Disputed Motor Claims
what does it mean?
A disputed liability claim is not ‘knock for knock.’ A knock for knock claim is one in which both drivers accept that there was nothing they could do to avoid the accident and that neither was to blame. Both will have to make a fault claim on their own policies. But in a disputed liability claim both insurance companies pay part of the cost of the others claim. An accident will be settled on a disputed (or split) liability if:
a) The accident circumstances presented by the drivers involved are so contradictory that it cannot be established beyond all reasonable doubt about what exactly happened.
b) Both drivers carried out actions that contributed to the accident.
The most common accidents that are settled on this basis are:
1) collisions on roundabouts.
2) collisions involving more than two vehicles (concertina)
3) collisions in car parks
4) collisions where one car attempts to change lanes.
5) collisions that happen at cross-roads
7) accidents on a narrow road.
8) a car over shoots a ‘give way’ road marking at a junction. They reverse and hit a stationary vehicle behind them.
In cases like this the drivers involved will often expect their insurance company to “fight their corner.” But if the drivers who were there can’t agree on what happened there is no way the insurance companies will be able to make a decision. No insurer will go to the expense of fighting a disputed liability claim unless it knows it can win. And if I knows it can win the claim wouldn’ t be disputed anyway. Many of these disputed claims in any case are backed by Case Law where a legal precedence has been set.
People often think that because the third party admitted that they were at fault at the scene of the accident that the claim will be treated as a fault claim by the third party insurance company. But an insurance company will never be bound by their policyholders admission of guilt at the scene of an accident, even if that admission is put in writing as there is always the possibility that any admission could have been extracted under duress. Apart from that in the ‘heat of the moment’ people will often say things they didn’t mean. A woman’s tears and apologises cannot be construed as an admission of guilt. Emotional distress is not a confession. It is not unusual for someone to ‘admit fault’ at the scene of the accident only for them to deny all liability for it when they report it to their insurer.
Nor is the area of damage proof of how the accident happened. It merely confirms that an accident happened. Classic examples of this are accidents that happen on a roundabout and in car parks and on a duel carriageway for instance. Who hit whom first? It's impossible to tell by looking at the bodywork damage. (The only exception to this are accidents in which one car is damaged by a door from another car. If the damage is to the front of your car it prove that you drove into an open door and you will be held at fault. If however, the damage is to the side of your car then it shows that the door was opened as you drove past and then it will be the other car owner who will be held at fault).
Nor will an insurer by swayed if you tell them, “well when the police arrived soon after it happened and they said that the other driver was at fault.” If they didn’t actually see the accident happened their opinion carries no more weight than anyone else’s (even if they are police officers).
But after investigation carried out by an insurance company or their agents a claim that was initially marked down as a disputed claim can be amended to a fault or non fault claim. If:
1) There is an independent witness.
2) CCTV footage.
3) Once all the evidence has been reviewed it might become obvious that one of the drivers version of events simply cannot be true.
4) The ‘at fault’ party does in the end admit that their actions caused the accident. As long as a claim is being disputed both drivers policies will be affected, they will lose 2 years NCB and the full excess on their policy will apply. Even if the claim is settled as “partial fault” both drivers will loose 2 years NCB though they will have a portion of their excess reimbursed.