The Proper Way To Have A Car Accident

Last night I was minding my own business, driving through town on my way home via a neighborhood where Hottie McHousehunter wants to see houses tomorrow, when I had to stop at a light. I’ll admit I had to stop a little faster than I generally like… just one of those traffic things that sometimes happens. I was still well clear of the car in front of me, but whenever I have to lay on the brakes a little harder than usual, I tend to check the rearview for signs of impending doom from behind.


Yes, there it was: a mini-van coming right at me. I had enough time to think, He’s going to hit me. Well, maybe not…. Yep. He is.

He did.

Fortunately, I also had enough time to make sure I wasn’t sitting in an awkward position and tell myself not to tense up too much so my well-documented (in these annals) spinal issues would be minimized. When the slam came (I’d guess he was at about 15 mph when he hit me) my head did bounce from the headrest, but not too terribly hard, and I didn’t get shoved into the car in front of me – something else I had had time to worry about.

We all (he had passengers) sort of sat there for a few seconds, watching each other, before I finally threw the car in park, hit the flashers and got out. Then he got out. We exchanged “You okay?” questions and then went about the business of inspecting our vehicles. Good amount of damage to each. This was no “bump.” His grill was in pieces, some of which had skidded under the back of my car. His passenger side headlight was broken, and his hood was lipped a bit over its proper place. My bumper was scuffed, scratched and generally ugly all over the place, and the driver’s side of it had popped free of its anchoring. But there were no cracks or dents that I could see. And the trunk still released and closed without a problem.

“I’m sorry,” the other driver said, breaking what my father had told me as a teen was the first rule of an accident: never admit fault. Clearly when you rear-end someone at a stoplight, it’s your fault, but you still don’t say it. I was impressed with this guy’s willingness to ‘fess up. I was also pretty happy with how my car had held up, actually. Not that it’s not going to cost $1200 or so to fix. Easy.

By the time I looked up, two cops had appeared within feet of where I was standing. Like Batman or something. (Yes, Batman before it seemed chilling to make reference to him.)

“Oh. Hello,” I said. “Handy of you to appear.”

“We were right there,” said one of the officers, pointing to a side street where another cruiser still remained, lights flashing. “We heard it happen.”

“Yeah,” said the other driver sheepishly. “That’s actually what I was looking at. I saw those guys over there, saw their lights, and I was looking that way when…”

The officers nodded. He’d just admitted fault to them, too. Because of them, even. But not really. This guy was really manning up.

He told me very cordially about how he’s on his mother’s insurance (he’s 27) and she’s going to kill him, because he’s had accidents before and his little sister just had one, too. This is the kind of stuff that would normally lead me to distrust even a nun, but this guy seemed so genuine that I wasn’t worried. I had gone to get my phone to take some pictures (remember before, when we couldn’t do that?) but the battery was low; it wouldn’t let me take any shots.

“Here,” said the other driver. “You can use my phone and I’ll email you the pictures.”

Are you kidding me, dude?

I eyed him with a half-smile on my face. “Really, you will?”

“Yeah,” he said. “I will.”

So I used his phone, which is much nicer than mine, snapped about 10 photos and handed it back. The officers gave us forms so we could fill out each other’s pertinent information and signed off. The other driver found a separate piece of paper and wrote down his email address; I, in turn, wrote down mine.

“So when should I expect to get your email?” I asked, gently making the point that I wouldn’t forget he owed me the photos.

“I’m going to send them to you tonight,” he said. It was midnight already. But sure enough, those photos were in my inbox by the time I went to bed.

Today, as I got out of bed a bit sore in the neck and the low back, I got a call from his… well, his mother’s insurance company. “The insured has already said she will absolutely pay for all the damages, no problem,” the claims agent said.

Well, I’ll be.

Let’s hope the insurance company and my repair shop will play as nicely together as the other driver and I did.

Still time to wander over to Peg-O-Leg’s page and vote (for me, obviously) in her fun contest! There are some brilliant folks in the running… Peg herself is pretty swell… but I’d appreciate your support in my effort toward world blog domination.

It’s admittedly a very slow-moving effort.

13 thoughts on “The Proper Way To Have A Car Accident

  1. I’m glad you’re OK and that you seem to have been hit by a responsible person. The last time I was hit (I wasn’t in the car, it was parked) the young man on his mother’s insurance drove off but came back when a woman took a picture of his car with her cell phone. After that, everything went fine.

  2. Wow, the most polite and well-organized accident ever! The one accident my mum was in, the (very at-fault, was speeding, and through a red light) other guy involved got out of his car and started screaming at her about how it was her fault (for going through a green light, when it had been green for some time… obviously, her fault). Most accidents don’t go so well. Glad to hear you’re well.

    • That’s what you always fear, isn’t it? That some irate person will come storming illogically out of his car and at you, where you’re already tensed up. So much of it happens so surreally… I’m really grateful the experience wasn’t a bad one (beyond the impact – and before the insurance gets involved)!

  3. Glad to hear you’re safe. It’s been three months since I started driving, and the one piece of advice I get from the veterans all the time is : If someone rear-ends you, before you check whether your bones are in place, note down the number of the guy right behind you, coz he/she has incentive to run right away before the cops arrive. I am actually surprised your guy admitted to it. But, I do think that not all rear-ends are that black and white; sometimes it is the rear-endee’s fault!

    • You’re probably right, but according to the law and insurance companies it’s the rear-ender’s fault unless you pull out into traffic in front of them. Anyway, yes, I was very refreshed that he admitted it and glad he had insurance. It could so easily have gone so badly! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Man, if you gotta have a car wreck, this is the way to do it. 15 MPH?! You’re lucky you weren’t hurt. What a shame that we tend to think of the other driver’s honesty as stupidity. He could’ve said “Hey, he slammed on his brakes and even tho’ I was going the speed limit, it was impossible for me to stop w/o hitting him.”

    • Hi there! Well… I was a little hurt, mostly because of the existing issues with my back and my neck. I have bulging degenerative discs. Good times. But I’ll get better! You’re right about honesty/stupidity – I hope that didn’t come across as too cynical for someone I presume has not read my blog before. I did really appreciate the other driver’s honesty. I give him a lot of credit for that.

  5. Pingback: In Which I Have (Almost) No Real New Things To Say | thesinglecell

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