Being my passenger when I'm driving can be a bad experience. I suffer
terribly from road rage, an outcome of being in a constant state of
nervous tension, caused by the awful drivers of South-East Queensland.
Each day they try to kill me, or failing that to damage my car as
severely as they can.
Three have succeeded. One was a man who turned right in front of me so
that I couldn't avoid hitting him, writing off my beloved Lady Jane.
He was lucky I'm a cautious, defensive driver, and had slowed down
expecting insanity, because his passenger door was severely dented,
and hurt his side. Had I been doing 60 kph, the limit, he'd likely be
dead or badly injured.
Number two was a guy on his way back from holiday, who was chatting
with his wife, the way people do, turning to talk to her instead of
watching the road. He didn't see that I had stopped and rearended me,
writing off Queen Kate. I spent a lot of money getting her back on the
road, which was not quite covered by the insurance. It just didn't
seem right to have her sent to the wrecker when the damage was only to
the boot and back bar.
Number three was a woman who reversed into me outside my house. I had
reversed into the empty road, as I do every morning, and was just
coming to a stop, ready to take off down Canopus Street when bang,
from out of nowhere, a car ran into my passenger door. Luckily, she
didn't hit me very hard, so Naughtyman, who was sat next to the door,
was not hurt. She jumped out full of apologies. She had not been
looking; she was in a hurry because she was dropping off some kids or
something, and had driven into the wrong driveway. I shrugged and said
shit happens, just call your insurance and no harm is done.
So imagine my shock when her insurance finally contacted me and the
guy says, I'm calling about an accident where you were at fault.
WTF, I said, no I wasn't. Your insured reversed straight into me
without looking. She accepted liability (because what else could she
do? It was her fault after all). She was close to tears because she
was so afraid she had hurt someone. I actually felt sorry for her
because she had so clearly done the wrong thing and it had had a bad
But you were reversing, he said.
So what? I said. I was reversing down the road, side on to her. I
didn't reverse into her. She backed into the SIDE of my car.
Yes, but you were reversing. When people are reversing, it's 50/50.
No it's not, I said. I reversed into an empty road, carefully. She
reversed without looking, straight into my car. It doesn't matter what
direction I was going in, she still caused the accident through no
fault of mine. I was barely even moving and what motion I had was away
from her, not towards her. I mean, duh, my car door was done in, and
she has a small scratch on one side of her back bumper.
B thinks there is a law that the fault is shared when everyone's
reversing, but of course there isn't. That would be stupid. (For
instance, say you drive into someone who is rolling back on a hill
start. You are always liable then even though they rolled back a bit.
Or say you were driving at 80 kph down the wrong side of the road and
hit someone who was reversing to parallel park. You'd clearly be
liable then too.) There's a convention that applies when you reverse
into someone who reverses into you in a car park, and it's difficult
for the insurance companies to sort out. What there is is a law that
you must give way to all traffic when you enter a road. I did that.
The woman didn't.
So I am adding AAMI insurance to my list of bad businesses to deal
with. What I imagine happened is the woman said that she hit someone
backing out of his drive, and she needed to fix up what she had done.
They heard "backing out" and told her they would do it knock for
knock. But I didn't back into her. There's no joint fault. I backed
into an open road. She just drove straight into me. There's no law
that says you get off the hook because I happened to be going
backwards. It's deeply frustrating that they know that I did nothing
to cause the accident and could not avoid it regardless what I did,
yet they expect my insurance (and actually, just me, because my
insurance won't cover it) to pay. I don't intend to go through my
insurance. If she doesn't make it right, I will sue her, and win. I'm
pretty sure the small claims court will not reward her for breaking
the law, whatever AAMI thinks, and I'm sure there's no law that says
that there's no liability in traffic incidents if the person you smash
into happens to be going backwards.
The thing is, it's just wrong and we are expected to put up with so
much that is just wrong in this life. I mean, I will be really pissed
off if I end up having to pay for the damage to my car. This woman
didn't care about other people enough even to bother to look into her
mirror before driving out into the road. She *should* pay for that. I
shouldn't be on the hook for her stupidity. And her insurance company
shouldn't abet her. Fair enough, they can tell her they won't cover
it, but ringing me and suggesting I am at fault because I happened to
be in the road when she careered out into it is just wrong.