Example of a Failure to Yield Accident Case We Handled
Most failure to yield cases are fairly straightforward, provided that the party that caused the accident (the defendant) and was in the wrong is truthful about what happened. Unfortunately, in all too many cases, someone who fails to another's right-of-way will manufacture an excuse for why he or she failed to yield. One of the more common excuses we hear on a frequent basis is that our client was speeding and, due to the speed of our client's vehicle, the person erroneously determined there was sufficient room to merge, cross an intersection, turn left in front of our client's vehicle traveling from the other direction, etc. Many times these excuses do not surface until long after the fact. One mistake many of our clients make is to believe that the defendant will be honest and admit to his or her error. When they are dealing with the defendant's insurance carrier, often the insurance adjuster will either let them believe that is the case by simply not bringing the issue up or actively mislead our clients into believing that the other driver is accepting responsibility for the accident. Make no mistake that the purpose for misleading our clients in this way is very often to stall or delay a case being investigated by our clients and prevent them from taking necessary action to protect their rights.
Case in point: One of clients was traveling along a back road just outside of Kittery, Maine, approaching an area where a side road merged. A car approached from her left and came up to a stop sign fairly quickly, slowed to a roll, and then shot out across the intersection. From our client's perspective, the defendant was clearly in a hurry and not paying close attention to traffic on the road he was crossing. Our client forcefully applied her brakes, skidding for a distance before colliding with the front end of the defendant's vehicle. The collision was violent and caused serious damage to both vehicles. Our client sustained serious injuries and was transported to the hospital by ambulance.
For some reason, the investigating officer's report was lacked detail and did not mention anything about statements made to the investigating officer by the defendant about how the accident happened which our client overheard. After our client was released from the hospital, she proceeded to have two surgeries and a fairly long period of rehabilitation. She was contacted by the defendant's insurance company and the insurance adjuster led her to believe that liability would not be an issue (i.e., that the defendant was accepting fault for the accident). As a result, she did not contact an attorney, believing she could resolve the matter on her own. The insurance adjuster repeatedly reassured her that contacting an attorney was not necessary and that, if she did, it would only "slow things down."
When her bills began to mount and it became apparent that her problems would not resolve as quickly or as well as she and her doctors had initially hoped, the insurance adjuster's tone changed slightly, but he continued to reassure her that she would be "taken care of." Needless-to-say, that did not happen. As soon as she informed the insurance adjuster of what she thought would be fair compensation for her injuries, the adjuster immediately began to tell her that she was looking for far too much money (even though what she was seeking was very reasonable). It soon became apparent to our client that the defendant's insurance company was only willing to "low ball" her.
She then contacted our office. Unfortunately, due to the lengthy delay, when we contacted the investigating officer, he had only a very vague recollection of the accident and could not remember any of the incriminating statements that the defendant made and that our client overheard. The delay also prevented us from getting evidence of the accident scene that could have been a basis for determining our client's speed. We suspect that the insurance adjuster's "foot dragging" while our client was handling the case on her own was intentional and designed to, among other things, prevent a proper and timely investigation from occurring.
Fortunately, during the deposition of the defendant he made admissions which supported our theory that he was in a rush (late for work). The case settled shortly after we requested the deposition of his former employer who we expected would refute the defendant's claim that, despite the accident occurring 15 miles from where he worked and having only 10 minutes to get to work at the time of the accident, it was acceptable for him to be late.