2013 Settlement of Rear End Collision in Bar Harbor
In most cases involving rear end collisions, there is no dispute over who was at fault for the accident. However, in this case, the defendant claimed that, because of the snowy conditions that day, the accident was "unavoidable." This type of argument is becoming increasingly common as fewer and fewer people seem to be willing to accept responsibility for their actions. While it is certainly true that some accidents are unavoidable, this was not one of those cases.
Our client had attempted to negotiate with the defendant driver's insurance company for over a year without the assistance of an attorney. After her bills had been sent to collection agencies and her credit was ruined, she came to us for assistance in resolving the case. We quickly discovered that the reason that the insurance company was dragging its heels was because it knew that the defendant driver was claiming that the accident could not have been avoided due to the weather conditions that day. It did not reveal this to our client when she was attempting to negotiate a resolution the case on her own. It also became apparent that the insurance company's strategy all along was to simply delay the case as long as possible for several reasons: First, this insurance company--and, for that matter, all insurance companies--desired to delay paying the claim for the obvious reason that they were collecting interest on that money until it is paid out.
Second, the insurance company was aware through discussions with our client that she was coming under greater and greater financial pressure the longer the case dragged on. Unfortunately our client had provided that information to the insurance company adjuster who was handling her case. She believed that she could persuade the insurance company to be "compassionate" and pay her what she deserved if she explained how bad things were for her financially. Little did she know that the insurance company adjuster simply viewed that information as "leverage" to use against her get her to accept a lower settlement offer.
Third, and perhaps most important, the insurance company knew that the more time that passed, the less likely it would be that witnesses to the accident could be located. A critical issue in the case was the speed of the defendant driver as he approached the intersection and tried to stop his vehicle. Because the accident occurred in Bar Harbor in the middle of the winter, it was likely that at least some people living and working in the area would have witnessed the accident. Unfortunately no one stopped at the accident scene to say that they had witnessed it, so the Traffic Accident Report did not list the names of any witnesses.
After our client hired our firm to handle her case, we immediately sent out our private investigator to speak with people who worked in the few shops that were open in the area. Fortunately he was able to locate a clerk in a nearby store who informed him that she did not see the accident, but remembered hearing about it from a friend who came into the store after it occurred. We contacted her friend and she reported that she recalled overhearing the defendant driver apologizing for "not paying attention." This statement was obviously very helpful.
We also were able to obtain the name of the person who called 911 on behalf of our client. This person turned out to have been driving behind the defendant driver and recalled that the defendant driver's truck was traveling considerably faster than hers. She stated that she recalled the defendant driver "gunning" his truck within 30 seconds or so of the accident, causing the truck to fishtail.
After we presented the statements of these witnesses to the insurance company, the case was settled for several times what the insurance company had offered our client when she was handling the case on her own.