On March 17, 2005, at approximately 5:30 p.m., in broad daylight, on a clear day, a woman named Jacqueline M. Frances of Woodbridge, Virginia, backed her vehicle into my car. Ms. Frances got out of her vehicle and said she was very sorry for backing into me - that she did not even see me and that she knew it was her fault for not looking to see what was behind her - that she was paying attention to the children who were standing on the stoop of my home (her daughter and my boyfriend's two children) - who were trying to motion for her to stop. She said not to worry - that she had insurance and would pay for the damage to my vehicle.
I explained to her that I was upset because insurance companies cancel people for being hit by other people and I had that happen to me in the past by American Express Insurance, who in fact did cancel my insurance policy collision portion because of people hitting me and breaking into my vehicle. My boyfriend who was also at the stoop of the house and had witnessed it came out and also tried to calm me down - - "Calm down Cheryl - she has insurance to fix your car. You heard her - its going to be ok." I took down the little information I could think of getting, her address and policy number for the insurance. I was so upset that I couldn't even see the information on her drivers license. She said that she would call her insurance company to file the report so that I could get my car fixed.
Finally, on Saturday, March 19th, I called Progressive Insurance Company and furnished a recorded statement concerning the incident. After the recording was finished the agent told me that my story differed from the story that was furnished by their insured party. He said that since she was their customer they had to believe her statement rather than mine. He explained that by law there are two types of negligence - contributory and comparative. In the state of Virginia the legal system uses contributory rather than comparative, which means that if you are even 1% responsible for the collission then you are responsible for fixing your own vehicle. He said that Ms. Frances told their insurance agents that both of our vehicles were moving at the same time (that I was backing up out of my parking space at the same time as she was backing up in the parking lot). So as far as they were concerned my statement that I was stopped and not moving at the time that Ms. Frances backed up into my vehicle was unsupported and would make me liable for fixing my own vehicle. The Progressive Agent went on further to say that none of the witnesses at the scene of the accident could provide testimony since they were too closely involved with the parties. It had to be witnessed by a person who we did not know.
He went on to explain that they have an obligation to believe their insured customer. I explained that my car was NOT moving at the time she hit it. That as I was backing out of the space I was looking out of my rear view mirror on the passenger side of my vehicle and saw that her vehicle was backing up towards me, so I stopped my car and was about to place it in drive so that I could pull forward. I did not get to put it into gear to move forward. She just kept backing until she hit into me. She admitted to me that she did not see me - that she was not looking to the back of her vehicle as she was backing up - and was in fact looking at her daughter and the girls on the porch who were motioning to her. I also told the agent that the physical evidence, specifically the damage to my vehicle, would validate that my car was NOT moving - - that the hit was direct and there was no drag marks to reflect that my car was moving backward or forward at the time of impact. He said that no matter what I said he was obliged to accept his policy holders statement and that if my insurance company wanted to they could file before an arbitration forum. As far as they were concerned Progressive was not going to pay for the damage.
He gave me the claim number assigned, his name, and phone number.
AGENTS NAME: Andrew Courtnage
CLAIM NUMBER: *********
PHONE NUMBER: 703-730-4546
POLICY NUMBER: ********-*
INSURED PARTY: Jacqueline M., **** Bayside Avenue, #10, Woodbridge, VA 22191
I contacted my insurance company and reported the above to them right after I got off the telephone with the Progressive Agent. I was very upset and really feel that the insurance industry has to do something to improve the way that they handle claims. Even when you have witnesses to an incident they will not accept the witnesses statements. I can not believe that they treat people the way that they do and how they disregard witnesses and the facts. HOW COULD THIS WOMAN HAVE SEEN MY CAR MOVING IF SHE WAS NOT LOOKING BEHIND HER? IF SHE SAW MY CAR IN MOTION WHY DID SHE NOT STOP HER VEHICLE FROM HITTING INTO MINE? I believe that she is not being honest about the accident or just making assumptions that my car was in motion at the same time as hers. Yet we can not call upon the 4 witnesses to provide facts. I have attached photos of my car damage which will prove that the vehicle I was driving was not moving. If it were moving there would have been some DRAG DAMAGE from the point of impact.
Ultimately PROGRESSIVE would not pay the damage to my car. Their explanation "Our investigation concludes the accident was a result of both parties contributing to the accident through improper backing. We respectfully inform you that we will not be making any voluntary payments to you on this claim." They should be ashamed to be in the insurance business. How can a person (me) be sitting still and have someone back into you and you are at fault because you are in your vehicle. They should be barred from providing insurance if they don't want to pay for claims.
Manassas Park, Virginia
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