I was in a minor fenderbender late last week, in which I was behind a car (we were both in sedans) who started forward when a light turned green, but then hit their breaks and I bumped them while trying to break myself. The entire thing happened at about 10 mph, and there are no dents on either vehicle. There are a handful of scratchs, and one or two 1/2-1 inch gashes on both bumpers from the corners of our licenses plates.
I had a passenger in my vehicle, as did the other vehicle. After hearing the sound, and being clenched on my breaks, I put the car into park, removed the key from the ignition and opened my door to take a look. Directly behind me in traffic was an off-duty police officer, who was just getting out of his jeep. He took charge of the situation and told me to stay in my car. He spoke with the other driver, who was now out of his vehicle, and leaned in to speak with his passenger--a young woman who was apparently pregnant. They speak for about 2 minutes, when the off-duty officer returns and says they're going to bring an ambulance in since she's in (verbatim) "extreme back pain." She then proceeds to get herself out of the car and walk around with no indication of bodily injury at all. No limping, no bracing herself, no holding her arms on her back or legs or even abdomen. In fact, she looks to be fairly calm, and even started laughing about things with her boyfriend. I call my insurance company; my agent is out "for a while." I give the basics and the woman on the phone tells me to "call back once I have the accident report." I tell her the extent of the damage I see on their vehicle (since I haven't been allowed out, I cannot see my vehicle yet), and that the pregnant woman is walking around. The agent mentions that it's "strange" that I wouldn't be allowed to walk around but the pregnant woman who supposedly has back pain is walking around unassisted without any difficulty.
About 5 minutes later, an ambulance and on-duty police officer arrive, and someone finally asks if my passenger and I are alright, and if we need an ambulance ride. The pregnant woman has declined any medical attention, even stating that she's fine, and has been standing since getting out of the car. The on-duty officer then takes my license and proof of insurance and instructs us to pull out into a pharmacy parking lot and remain in our vehicles.
I pull into a parking space two spots left of the other vehicle, turn off my engine, have my passenger roll down his window, and I ask "How are you guys doing?" to the other party. The driver says "Fine." They continue to talk between them, and my passenger and I repeatedly heard the young woman laughing about something.
The police officer is parked behind us, running paperwork and whatever else for about 20 minutes. He then comes up to their vehicle, talks for a moment, and then comes to my window. Apparently, he just filed the paperwork incorrectly, stating her as the driver, rather than the passenger. Another 10 minutes or so and he returns, and lets them drive off (I never had the chance to photograph their damage with my phone's camera, and couldn't clearly see anything from my driver seat). He comes back to my window and issues me a ticket for "failure to reduce speed to prevent an accident," which he explains is one of their "catch-alls" for minor incidents. The ticket is for $75.00, and offers me three resolutions: (1)Plead "guilty" by paying the $75.00 ticket, (2) Make a court appearance to plead "innocent" and open up a court case, (3) Paying the ticket, and taking a safety course to keep this off my record provided I have no incidents in the next 6 months. He also gives me the accident report and tells me to fill out a report of the accident and mail it within 10 days.
"Any questions?" I then ask him to indulge me as I repeat what he said to make sure I fully understand since I'm a bit shaken up (my first incident of any degree!). He then says he issued this claim as a "Property Damage" rather than "Personal Injury" since no one needed medical attention, or even had any scratches on their person. He also says that the damage on their car seems "almost negligible," and that they are going to go to the hospital just to be safe. I then ask about my license, and he says I can give him a Triple A card in place of my license to use as a "bail card" (not sure I heard that correctly). I take him up on his offer to relinquish my AAA card and to keep my license.
I call my insurance company again, my agent is still absent. The officer leaves, and I collect myself before starting my car and leaving myself.
I eventually (the next day) spoke to another representative at my insurance company, giving her details of the other driver, his phone number, car model, the location, the extent of the damage, and a quick explanation of what happened. I'm told my company will get in contact with the other party, and I will hear back from them afterwards.
I have yet to hear back from my company, or theirs, but just received a phonecall from the young woman's father. He states his name, and then says that his daughter was in the car from the accident. I ask how everyone's doing. He says "everyone seems to be fine." I say "that's good." He asks where my insurance company is and who they are. I answer with the name of my insurance company and offer to look up their phone number for him. I go to their website and give him their general phone number, and their claims phone number. He then says thank you, and we say goodbye.
Now, I know above it says not to speak to any parties involved, but I figured giving nothing more than my insurance company's number and asking how everyone is wasn't a problem (is it??). Then it hit me... why did her FATHER call me? Not either of their insurrance companies.... She's pregnant, so I understand the concern he would have for his daughter, but now I wonder if he works with insurance or as an attorney such that HE would call (unless he figured he'd take things into his own hands if my company has neglected to contact him yet).
What happens now? I wait for more information, I imagine. But I'm unable to focus at work out of nerves and stress that I'm going to get tagged by some extreme lawsuit. I need to seek advice and knowledge so that I'm prepared for what may come! What're the possibilities if there IS a complication in the pregnancy (she was barely showing, so it could be a while until we know)? What can I do to protect myself from them trying to gouge me? I take responsibility for what happened, but I'm not willing to let someone walk all over me if I can fight it.
M. from Illinois
Posted: 13 Oct 2008 08:55 Post Subject:
If you gave them your number that may be why they called you. When there is an accident the at fault driver actaully has (so my ins. com. told me ) up to 48 hrs to report the accident. If the other car isn't drivable or there are med bills the party hit may want to get the info sooner. You should have probaly left your insurance company handle the matter but whats done is done.
