Misreading of California Law and Wrong Right of Way
This review is to the CEO of GEICO.
Your company claims policy is just plain wrong. It is ludicrous.
I am a 40 year long driver. Over that time I have been involved in a total of 4 accidents. To this time I have been adjudged by a jury or a claims adjuster never to have been at fault.
This is a current claim under policy number 4051-75-56-60.
Back in October, 2008, I was involved in a fender bender collision with a student driver at the San Bernardino Valley College campus. The scrape went virtually the full length of the your lady's car, only the front left bumper and quarter panel were damage on my car.
On a three pronged parking lot on the very east side of campus, I pulled out of my parking place which was perpendicular to the North-South orientation of the long direction of the parking lot. I was only the fourth space in from the corner on the right side exit. I backed out of the parking space, proceeded to the corner and to the intersection of the exit from the three pronged parking lot in approximately 15 seconds. This would be a backing up of about 22 feet, forward about 40 feet until the turn of the parking aisle, then forward about another 20 feet to the intersection. This was all accomplished at a speed of approximately 5 miles per hour, 7 feet per second.
In those last 20 feet before entering the intersection, I was continuously traveling at about 5 miles per hours, 7 feet per second with my eyes focused intensely on the center aisle of the parking lot. I was satisfied that not only was there no car in imminent threat of hitting me as I was about to enter the intersection and turn right out of the parking lot exit of about 3 car lengths to a pedestrian cross walk stop.
I slowed even further for the one last second look straight across head on at the left side exit from the parking lot to make sure I would not encumber or hit head on any one exiting from the opposite side of the parking lot. Then, I nearly completed my turn still at 5 miles per hour, 7 feet per second, while looking forward to the crosswalk rather immediately in front of my car. My SUV car was virtually parallel to the North exit direction of the parking lot two-to-three seconds later when it was struck by the female driver in a small foreign sedan.
The first statement out of Tricia's mouth was, "I thought you were stopped." It is not known how Tricia perceived that my car was stopped. But if she saw the taillights it was incumbent upon her to stop her car leaving her totally at fault. If she thought that 5 miles per hour was stopped, that was a negligent act making her the guilty party again.
Now, if we take my two statements to campus police by me to be true: (1) I never was stopped. (2) There were no cars either in the middle exit lane which I starred at for about 3 seconds or the left side lane coming toward my car as I began the turn to exit the parking lot, then, again, we must conclude the young lady committed one or two violations which led directly to the accident. Also, thirdly (3), I never saw her car until the collision occurred.
From the position of the cars at the collision conclusion, my car was proceeding nearly parallel with the exit. This meant my car had gone a distance of approximately 22 feet, a 15 foot car length plus the width of the car, about 7 feet. This would very closely be explained by a 5 mile per hour or 7 feet per second rate over 3 seconds. In order to overtake my car and be slightly further through the parking lot exit when the crash concluded than my car, there is no way this could be accomplished by backing up out of one of the stalls on the left side of the parking and coming around the corner to the middle exit lane. The approximately 150 foot, 15 car parking on an angle away from the exit in the middle lane would have required a speed, at most generous to the young lady, in excess of 25 miles per hour plus backing out plus going around the curve at the opposite end of the parking lot from the exit. Proceeding at 70-80 miles per hour might have achieved this but this is impossible given the double curves at the end of the left side exit.
The other possibilities are that the young lady had done a back in parking in one of the center aisle parking positions which were slanted toward the opposite end of the parking lot from the exit and the building that occuppied the property at that end of the parking lot. But, even then the nearest of these would be across the entryway to the parking lot with its two side exits, or about 20-30 feet behind my car as it turned onto the exit. This would mean that the young lady was illegally backed into a parking and that her speed for overtaking my car must have been about 10 miles per hour. However, that is only if she were in the first parking. If she were instead half way down the parking lot, she would have had to travel about 100 feet to reach the final collision position from an illegal backed in parking position. This places her speed most favorably to her at over 17 miles per hour up to 22 miles per hour. At the far corner from the exit ramp from the parking lot her distance after illegally backing in at 170 feet or 30 miles per hour to 39 miles per hour. Back in parking is illegal. The post speed for parking lots on campus is 15 miles per hour.
The other possible scenario is that the young lady was properly parked on the East side parking lane on an angle out toward the exit. Then, seeing no one parked opposite her car on the center angle toward the opposite end to the exit parking location took off over the parking lot to the center exit aisle. This is another, negligent, dangerous if not illegal move on the part of the young lady. The times for this possible scenario are only a slightly higher rate of speed required to hit my car at the time of the collision.
Tricia claims that she was in the center aisle and therefore had the right of way over all others.
Two of your claims representatives have called me within the last two weeks on this matter as I have responded with a letter to the first. The first was a local claims adjuster. I argued with him that I was in the intersection when the other car struck me. He stated that it did not matter. The car going down the center aisle directly to the parking lot outlet had the right of way. This is ludicrous. Once one vehicle enters an intersection, as California Vehicle Code states, that party must have the right of way. Otherwise, no matter how rapidly one exited the intersection, someone could always good fast enough, theoretically, at least, to cause an accident with that car. Then, before I wrote the letter rebuffing your first claims adjusters conclusion, I remembered the young lady's first words, "I thought you were stopped.". Your second party from the corporate office called last week, he stuck by the guns of the first party stating that I was a fault because the young lady was in the center aisle exit lane.
As we can see from above, A POLICY OF CENTER AISLE EXITS ALWAYS HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY CAN ONLY LEAD TO ANARCHY. IT IS WRONG AND VIOLATES THE VEHICLE CODE OF EVERY STATE IN THE UNION APPLICABLE TO INTERSECTIONS AT UNCONTROLLED ROADWAYS. WHY SHOULD PARKING LOTS BE ANY DIFFERENT. THEIR INTERSECTIONS ARE, AFTER ALL, UNCONTROLLED ROADWAYS.
The collision stopped less than two car lengths from a controlled pedestrian crosswalk which commonly held college students. This excess speeding and reckless driving by Tricia might well have led to injury or death of a student.
Yet, both of your claim adjustors are adamant about the conclusion that the center lane exit aisle from a parking lot always has the right of way.
Right way, wrong way, this is no way to be.
Michael S. Ross