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Accident Without Injuries Etiquette (Fall 2011) << Back
Your teenage daughter misjudges the space when she goes around a turning vehicle, and just taps the car's right rear bumper. The other driver, an older woman, appears unhurt. She says, “I'm fine. Let's just forget about it.”
You were riding with your daughter and you think that's a reasonable attitude, and agree. So you all go home and continue to have a nice life.
A few weeks later, however, your insurance company informs you that the woman is suing them and you for lost wages (although she had already been on disability for paranoid schizophrenia) and neck injuries (you've seen her in the shop where you work without a cervical collar) and pain and suffering.
Where did you go wrong? The so-called accident was only a tiny tap that barely scratched paint. There couldn't have been an injury, as your terrified daughter tells your insurance company's attorney prior to trial.
So when should you file a claim with your auto or homeowner's insurance? Common sense says if the repairs cost less than the deductible, you're better off paying for the repairs on your own. With this in mind, you may even want to consider taking a higher deductible on your insurance to lower your rates. Take the money you save on the lower rates and deposit it into a savings account. In the event you are involved in an accident, you will have the money for the repairs even if the cost is slightly higher than your deductible.
Prior to trial! Holy cow.
No one can guarantee what might happen when bumpers kiss. But there are steps you can take to avoid fender-benders becoming the event of the decade.
Your first thought might be to call the police. But in some jurisdictions, the police will not respond unless there are injuries.  In any case, by taking the steps below even without the police present you can protect yourself from false claims and help your insurance company reach the best decisions:
First, follow the law. Virtually every jurisdiction requires drivers to carry their license, registration and insurance information. Be sure it’s with all your family drivers at all times.
Second, take pictures. If you don’t have a cell phone to do so, keep a disposable camera in the glove compartment and in the event of a fender bender, use it. Photos can later help show whether any repair estimates were inflated, or whether the force of contact was likely to cause injuries that might later be claimed by the other driver or passengers.
Also, take pictures of all the occupants of the other car, at least while they are all still at the scene. Why? There's a fraud scheme called jump ins. In an attempt to get a bigger settlement, people known to the claimant come forward and say they were also in the car and also suffered injuries.
Take pictures of the site of the accident. Having photos of the cars on location can help you make your own case to the claims adjuster. Write down the specifics of the location as well.
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AHTKY Insurance Agency, LLC
1451 W. Artesia Blvd, Suite A, Gardena, California 90248
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