Got into my first car accident tonight :(

So, I’m driving to my brother’s house around 6 PM to spend some time with him and his family before he takes off on vacation to spend the holidays with his in-laws on the other side of the country. It’s dark, it’s raining very hard, and it’s rush hour so the highway is packed with speeding cars and commuter buses kicking up massive sprays of water that obscure the vision of any car unfortunate enough to be near them.

I’m just about 2/3s of the way to my brother’s house, nearing an intersection on the highway, and the light turns from green to yellow - I start to brake, slow enough not to lose traction on the wet road and still stop as the first car in my lane in front of the light. The pickup truck in front of me was too close to the intersection when the light turned yellow so he wasn’t braking. BUT, about 2 seconds after I start to slow down, the truck in front of me brakes hard and hits a complete stop from what looked like previous acceleration - I slam my brakes in response because now I won’t have the extra braking space taken up by the truck. My tires lock, my car slides on the wet pavement, and I slam into the back of the pickup.

My seatbelt restrained me, but it wasn’t a severe enough jolt for the airbag to deploy. I get out, the guy in the truck gets out, and it turns out the driver he referred to as “some dumb bitch” right in front of him had come to a complete and sudden stop with pretty much her car partially in the intersection when the yellow light hit. She won’t leave her car, I don’t get a good look cause it’s raining too hard, but I see him and her talking. The front of my car is crushed in but the engine’s still running and the lights still work, while the back bumper of his pickup is bent down and inward. We decide to pull over to the curb and wait out for the police to show up - both of us first because apparently the 1st car, the woman’s, is having some engine problems according to her (from what he told me).

To end an already overlong story, both me and the pickup pull over to the curb, upon which the woman who pretty much caused the accident takes off in her car, leaving the scene entirely (the truck managed to avoid hitting her car). The pickup driver doesn’t blame me, he’s pissed at “the dumb bitch”; a cop shows up and gets our info, writes up a report (the pickup driver mentions the first car but we don’t have any of that person’s info so the point is moot) and I manage to drive my car back home.

Overall, I’m pissed off because it was a stupid accident, but relieved that neither myself nor the other driver were really hurt, and that most of the damage (to my untrained eyes) to my car seems to only involve body work.

Count yourself lucky that it wasn’t worse. It sounds like, all things considered, it was pretty minor (even though it never seems that way when it’s you that went through it). I hope you’re insured, though. A car accident (at least, one that isn’t a fender-bender) is always really stressful. Hopefully you’ll never have to go through one again!

A word of advice: talk to your insurance adjuster all you want, but be very much on your guard if you get a call from the truck driver’s insurance adjuster. That person will want to gather any evidence they can that shows you’re at fault. (Also, although I don’t know the law in New Jersey, prepare yourself psychologically for the idea that you’re probably legally at fault even though that woman came to an unnecessary stop.)

Ditto. I’ve lost 30% of movement in my left hand due to my last accident. I thank God everyday that my sister and my girlfriend at the time was able to walk away from it without any injury.

I thank God everyday that my sister and my girlfriend at the time was able to walk away from it without any injury.

Dirt, why did your sister break up with you?

Now THAT was funny.

I was in one accident myself about eight years ago, in a VW beetle (the old kind, a '71 convertable), which was both totally unavoidable and not the fault of either myself or the truck I slammed into.

Totally crumpled the trunk of my bug, which of course is in the front, and the giant F250 pickup I hit wasn’t even scratched. The a-hole in his lowered, gold-plated Mercedes drove off immediately and we didn’t get a plate number.

I was jarred but good. Had I not been wearing my seat belt, I’d have hit the windshield and steering wheel hard enough to mean major reconstructive surgery. As it is, I suffered no real bodily harm. And to think the bug had no seat belts when I first got it and I had to install some.

I’ve witnessed dozens of accidents and been hit many times by other drivers. My best answer to ANY insurance company person that calls, even when I was only a witness, is “refer to the statement I made to the police”. This includes to my own insurance company. It has the info I wrote down at the time as best as I recalled then. Weeks or months later, who knows what really happened?

It’s always “some dumb bitch”. Fortunately, nowadays bitch is a gender-neutral term so no one will assume that every accident I’ve ever been victimized in has involved a woman, particularly petite or old ladies who need a detuned M1A2… er… Ford Excursion in order to feel safe and inflict maximum carnage.

Hey Balut where in NJ do you live? I live in South Jersay and our insurance sucks.

Central Jersey - Middlesex County. And yes, it does.

The only problem with that is that your own contract with your insurance company probably says that you’re required to provide them with a statement before they are required to cover your claim. Again, I don’t know the law in NJ and I haven’t looked at Balut’s policy, so YMMV. But I worked for three different insurance companies here in CA, and all three had an iron-clad requirement for a recorded statement. Occasionally I would get someone who refused to provide me one. Generally, I would tell them I couldn’t pay their claim until I got a statement from my insured (there were rare exceptions–ususally when there was only a small amount of money at stake).

