This post is not a topic I can claim to be an expert. My experience comes from talking to my insurance agent, and from conversations with friends and family that have had unfortunate experiences with accidents and their subsequent crash course in the school of hard knocks. I was so surprised at the outcome of one recent incident that I felt compelled to do more research and share some simple tips.
My insurance agent told me of an incident where a mother was stopped at traffic light waiting to turn right. A teenager came across the intersection as the light was turning green and was almost hit by two other cars. The boy on the bike avoided being hit and ran into the side of her van. No visible damage except that everyone was startled by what happened and wondered what to do next. The driver had a van full of flowers and it was the middle of the summer. The teenager was startled and probably the first time he’s been in an accident. The teenage boy on the bike confirmed that he was fine and no damage to the bike and just wanted to get on his way. No apparent damage to the vehicle and everyone had places to go so there’s no problem in getting on with a busy schedule, correct?
The way this played out was that the teenage boy left in a hurry after confirming he was OK, and the driver of the van had places to go and with no apparent damage to her van she went on her way. The problem with this situation is that after everyone has left the scene of the accident stories can change as quickly as the stop light. The driver returned home where her husband told her to call the police. Upon calling the police they found out the teenager’s mom had called the police saying that her son had been hit and the driver left the scene.
My insurance agent calls this the Rule of the 3 P’s. Police, Pictures, and People.
This is critical so that stories don’t change down the road, figuratively speaking. The police report will establish the facts, document any damage and assess culpability of anyone at the scene. This will prevent changes after everyone has left the scene. What is said at the scene is often forgotten or changed.
Don’t leave the scene of the accident.
This is where your cell phone becomes more useful than just viewing Facebook or Instagram. Take pictures of the damage to your car. Take pictures of the damage to the other car. Take pictures of anything that you feel will be helpful to your insurance company.
Rule #3 – Know the People Involved.
Keep that cell phone out and take a picture of their driver’s license and insurance card. If you can get a picture of the other driver, great. Why would you want to do this? What if the person driving is not the owner? Also get information on any witnesses in case they need to be contacted later on.
How did things finish in the end for driver of the van. The teenager’s mom had contacted an attorney, probably an accident lawyer on TV. They demanded $1,000,000 as a settlement. Remember, it’s his word against hers. After the police interviewed the boy, the police report was written in favor of the driver. Sensing their case was falling apart the attorney’s settled for a much smaller amount; enough to cover their fees and believe it or not some compensation to the boy.
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