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Backed into light pole already knocked down

Discussion in 'Auto Accidents, Injuries' started by matthew6969, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. matthew6969

    matthew6969 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    I was backing into a parking spot around 11:00 pm and hit a light pole that somebody had already knocked down. It was dark and not a well lit spot in the parking lot. I made sure I took plenty of pictures and video. The light pole is dark colored and there is nothing around the pole to draw attention to it as it lays across 3 parking spots. Am I liable for the accident since there was no effort made by the hotel to ensure that nobody would hit it? There are scuffs and a dent in the rear bumper of the car. I went in and told the attendant and he had no clue what to do and said to come back in the morning when management would be in. They do have cameras according to him.
     

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  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    The good news, the incident allegedly occurred on private property.

    If you aren't familiar with what every licensed driver must do when colliding with any object, I refer you to your state's licensing agency and suggest you download and read the drivers education handbook.

    This time I'll cut to the chase: You need to report the incident to your motor vehicle insurer, I suggest you take more pictures in the morning (of both the scene, the murdered pole, and the vehicle you were allegedly driving.

    You would be wise to write a narrative describing what actually went down, and be truthful.

    The cameras will certainly tell the truth, and there might also have been a couple witnesses who are anxious to tell someone what they observed.

    Your automobile insurance policy has certain requirements of you, other than making payment, one is to report EVERY property damage and personal injury occurrence.


    You are not required to report any accidents to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Accident reports are filed by police officers investigating the accident under the following circumstances:

    1. The accident caused injury or death.

    2. The accident resulted in total property damage exceeding $1,000.

    3. Police officers investigating the accident have the right to ask for proof of valid insurance coverage. If you did not have liability insurance when the accident occurred or did not pay the Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee, your driving privileges or vehicle registration may be suspended. You will be required to file proof of future financial responsibility (SR-22) in order to have your driving privileges reinstated.

    My guess is that repairing the carnage against those poles will approach, if not exceed $1,000 US Dollars.
     
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Yes, you are responsible.
    Your insurance should pay this in the comprehensive coverage, minus your deductible, and it should not effect your rates.
     
  4. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Looks pretty well lit in your second photo.

    How about that it lays across 3 parking spots. Can't imagine how you didn't see it unless you just weren't paying attention.

    You're not liable for the pole but you are at fault for the damage to your own car.

    Do you know when the pole was knocked over? Do you know if the hotel management had notice? Do you know when? Until you can answer those questions there's no way to determine if the hotel owner shares in any negligence.

    Did he know that the pole was down?

    An at-fault accident always results in a rate surcharge unless it's one of those accident forgiveness policies.
     
    army judge likes this.
  5. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Liable for what? Is the owner of the property seeking to make you pay for the damage to the pole that someone else had knocked over?

    Did you do that? If so, what happened?
     
  6. matthew6969

    matthew6969 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    The pole is well lit bc I have an amazing flash on my camera. I was going more towards the scenario of the hotels negligence because they did know it was down and did nothing to prevent anybody from hitting it. Looking in the mirror even after I hit it I couldn't see the pole. And it's a rental car also. Not sure if that matters
     
  7. matthew6969

    matthew6969 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I am talking to the owner right now. Will post update shortly
     
  8. matthew6969

    matthew6969 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Well the owner said what I expected him to say which was nothing other than, "you hit it because you were backing up." I asked him how long it had been down and he didn't answer me at first and then said not long, just 2 days. I asked him why there was nothing up around it and I got a blank stare
     
  9. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Yes, that matters because you are absolutely liable to the rental car company for damage to the rented vehicle (even if you are subsequently reimbursed by insurance or a third-party who was at fault).

    If you haven't already put your insurance carrier on notice, you need to do so ASAP.
     
  10. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    This wouldn't be classified as an accident and wouldn't come out of collision coverage. Not by any reputable company anyway.
     
  11. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    It matters in regard to insurance. You'll need to contact your insurance and find out what coverage you might have in the rental, otherwise your coverage is that provided at the time of rental.
     
  12. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure what you think this would "be classified as" if not an "accident." Whether the OP's collision coverage applies depends on the specifics of his/her policy. However, if this weren't a rental car, collision coverage certainly would be the applicable coverage (I assume any issue of damage to the already downed light pole is not an issue), and a determination by the OP's insurer that the OP was "at fault" certainly would result in a rate increase.
     
  13. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Sorry, MM, that's not correct. Read your own auto policy and you'll find the following:

    "Collision" means the upset of "your covered
    auto" or a "non-owned auto" or their impact
    with another vehicle or object.
    Loss caused by the following is considered
    other than "collision":
    1. Missiles or falling objects;
    2. Fire;
    3. Theft or larceny;
    4. Explosion or earthquake;
    5. Windstorm;
    6. Hail, water or flood;
    7. Malicious mischief or vandalism;
    8. Riot or civil commotion;
    9. Contact with bird or animal; or
    10. Breakage of glass.

    "Accident" encompasses collision AND other than collision. What happened to OP is collision for which he is at fault. That would be the decision of any insurance company, reputable or not based on the initial description of the event.

    However, learning that the pole was there for 2 days without any warning signs would indicate some negligence on the part of the hotel.
     
  14. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Leaving the pole there for two days without warning signs would impute some negligence on the part of the hotel owners.

    I suggest you find out who the owners are from the Virginia corporation records and put them on written notice instead of trying to deal with the know-nothings at the front desk.
     
  15. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Well I may be wrong about it, and it would be up to the claims reps, but it seems to me that with the pole laying across the ground where it doesn't belong it would fall under comprehensive, quite different than crashing into a pole and losing control.
    I see it along the same lines as hitting an animal in the road.
    Regardless of the insurance coverage, there is no way the business has liability. This did only occur because the driver was backing in.
     
  16. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    It's exactly the same. As "adjusterjack" indicated, "collision" is typically defined as the upset or rollover of a covered auto or its impact with another vehicle or object, and comprehensive covers damage to the covered auto other than as a result of a collision. "[H]itting an animal in the road" is the same thing as colliding with an animal is is covered under the collision portion of the policy.

    Leaving the pole lying on the ground in the dark with nothing to alert drivers to the hazard is clear negligence. However, because this apparently occurred in Virginia, you may be right about this. If my understanding is correct, Virginia still follows the old-fashioned contributory negligence standard under which the plaintiff recovers nothing if he/she was also negligent, regardless of the percentages of fault attributed to the various parties.
     
  17. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    That is my understanding of VA law, too.

    It has been decades when I last worked a case in that state for a relative, but that was the settled law then. I suspect it stands today.
     
  18. matthew6969

    matthew6969 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Alright so I filed a police report and he was shocked that the light pole was still laying down with no cones or anything around it and the fact that there was still power surging through it. I informed the rental company and we did get the rental coverage from them and they said it's covered. The hotel then put cones and caution tape up around the pole very shortly after the officer left. He said that it would be a civil claim if I wanted to push the issue. The only problem with that is, I live about 300 miles away. I just don't want this to count against me on my insurance if it was in fact the hotel being negligent.
    Thank you all for the comments
     
  19. matthew6969

    matthew6969 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Is there a way for me to find out if VA still follows the contributory negligence law?
     
  20. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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