There was an 18-month period between 2017 and 2018 where I was involved in three car accidents. Two cars were totaled, and none of them were my fault. I learned that there is a vast difference in how auto insurance companies pay for the damages their clients inflict.
The first accident was in 2017, driving home from an International Women's Day event with my two daughters. We were on a main road near a park and a few retail establishments. As we passed the entrance to the park, there was the screech of tires, and, an instant later, the sickening sound of metal scratching as we were T-boned by a brand-new Mercedes convertible. We didn't sustain any injuries, and the airbags were never deployed, but we were pretty shaken up. A good Samaritan said that he'd vouch for the fact that the other driver was at fault. The young man who hit me was probably in shock and didn't say much. We exchanged insurance information, and much to my relief, he was insured by a large carrier. My husband picked us up since we were just a few miles from home. He acted as a calming presence as we tried to get things out of the car before it got towed, but my stomach was in knots. I'd never been in an accident with this much damage to my car.
Here are a few takeaways in case you find yourself in an accident:
- Never leave the scene, even if your car didn't get hit, but you might have caused the accident. Leaving opens you up to all sorts of legal peril, so when in doubt, stick around until a police officer tells you that you're free to go.
- Call 911 to get an officer out to make a report.
- Don't argue with the other driver, as tensions can escalate quickly.
- Take photos of the insurance card of the other driver if you can.
- Take photos of the accident and street conditions to show hazards.
- Contact your insurance agent to let them know what's happened and if anyone will be calling them. If you are at fault, let your insurance company know what happened and send the police report.
- Even if it was not your fault, contact your insurance agent first to let them know what happened so that if you need to get their help, they are appraised of the situation.