GERMANTON, NC -- You can't see a hint of the accident damage now on the front end of Robert Lattimore's car, but he's still sore about having to pay for a crash he didn't cause. "I thought when you're sitting still in the middle-of-the-road on your side and someone runs into you, it's automatically their fault."
An accident diagram on the police report shows Robert's car is at the stop sign. "He said, 'I didn't see you. Where were you? I said I stopped right here.'" The officer even wrote "Driver of Vehicle 1 stated he didn't see vehicle 2 while turning."
But the other driver's insurance denied Robert's claim saying, "We cannot conclude that our insured is one hundred percent at fault." Robert says, "That's ridiculous."
North Carolina has a contributory negligence law. So if the insurance company thinks you were at fault - even by one percen - then they don't have to pay you a penny towards fixing your car.
Hold on - in the police report - the other driver originally admitted he didn't see Robert's car. But now the insurance company says the stories are "conflicting."
Tim Ward, an insurance agent with Senn Dunn, says, "Many times when people find out how expensive its going to be to in insurance points and deductibles they tend to color their color their story after the fact."
The claim letter also says, "There is no independent evidence to support either version." But Robert has a police report! It turns out a police report is not independent evidence because the officer didn't witness the accident. He's relying on what people tell him at the scene.
So here's how you can protect yourself:
- Always take pictures of the accident
- Get video of the driver's confession
- Get the names and contact information of third party, independent witnesses. Tim he's sent a client out to stand at the site of an accident before to get witnesses - it's that important.
- Get the police to literally write "at fault" on the report.