For those who’ve never had the misfortune of being involved in a collision, this should be something of a must read. For those who’ve been unfortunate enough to have lived through one, it will all sound familiar, apologies if it triggers off bad memories.
Here is how it all goes down.
It is 8.43 am at an Mississauga intersection. I am behind a large transport vehicle, the dedicated green signal is on, but the transport is slow as it makes the left and in the process blocks both lanes. As I stop at the intersection, I look up for any oncoming traffic, there are no vehicles in sight, so I proceed to turn left into one lane and that’s when it happened, out of seemingly nowhere I am blindsided by a speeding two-door sports convertible car going straight. In a split second I am involved in my first ever collision.
The good news is I am not hurt, neither is the driver of the sports car who was in all honestly speeding, his air bags deploy and car immobilized by the impact. The driver is young and mad at the destruction of his nice set of wheels.
The bad news is what follows.
A cyclist is the witness who makes the 911 call. Minutes later two tow trucks arrive, I almost begin to think that the call was first made to them. The cop car follows, then the fire engine and the ambulance arrive in that order. There is no fire to put out and no victims to tend, so after enquiring about our well-being, the half-a-dozen or more personnel depart.
The tow truck guys are professionals. They are an empathetic bunch and it is almost as if they are the fourth column when it comes to road accidents- police, ambulance, fire and tow trucks.
I am disoriented and slightly panicked state when I call my insurance company, narrate what happened and asks him what I need to do, the agent tells me to call them once I am taken to the body shop by the tow truck operator. I have no idea which body shop I will be taken to and how the process works so I simply resign myself to fate.
It takes half-an-hour for the cop to finish his paperwork, once done, I get in the tow truck and start talking to this 15-year tow truck veteran who has seen it all. The tow-truck operator towing the other vehicle he tells me has been around 35 years and has seen things that could give most normal people nightmares. My tow truck driver tells me of a time when he attended a crash where he saw the driver mangled but alive and his wife decapitated after the car went under a transport.
He has also seen drivers involved in a minor fender-bender step out of their car and fall to the ground feigning injury. He sees that sort of stuff all the time- those who are at fault (like myself) and those who aren’t invariably end up suing each others’ insurance companies claiming horrendous mental and physical anguish. There are helpful law firms that promise to ensure a ‘fair’ settlement for your pain and suffering, both real and imagined.
I look at him incredulously. Wait a minute, what he was saying is that even though I emerged from what could have had a very different and horrible outcome unscathed, needless to add, I was at fault, I could still potentially profit? Absolutely he tells me, adding that this incident could net me $20K. How? I could sue the other driver’s insurance company for any number of physical and mental ailments. I have no such intentions I think to myself.
I can only imagine what the other driver could potentially claim from my insurance company.
We get to the body shop, the friendly tow-truck operator takes me on a tour around the facility which he says is state-of-the-art. I walk into a room where a smooth-talking body shop rep empathizes with what I’ve been through. They tell me that there isn’t any need to go to my insurance companies approved body shops or car rental companies because they will work with my insurance company adjuster and that there is no risk involved in choosing them over any other suggested by my insurance agent. Note, I am subjected to this smooth sales pitch even before I talk to the insurance agent. The body shop representative was suave and apologetic for meeting under such unfortunate circumstances. He was on my side, insurance companies he infers are the villians who will gouge me at renewal time, perhaps even drop me. He paints himself as the defender of the little guy involved in an unfortunate road accident and then proceeds to explain the paperwork. There is a rental car rep who has already brought a car for me. Wow, these are really proactive guys who seemed to read my mind. I suddenly feel important, with all these people fawning over me. One brings me coffee, another I suspect would bring me wine, women or even break into a song if I so desired.
I get on the phone with the insurance company, narrate all that has happened in the past two hours, give them the name of the body shop and the car rental company, then I am told that both are not on their preferred list and that I could choose to have the car moved to their body shop and have their own car rental get a car to me. Darn, couldn’t the agent I spoke to while I was at the scene of the accident have strongly suggested I take it to the closest preferred body shop and car rental company instead of telling me to proceed to whichever body shop the tow truck operator took me to?
What’s the difference?
Well, if I chose to go with their trusted people, everything would be guaranteed, but if I chose to go with the guys who showed up as the first responders, I was taking a risk. Now I am in bind. Should I tell these nice body shop guys and the tow truck operator that I would be taking my business elsewhere? Hard to tell the tow-truck operator who was there with me minutes after the crash that I opted for another body shop. It just didn’t seem right.
I just wanted to get the hell out of there, get checked out by my doctor and call it a day. A rough day.
My doctor warns that I could experience whiplash and other problems 24-hours later. He was right. I woke up the next morning feeling as though rigor mortis was beginning to set in. My back and neck felt stiff and my upper body ached. Some victims would opt to game the system, visit a lawyer and make plans to scam. I simply pop some pain killers, go to a RMT massage therapist who kneads my knotted back and voila I feel a lot better.
So that is something you could expect if and when you get into an accident.