The reason for it is probably pretty obvious. The insurance company wants to make their own determination as to who is at fault (and, in a “comparative negligence” state like California, how MUCH each person is at fault). Police sometimes write things down wrong or don’t write them down at all. Police officers have no interest in who is at fault unless a crime has been committed (such as vehicular manslaughter or DUI) or they are going to give someone a ticket (which they often don’t). In fact, in California, the LAPD does not even WRITE vehicle accident reports unless somebody is hurt (I don’t think the CHP does, either). So, the person handling your claim is probably going to have lots of questions that are not answered in a police report, and is also going to want to see what your demeanor is like in case some aspect of the case goes to trial (like if the truck guy says “My back hurts so bad that all I can do is lay on my couch and eat potato chips all day for the next year…you guys will have to pick up the tab for my lost job.”)

Similarly, the other person’s insurance company ALSO may not be willing to pay without getting a statement, although that is much less likely. They have no legal right to demand a statement, of course (since you have no contract with them), but at the same time they have no legal obligtion to pay you anything until they are satisfied that their guy owes you something. Probably not an issue in Balut’s case, though, since regardless of the woman’s fault, the truck guy does not seem like he was at fault at all (his brake lights were working, right?).

Of course, Balut’s company may be different. And even if they normally get a statement, they may think that liability is so clear in this case (rear-end accidents are almost always legally the fault of the person in back, no matter what the people in front did) that they don’t need one. It never hurts to tell them “no.” At worst, they’ll say “I can’t pay anything without a statement” and you can go, “Okay, fine, I’ll give you one.” Good luck!

I’ll have to keep that in mind. I haven’t actually been in an accident at all since I moved to California, all my previous experience was in Nevada. Thanks for the update.

I was of the opinion that any impact on the rear of another vehicle is your fault. It is here in Australia- I hope your state is a bit more understanding. I’ve had my share of close calls in that regard- wet weather can be pretty scary when you forget how bald your tyres are getting.

I suspect that’s right. You’re supposed to be driving far enough behind to stop.

I think the only exception made is for chain reactions, but I am not sure.

There are one, perhaps two exceptions. The first is if someone backs into you, the second (and this depends on the state/province/country you live in) is if you were hit from behind and slammed into the person in front of you.

But otherwise, yeah, nothing you can say or do will get you off the hook.

I have had two vehicles plow into the back of me on separate occasions. Both times I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a car in front. The problem is my car stops very quickly because it has ABS brakes. Most cars don’t.

I’d rather be hit from behind then from the side or the front. Repairs are usually less expensive, and a properly adjusted headrest prevents injuries.

Lemme know when you see a smart accident. In the meantime, save up some extra beans to pay your increased insurance premiums. The period of increased premiums will probably last a couple years.

Mine did. It was much less than the cost of damages, however.

Repair cost for my unibody RAV-4 quarterpanel: $2500.
Repair cost for a busted headlight and bumper on a beat-up pickup: unknown, let’s say $1000.
Total 24-month premium increase: $800.

Here’s what I learned that day:

lesson 0: insurance is good.
lesson 1: obey stop signs, even those obscured by trees and brush.
lesson 2: if you don’t see the red octagon until you are 8 feet from the intersection, break HARD. Especially if you can’t see what’s headed towards you (due to aforementioned shrubbery).
lesson 3: if you’re half-way into an intersection and the oncoming pickup carrying propane canisters is 15 feet from you, step on the gas and keep going so that you don’t get broadsided. That’s what saved me/us.

There are a few exceptions for the ability to stop rule. Thank god. Once while I was going to kent state, i had the wonderful experience of hitting two cop cars at the same time. And thankfully in a very rare moment of winter break - i was sober.

There was an icy hill by the music/theater building. A cop had blocked one lane because a car had slid off the road into a ditch. Another cop pulled along side the first cop to talk about donuts or whatever.

I came over the hill doing 5mph and started pumping the breaks from 100 ft away as I could see the situation. I beeped, i flashed my lights (the whole accident unfolded in the most painful of slow motion). Instead of picking one cop car, I perfectly placed my car in the center, hitting both.

As soon as I hit (very minor hit - but still they were freaking cop cars), the one cop jumped out and came up and apologized. The other cop was a chick and she was a bitch. A third cop came to take statements and as soon as he saw how freaked out i was (he was a kent cop), he told me they didn’t follow procedure of lighting flares above the area and since they blocked both lanes etc - i was not at fault and he gave me his number and said he would testify as such. He also said, this was the only time he ever saw a rear end accident that was not the fault of the person hitting the other car.

I still shit my pants. But i never paid a dime or got a summons. My girlfriend at the time dad was pissed about some damage to the bumper, but she took the blame. She was a pretty good girlfriend.


Hopefully she laundered your pants.