Tuesday, April 23, 2013


The police cited the other driver, but his insurer says I'm partly at fault? How can that be?

We get a lot of consumer calls like this.

Police have the authority to issue citations based on their interpretation of the accident scene and the rules of the road. Drivers who disagree can make their case in traffic court.

But here's the key thing when it comes to insurance: A citation doesn't necessarily establish the issue of negligence, which can include factors including your own driving behavior, weather, speed and visibility. And the reality is that insurers sometimes attribute some portion of fault to both drivers rather than rely solely on who got a ticket at the scene. If an insurer does that, however, they should explain the basis for their decision.

Want to know more? Here in Washington state, the law that allows for this apportionment of fault is RCW 4.22, titled "Contributory fault."

Here's more about your rights when you file an auto insurance claim, and guidelines on what to do if you're in an accident and what to do if you're hit by an uninsured driver.

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