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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    7

    Default Collision With Opened Door of a Stopped Car

    My question involves insurance law for the state of: California

    So I was driving on a narrow road going probably 15-20mph when a car parked on the side of the road opened their door. It was about 2-3 seconds before I hit it and instead of me breaking, I instinctively swerved but could not avoid their door because there happened to be a car coming the other way. The road was big enough for 2 cars to drive past each other but not big enough for 2 cars and a wide open door. In my statement I had said that their door was open all the way and I had hit the tip of their door when I swerved. I also got a witness that saw what happen to back up my story, but their insurance company says that parked car door was ajar and there was no internal door damage which was not consistent with mine or the witnesses story so they are denying liability. After my insurance company looked at the damages,they agreed with my story so it comes to a stalemate.

    The other insurance company pretty much came to their conclusion from these pictures, which apparently, tells a different story depending on who you ask.

    I just want to see what the people on here thought before I go to small claims court to settle this.

    Here are the pictures:
    http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l2...t/IMG_0327.jpg
    http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l2...t/IMG_0326.jpg
    http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l2...t/IMG_0325.jpg
    http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l2...t/IMG_0323.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    California
    Posts
    540

    Default Re: Who is at Fault

    I remember watching Judge Wopner many years ago on TV.

    A similar case came up. Judge Wopner said that the person opening the door is always 100% liable. I don't know a particular law or case that says that, but Judge Wopner always struck me as being very in tune with the law (as opposed to the current ilk of "reality" court TV).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,594

    Default Re: Who is at Fault

    Insurance companies are free to come to their own conclusions.

    Leave this to your insurance company. You are out your deductible no matter who the other company says is at fault.

    What would you hope to get from small claims court? Your deductible? If you go to court, the other side may be able to deny any payment at all and you may lose any potential settlement. I'd leave it to your insurer.

    But if you need it, there is this:

    22517. No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side
    available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and
    can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic,
    nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle
    available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than
    necessary to load or unload passengers.

    Though, I suspect the other party will argue that the door was open for a long time and had you been paying attention you could have avoided the collision.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Who is at Fault

    I have liability insurance so my insurance company doesnt fight on my behalf. To them, they already did what they were being paid to do. So if I dont go to court, I get nothing anyway and I'm out of the repair bill money.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,594

    Default Re: Who is at Fault

    Quote Quoting gebrinius
    View Post
    I have liability insurance so my insurance company doesnt pay anything...
    Ouch. That explains the reticence of the other insurance company. They figure they don't have to pay off and you'll have to pry the money out of them (or their client).

    Is your witness a passenger or a passerby? if a passenger, then it is less likely to be persuasive than if it is the story of an independent observer.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Who is at Fault

    My witness was someone walking on the other side of the street. Yea I had a passenger that saw the whole thing too but since I knew him, they would assume he would have a biased statement because they would think he would want to help me.

    I just dont see how they can throw my witness statement out because they believe the door was only opened a little bit.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,594

    Default Re: Who is at Fault

    Quote Quoting gebrinius
    View Post
    My witness was someone walking on the other side of the street. Yea I had a passenger that saw the whole thing too but since I knew him, they would assume he would have a biased statement because they would think he would want to help me.

    I just dont see how they can throw my witness statement out because they believe the door was only opened a little bit.
    The court wouldn't throw it out, but the court is free to weigh the credibility of any witness. But, given the damage to the door and the angle of the damage to your door, I don't see how it was simply ajar. I'd say it was open nearly full.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Who is at Fault

    Yea, I shouldn't even need the witness testimony. I feel the pictures show enough evidence to prove my story. I would need some kind of expert witness or something to look at the pictures.
    I have even brought this to their manager and their manager's manager and they still stand by their 0% liability. I feel the only way to settle this is in court.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,594

    Default Re: Who is at Fault

    Quote Quoting gebrinius
    View Post
    Yea, I shouldn't even need the witness testimony. I feel the pictures show enough evidence to prove my story. I would need some kind of expert witness or something to look at the pictures.
    I have even brought this to their manager and their manager's manager and they still stand by their 0% liability. I feel the only way to settle this is in court.
    An expert would likely cost you more than the damages to your car. I intend to do some of that when I get to retirement, but that's a ways off ...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Who is at Fault

    The damage to my car came up to $3000.00. I'm not so sure how much a expert witness costs, but thats a lot. They must think that I'm going to drop this or something, but $3000 is a lot of money to forget about.

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