Wednesday, 19 October 2011

It's called an accident for a reason, it's not an "On Purpose"

Hopefully you have never had the misfortune to have been in a car accident, but suppose you were, or your teenage child was?  What's the first thing you would do?

I know that both my kids took driving lessons, and were taught what to do if an accident occurred, but were they listening?

I just assumed that they were, until the day my daughter called and said she had been in an accident.

She was rear ended by another vehicle.  It was a dark and rainy night, she and the other driver pulled over, but instead of exchanging information, the other driver said, "you OK? there isn't any damage" and got in his car and left.

You would be surprised how much of a shock it is to your body/brain, just being in an accident, even if you do not feel injured.  I was an insurance adjuster for many years, specializing in injury claims from car accidents.  I don't know why I did not discuss "what to do if you have an accident" with my kids, I just assumed the knew or they would call me.....(too much assumption on my part )

So here's my advice:
Print this list and put it in your glove box

  • call 911 if there are injuries
  • take photos, use your cellphone or a passenger can do this for you.
  • take a photo of the other car, get the license plate in the shot.
  • take a photo of the intersection, street signs, and actual resting place of the cars if they have not been moved
  • look for witnesses, even take photos of car's license plates that were behind you, they might leave before you can ask for a phone number, ICBC can track a license plate to get witness info later if needed.  (best to get witness names and phone numbers if you can)
  • Call your parents, family member if you need help (no one will be mad at you) 
  • Now get out a pen and paper and write down the license plate number, look at the other person's driver's license, is it the right person? write down the D.L. number, and the registration number from the insurance papers that go with the car, as well as driver's phone numbers & passenger names.
  • if you don't have a pen take pictures of those items (make sure it is clear though, could be hard in the dark, you could also do a voice recording on your phone of the numbers ) 
  • There is no need to get into a discussion about who is at fault, or how much the repairs will cost etc, You have Insurance for that, let the experts handle it!
  • If the other person knows it is their fault and they want to pay for your repairs privately, you can tell them you will discuss this tomorrow to avoid conflict.  But the next day you should tell them the answer is NO, if the other driver is at fault he can repay ICBC for the damages and his insurance will not be affected.  All drivers have this choice.  Using a stranger's bodyshop to repair your car is just asking for trouble.

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