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Complaint 8 of 20 in "Fault and No-Fault Issues"

Insurance Carrier: AAA Of Michigan
State: Illinois

Consumer Complaint:

Their insured person made an illegal turn in my right-of-way, was ticketed. By the time police arrived frost had accumulated on my windshield, I was ticketed for frost which was later dismissed in court (windshield had been scrapped, while defroster kept working but engine had stalled while awaiting police for 15 mins.). AAA of Michigan Adjuster assessed fault at 50/50 within first 3 minutes of conversation. I have provided her with numerous pictures, diagrams PLUS the frost ticket dismissal and AAA has refused, for nearly 3 months, to settle this $2300 claim which leaves me without reliable transportation. My income is fixed (Soc. Sec.) and health issues are considerable. They won't even talk to me so I really need help.

Insurance Expert Answer:

I assume that AAA is the other driver's carrier and that you have no collision insurance, because if you did your insurance company would pay to fix your car, less the deductible. Absent personal injury, this is one that you'd have to take to small claims court, as if it is just a small property damage claim, the amount of money involved would be insufficient to make it worthwhile for any lawyer worth his or her while to sue. To the other driver's company, you're a stranger, and they owe you very little other than to listen. Denying the claim is not all that unreasonable. If AAA believes that there is 50-50 fault -- and had your windshield been frosted while you were driving it easily might have been -- they won't pay or settle, at least not until you sue in small claims court. Then they may decide to settle to avoid having to defend their driver and incurring legal fees and risk having to pay the entire cost of repairs. Liability is a question of fact. If the judge believes you that your car windshield was clear at the time of the accident, you were paying attention, and you'd been driving for enough time for the defroster to melt the ice and snow, and you turned the car off after the accident which is why it froze up, you'll win. You won the criminal case (the ticket) but there your guilt had to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, which is hard to do. Even if the judge concluded that it's 75% likely the window was frozen over he'd have had to acquit you -- beyond a reasonable doubt requires that he'd be 95-99% sure it was frozen over. In the case against the driver if he thinks it's 51% likely, you'd lose. Also, make sure you have proof of the cost of repairs. Cases often fail for lack of proof, and a paid bill for the repairs is the best proof.