My wife was involved in an auto accident last September which was not her fault — she opened the door of her parked car after confirming that no one was coming, and another driver came whipping around a corner and hit her door. Her insurance company found her liable for the accident and issued an SDIP surcharge, because the regulations state that the person opening the door is assumed to be at fault whenever an accident like this occurs (just like the person in back is assumed to be at fault whenever one car rear-ends another).
Everyone with whom my wife spoke about the surcharge told her not to bother appealing. Several people claimed to have waged unsuccessful appeals when they were not at fault. The prevailing wisdom seemed to be that the system is rigged against drivers. Nevertheless, I insisted that she appeal and even ghost-wrote her affidavit (we chose to appeal in writing rather than attending the hearing).
Today we received a notice that my wife “did demonstrate a showing necessary to rebut the governing presumption of the applicable standard of fault,” and the surcharge was vacated. Woohoo!
Here’s the affidavit I wrote for her which was successful at getting the surcharge overturned:
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Division of Insurance / Board of Appeal
1000 Washington Street, 8th Floor
Boston, MA 02118
Attn: Statement Section
To whom it may concern:
Thank you for the opportunity to present my case for your consideration.
The open door of my parked Honda Odyssey minivan was hit by another driver.
I checked that the roadway was clear immediately before opening my door. No cars were in sight.
I then opened my door all the way and placed one foot on the pavement before suddenly realizing that there was another vehicle about to hit my door. I had time to pull my leg all the way back in and partially shut my door before that occurred, such that I was not injured and the only damage to my minivan was slight damage to my door’s trim.
When you consider the time that it took me to open my door all the way at a normal speed (i.e., I didn’t throw it open quickly or anything), put one foot on the pavement, realize that a vehicle had “come out of nowhere” and was about to hit mine, pull my leg fully back into my minivan, and close my door more than halfway, it should be obvious that the other vehicle (a) could not have been close to mine when this sequence of events started and (b) was probably traveling at an excessive speed and possibly not paying attention.
Here is a satellite photo of where the accident occurred:
I have marked where my car was legally and properly parked, only a couple of inches from the curb, with a red rectangle. I would like to call your attention to two features of this scenario:
- Note how wide the single traffic lane is on that part of Faneuil Street, which is one-way. In a traffic lane that wide, any car driving close enough to the parking lane to clip a door was being driven negligently.
- As I noted above, I did not see the other vehicle when I checked the roadway before opening my door, nor do I have any direct knowledge of where it came from. However, it seems likely to me that the vehicle either turned right from Bigelow Street onto Faneuil Street as shown by the blue arrow in the photo, or left from N435 onto Faneuil Street as shown by the green arrow. In either case, it appears that the other driver made the turn too quickly and/or without paying sufficient attention and did not notice my already open door until it was too late for him to avoid colliding with it.
Given all these details, I think it is clear that I was not responsible for this accident.
Thank you again for taking the time to consider my appeal.