When I was hit the person "totaled" my truck to pieces. I was informed of the abov e info when I called. I needed another vehicle but had to wait until teh other person reported the accident to their insurance company. Good Luck. Let us know how things turn out for you.
Posted: 13 Oct 2008 09:54 Post Subject:
Posted: 13 Oct 2008 09:56 Post Subject:
Posted: 13 Oct 2008 09:57 Post Subject: Father of pregnant woman called
I reported to my insurance company within 48 hours, and the other party had my number because of the accident report from the police officer. Both cars are drivable and were driven from the scene after the police resolved the scene. I'm playing by the book so as to not give them any "dirt" should they decide to open a lawsuit against me for any reason.
I considered giving the other driver a call to see if any results came back from the hospital visit to indicate any damages, but I'm in unfamiliar ground; I'm a well-meaning individual concerned that they're doing well, but also wary to avoid getting screwed by them or inadvertently saying/asking something that could be used against me should we enter into a lawsuit.
M. from Illinois
Posted: 13 Oct 2008 11:13 Post Subject:
Your insurance company is handling things. Don't make any calls or any comments. Refer everything to your insurance company.
I know you mean well but...any little thing, like calling to see how they are doing (are you doing this out of guilt because you knew it was your fault? etc...), can be turned around against you.
Posted: 13 Oct 2008 11:17 Post Subject:
It is kind of sad but I get your meaning. I can understand how the poster would want to know how they were doing. Thaleads to this question...can your own insuranc e company have a way to update you on there condition? People with a kind heart would want to know how the other party is doing.
Posted: 13 Oct 2008 11:21 Post Subject:
Sure...call the claims rep at your insurance company. No reason he/she can't keep the policy holder up to date.
Posted: 13 Oct 2008 11:27 Post Subject:
Thats really good to know. I know I would want to be updated.
Posted: 14 Oct 2008 01:02 Post Subject:
Welcome 'M' to the community, first off I'm going to split this to it's own thread..now, take a deep breath and try to relax...everything is going to be just fine...
More than likely your adjuster had not contacted the other party yet, that is why dad was calling...do they have an attorney already? maybe so wouldn't surprise me in the slightest...and that's one reason dad might've wanted the information to give to the attorney, but don't panic just yet, just because someone is attorney represented doesn't mean a law suit...and if there is one your insurance company will provide a defense and pay for it...alot of times people (stupid) run straight to an atty before they even talk to an adjuster...happens all the time, and mostly with these little bitty accidents....she more than likely will present a bodily injury claim...she went to get checked at the hospital so I'm sure she will your company will owe for that...if she's smart she won't settle her injury claim until this baby is born...that is what I would've advised ANYONE to do...what are the chances this little bump hurt her or the baby? slim to none, but if it were your daughter you'd tell her the same thing, cause we don't know till the little bugger is here...
The main thing is your carrier won't let her run crazy and pay a bundle for this little wreck...we see people try that sort of thing all the time...if she is this ''type'' she won't get it done...they will take care of her vehicle damage and then discuss her injury claim...and the drivers too if he presents one....
Don't talk to them anymore about ANYTHING, if an attorney calls you don't talk to them either, give them your adjusters name and number and that is it..period....
We're here if you have any questions, try not to worry I assure you this happens mulitple times a day...the adjuster will know how to handle it...
Also, I'm not so sure the adjuster (due to these crazy privacy laws) will be able to tell you much other than yes, the claim is closed, and we paid this much or no it's still open...but certainly ask anyway....
Posted: 14 Oct 2008 05:05 Post Subject: Ins. Comp. just called.
Thank you everyone for your support/advice!
I just got off the phone with an adjuster from my insurance company; the other party is filing an injuries claim, and the adjuster called for information and to arrange a time to come view the damage to my bumper. She assured me that they would try to ensure they didn't claim more than was reasonable, and planned to call them after speaking with me. So I guess it's just time to sit and wait then?
M. from Illinois
Posted: 14 Oct 2008 06:10 Post Subject:
M I think if you just hang in there everything will be fine. Hope it all goes well for you and the pregnant lady. Keep us posted.
Posted: 15 Oct 2008 09:47 Post Subject:
So I guess it's just time to sit and wait then?yep, you can't force someone to settle there are statutes of limitations, you can check and see what your states are most are 2-5-10 years...don't set and stew and worry about this...really...it's gonna be fine, ESPECIALLY since they are coming to see how LITTLE damage there is to your vehicle... :wink:
Posted: 15 Oct 2008 11:28 Post Subject:
My goodness SOL's that go on for ten years...Isn't this a long time for someone to sit back and worried if they will be sued??? I mean that is really up there.
Posted: 16 Oct 2008 10:39 Post Subject:
yeah, but suing truely rarely happens..in over two decades I've seen about 8
Posted: 17 Oct 2008 11:31 Post Subject:
I think that is good that you haven't seen many. I guess I just feel that if someone makes a mistake they shouldn't have it come back and bite them ten years later.
Posted: 03 Nov 2008 04:56 Post Subject: Settlement
I received an email on Halloween (ironic timing!) informing me that the other party has settled their claims and everyone is alright. The adjuster told me to contact my agent to see what'll happen to my premium though... :? Ah well, it could have been worse I suppose.
Thanks to everyone for the support and information; looks like everything turned out fine in the end (like you said it would, :lol: I'm just a worrier!).
M. from Illinois
Posted: 03 Nov 2008 11:33 Post Subject:
You are very welcome M and if you need any other help in the future please stop back. I am really glad to hear everyone is alright. Thanks for updating us.
Posted: 04 Nov 2008 02:00 Post Subject:
So glad this 'chapter' of your life is over for you "M" I know how much you fretted over it, I'm a worrier too....let us know if we can ever be of assistance to you again...