Accidents Happen


When you are involved in an accident of any kind my number one piece of advice is to call the police and DON’T MOVE THE VEHICLE UNTIL THEY GET THERE. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of problems with my customers and their insurance companies. I know everyone is in a rush and no one wants to be stuck on the side of the road waiting for the police when there are just minor dents on their cars but this is the exact time that you need a report. This is what I’m seeing: You are driving along and someone tries to cut in front of you and hits the side of your car. Both vehicles get small dents, the other driver gets out and says, “I’m so sorry, it was my fault”.  Neither one of you wants to wait so you exchange info yourselves and go on your merry way. Next day you call the insurance company to put in a claim only to find out the other guy has already made a claim on his insurance and BLAMED YOU for the accident. Now it’s his word against yours and unless witnesses come forward then the insurance company can’t make a determination. If you have full coverage on your car then they’ll pay to fix it but minus the deductible. If you only have liability coverage, then you’re flat out of luck getting your car repair paid for. The other driver has not only claimed the accident was your fault but all of a sudden the little dent  now includes all the previous scratches on the vehicle and oh yeah, his back hurts and now he sues you.

Let’s change the scenario:   Same accident but you wait for the police to show up. He hasn’t yet gotten on the phone to his friends and family who inform  him  this could be his big payday and he actually admits it “might” have been his fault. More importantly the officer states the placement of the vehicles which might show whose fault it was. The officer will also report what the actual dents are and perhaps the force of the impact. I say it’s better to be armed with too  much info then not enough and I’m constantly seeing customers get screwed over for their deductible’s because they didn’t want to wait.

I just ran this post by one of my close friends, a lawyer, and he’s arguing this point with me. He hates when people in small accidents don’t move their cars out of the way. He thinks that no matter what, anything can be argued away, even with a report (but arguing is his job). I’m holding the line on this one but do what you will and  at the very least take a ton of pics. I have anecdotal evidence from customers that my advice has helped them.

If all that doesn’t convince you then this might. A few years ago, I was in a ski resort parking lot moving my car forward so I could open the door. Stupidly,  I still had my ski boot on (an insanely moronic move)  and my foot slipped off the accelerator lurching the car forward into the parked car across  from  me. We got out and looked at the other car and there was no damage so we loaded up and left. A few weeks went by and I got a call from the local police (a witness had left a note).  Not only had I left the scene of the crime but  there was now $1,800 worth of damage that the police insisted I pay out of my own pocket or they’d arrest me .  Even the smallest accident can cause the biggest hassle and calling the police in to mediate is not a waste of your time.


About dontgetwrenched

Elayne Kling, was the owner of a downtown Manhattan auto repair shop for 25 years and recently in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Elayne knows the particular ins and outs of the auto repair world and keeps up her blog because people will always need help navigating the potential pitfalls of that world. Due to the crazy NYC real estate market she has since closed down her shop and started a new business called Projects Unlimited Inc., helping other small businesses.
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