Hello, and welcome to my new blog. I am very excited to be writing the first of many articles which will deal with how the law interacts with the lives of real people. My aim is to inform, and hopefully entertain. I welcome your feedback, and I hope that if you are in need of an injury lawyer you will contact me.
Today let's talk about what to do if you get into a fender bender. In future articles, I will discuss what to do if you are in a car wreck and suffer an injury. Today, however, we are going to keep it simple and just talk about fender benders where neither you nor the other driver is injured, and where you are not at fault.
Let's suppose that you are in a shopping mall parking lot, sitting in your car before you start it to leave, and someone backs into you from behind. You both get out of the car, and there is damage to your car, which will be about $1,000 to repair. Here is a short list of things you should know, and do (or not do):
- Call the police and make a report immediately. I know this is a pain, especially if damage is light, but it will save you headaches down the road. People often volunteer to pay for the damage out of their own pocket, or assure you they have insurance, after you get them an estimate for repairs. At a later date they turn out to be uninsured, and they forget their previous promise to pay for the damage. A police report will increase the odds that you will be able to recover for your damage. Don’t fall for a sob story from the other driver (“I don’t have time to wait for the police- my mother’s in the hospital dying and I may not be able to see her again.”). They are free to leave ( although it could be a crime leave, depending on the circumstances), but you should stick around until the police show up.
- Exchange information with the other driver, and take a cell phone photo of their driver's license (front and back), their license plate, and photos of the area of impact on both cars. If the other car clearly has pre-existing damage, photograph that too. Make sure that the license plate photo is clear enough that you can see that the tags are not expired. Get the driver’s phone number, and current home address.
- Get the other driver’s insurance company’s name and if possible their agent’s name. When you get home call their insurance company directly and report the claim. Write down the claim number for future reference.
- Never say that it was partly my fault or that you are partly to blame.
- Never get into an argument or display hostility to the other driver. If the other driver becomes hostile, get in your car and wait for the police to arrive.
- Avoid making a claim against your own insurance policy unless you absolutely have to. Many times it will count against you in your claims history, and cause your premiums to rise. Check with your agent before you file a claim to make sure it won’t count against your claims experience rating.
- If your claim is not resolved by agreement within about 10 business days after you provide estimates of repair as requested by the driver’s insurance adjuster, contact a lawyer. You are entitled not only to repair costs, but also loss of use and diminished value.
I hope these tips are helpful to you. See you next time.