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Complaint 20 of 20 in "Fault and No-Fault Issues"
Insurance Carrier: Zurich Insurance
I was riding my motorcycle to work when a large mack truck pulled out in front
of me from a side street where there was a bus at a bus stop. By the time i saw
him he was blocking the road and with about 30 feet to stop i hit my brakes and
laid down the bike and skid into the side of the truck. The officer at the scene
deemed him to be at fault and so did the police report. His insurance company
tells me that since i am at least 1 percent negligent that I cannot receive any
compensation from them. Am I wrong or does this sound like they are just
scamming out of it I mean I always could have just tapped the brakes and ran
into the side of the truck but that seems like a worse idea to me.
Insurance Expert Answer:
If there was any personal injury at all, and medical bills or loss or work, etc. I would urge you to speak with an auto accident / personal injury lawyer.
In some states (and from what I recall Virginia is one of them) if a jury would find that you were negligent -- or "at fault" to any extent -- even 1% -- it is true that you would be unable to recover as historically at common law contributory negligence was a total defense to a negligence claim. In about 90%+ of the states in a situation where there is some fault on both sides the party who is less negligent can still recover, but the damages are reduced proportionally. Virginia is a holdout. BUT all is not lost.
What I've given you above is all lawyer talk. As a practical matter juries are made of people and they have a decent sense of justice and cut through the crap. They regularly cut through the legalese and see things as they are and thus find people who are injured in circumstances such as you describe not to be at fault in 99% of the cases. And yes, Zurich knows that too but by stating the law as it is and claiming they will defend and try to prove you were 1% at fault they hope to discourage you from proceeding under the circumstances.
You have a very good case, and if they told a lawyer what you told us, the lawyer would either be handling his or her first case, an ignorant bloke, or most likely would laugh in their face.