A week ago from today, I had first-hand experience of being in an auto accident. According to the American Heritage dictionary, accident is defined as an unexpected, undesirable event or an unforeseen, unexpected, unintentional, by chance event. Accidents usually happen at the most inconvenient times. Like most drivers, it is hard to admit that I was at fault for causing this accident. I was going to the Castleton Banquet and Conference Center in Windham, New Hampshire. The day was clear and the traffic appeared to be light on Route 111, I told the claims adjuster. In a few seconds, all of that would change. I came over the crest of the hill by the Castleton and was immediately upon a traffic backup at the light. There must have been some 20 odd cars backed up to almost the crest of hill. I was shocked into action for I had to stop quickly to avoid hitting anyone. Unfortunately, car ahead of me had the same concern and we both stomped on our brakes and pulled to the right hand shoulder to miss the car ahead of us. I had nowhere to stop for the driver ahead of thought of the same plan of action. There was a car directly behind me and I was fearful that he would rear- end me. I tried hard not to hit the car in front of me, but the right shoulder could not accommodate the both of us.
All went well, so to speak. Thank God no one was hurt but my car did receive front end damage. The driver in front of me had an SUV with a trailer hitch that proved to be a formidable opponent for my Hyundai. Her car had little or no damage to her bumper but my Hyundai’s hood and grill were deeply dented. I also was gently tapped on the rear of my car by the driver in back of me. Luckily, unlike the front of my car, there was no damage to either of our cars. Being an insurance agent, I knew this accident would be deemed my fault for I rear-ended the car in front of me. The NH law states that you must have control of your vehicle at all times, regardless of what you find in front of you.
I am aware of what we are supposed to do at the scene of an accident, but to be honest; I was shaken up and not really clear on what I needed to do. I got out of the car to be sure that the people car ahead of me were fine. The driver that lightly tapped me in the rear got out of his car also to see what damage had been done. Before I could speak with the driver in the car in front of me, the driver in the car in back of me started shouting. He said that there wasn’t any damage to either of our cars, so he left. Things were happening so quickly that I was unable to get any of his information. I also got little information from the driver that I struck. I did notice the kind of car she had, its color, got her name and address and that she was insured by Liberty Mutual insurance but I really knew little more. When I called my claim into MetLife insurance, I found that there were several other pieces of information I should have obtained.
After the accident and calling in my claim, I found on the back of my vehicle registration wallet that is given out by our agency – the instructions for what to do if you had an accident. There were several easy steps to follow:
- Stop immediately, but do not obstruct traffic.
- Assist injured and have someone call the police. Repeat after five minutes.
- Secure names, phone numbers, addresses of other drivers, witnesses, and injured persons.
- Secure, make, model, license numbers of all cars involved.
- Make rough drawing of seeing, showing position of cars and other details.
- Don’t hastily accept claim settlement at the scene of the accident.
- Remain calm, courteous, and consistent in your version of the accident.
- Notify your insurance company or agency as soon as possible.
As you can see, in the heat of the moment I certainly did not follow completely the eight steps of what you should do at the scene of an automobile accident. Hopefully, there will not be another accident any too soon, but I will try to remember that little wallet in my glove compartment that can help me secure all the information needed regarding my accident. Sometimes it is good, like the doctor to experience what your clients go through. I now have a much greater appreciation for the clarity that some people have at the time of their accident to get all the information.
I hope you have an accident free future.