Suppose a car registered in North Carolina is parked for several hours in a marked, dirt parking space in a Tennessee park. During this time, the vehicle sinks into the soft dirt enough for the tip of a rock to hang the front bumper during reversing the vehicle and cause $75 damage.

The driver calls the insurance provider and the conversation results in an insurance representative recording the event. The company deems this an at-fault assessment since the driver "collided with a stationary object". This results in two additional insurance points, costing the driver $40/mo rate increase. The insurance provider does not pay out since the damage is well below deductible.

Some questions:

  • Was the driver at fault?
  • Regardless, can the insurance provider add points without payout?

References: North Carolina Drivers Handbook states on page 29: "Insurance Points - Insurance companies use a different point system to determine insurance rates. If you have any questions concerning insurance points, contact your insurance agent."

  • 1
    @nomenagentis Clarification added. Quotes were around "driver collided with a stationary object" as that is the basis insurance company uses for maintaining driver is at fault. (quotes left off per your edit though)
    – Still.Tony
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 0:23
  • 5
    Although I don't know the answer to this question, if it were me, I'd just leave the insurance company out of this. If it's just $75 of damage, that'll be well below the deductible, and (to me) wouldn't be worth the hassle. Especially with the possibility of a $40/mo increase, it wouldn't pay out in the long run anyways.
    – Cullub
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 1:30
  • 3
    @cullub The question is regarding the situation after reporting to insurance, specifically how insurance points are assessed. Legality and consequences of not reporting may vary but one is almost always contractually obligated to report to their insurance. That would be a good topic for a different question. law.stackexchange.com/questions/985/…
    – Still.Tony
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 1:40
  • 3
    Several years ago, my wife was driving at 5 am on an unlit county road when she ran over a tire or wheel that had apparently fallen off of a semi truck. In the dark, it was impossible to see the black tire against the black roadway. The insurance company declared this to be a "multi-vehicle, at-fault" collision - multi-vehicle because the object was a vehicle part, and at-fault because it was stationary. Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 19:11
  • 6
    @DanHenderson I hope your insurance company had the decency to pay for repairs to that tire and put it back in the road exactly where she so rudely ran over and damaged it (whitewall down of course.)
    – Still.Tony
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 22:55

1 Answer 1


Nolo's page on North Carolina Car Accident Laws say:

Also keep in mind that since there is no empirical means of allocating fault, any assignment of liability will ultimately come down to your ability to negotiate with a claims adjuster or to persuade a judge or jury.

Another site mentions that:

North Carolina’s strict rules on determining fault in car accidents are known as “pure contributory negligence” laws. This means that the victim has to be 100 percent free of fault for the accident in order to receive compensation.

In short, NC considers that a person who was even partly responsible for an accident, or who could have avoided it, is "at fault". How this applies to single-car accidents when the problem occurs while the car was stopped is not specifically discussed in any source I could find. A final decision could only come from a court. A person for hom this is an actual issue would do well to consult a lawyer knowledgeable about NC insurance laws.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .