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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So about a week ago I was involved in a fairly minor fender-bender on a local highway (for those familiar with the Buffalo area, the I-290E). I was returning home from work in the afternoon, and lo and behold a guy driving a Ford Taurus decided to merge onto the highway and into my Silverado. I was in the right-hand lane headed for the 990N on-ramp, the other guy was changing lanes in an attempt to merge (hence his fault). Quite honestly I barely felt the impact and couldn't believe the guy smacked into me (how could he fail to observe a large black pickup truck??).

We both pulled over within 1/8 mile of where the accident occurred, I got out and made sure the other guy wasn't injured or anything. All I had was a scrape and some minor dents at the very rear of my pickup, as well as some scraping on the side wall of the rear passenger tire. His Taurus sustained much more damage - his entire driver's side quarter panel was destroyed from the brush with my tire, and his driver's side mirror was torn off. He was apologetic, stated he was trying to get around another car in his lane and simply didn't see me. He didn't have his license on him (forgot it at home), so I was already thinking the worst, that this guy wasn't even insured. Once we both determined there were no injuries, we agreed it was best to leave the highway and pull off at the first exit ramp on the 990N, so I called Amherst PD from the UB North campus. Amherst PD showed up about 10 minutes later. The driver of the Taurus stated he was changing lanes and hit me, and that I was simply driving in my lane. The LEO wrote up an accident info exchange report. When he stopped over to speak with me he informed me he had good news that would put me at ease - the driver of the Taurus had up-to-date insurance coverage and his license was good. I'm thinking all is good at this point - other driver was honest, didn't flee the scene, and the LEO from the Amherst PD had written a report with our statements documented.

After the incident I called my insurance to report the collision, then called the driver-at-fault's insurance to file the claim. Damage bill is about $1500. Come to find out the guy-at-fault has already tried to file with MY insurance (go figure). I called Amherst PD to obtain info about the police report, the clerk said they don't do accident reports unless someone is either injured or a vehicle is towed away. WTF. Why did I bother wasting 45-60 minutes dealing with the Amherst PD only to be told there would be NO accident report filed?? I have been trying to get a hold of the LEO who responded to find out if he took notes or remembers the statements that both of us gave in front of him, where the other driver admitted fault. He'd obviously be a key witness on my behalf, but he hasn't returned my calls to date (over 5 days have passed). I'm sure there were other witnesses to the collision, but I have no idea who they are as no one else stopped after the accident occurred. It was a fender bender so I didn't expect a slew of 911 calls or others to drop what they were doing to attend to a minor collision incident.

Have any of you guys been involved in something similar, and what would you guys do in this situation? I'm thinking of retaining an attorney asap, but I figure I'll wait and see how things go with the other insurance company before lawyer'ing up....
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I may go the small claims route if the at-fault driver's insurance dodges out and denies the claim. Since the at-fault driver's insurance company is liable, I'd sue them, right? No point filing against the driver, chances are he wouldn't even show up. Then recovering the damages could take months if not over a year...
 

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Now that's a good question...I'm not really sure who you would sue.

I'd try to hit the normal channels to start and then worry about who to take to court after those avenues fail. The problem with lawyering up on these types of incidents is that you spend away all your winnings in your defense, so you're no better off than when you started.
 

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Sorry you had to deal with that. Explain to your insurance company, give all the data to them and let them earn their money.
 

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If you file a claim w/your insurance co. your rates will go up because you filed a claim against your collision insurance. They (your insurance) have two weeks to then settle with you, give you a check minus deductable. If you do not involve your insurance co. your rates should not go up as you will have not filed a claim. Report it to HIS insurance company, explain the whole incident to them in detail, like how he was changing lanes. I'm not sure how soon you have to report it to HIS insurance co. but he did so it is on file. Call his ins. co. and ask what is going on, that their client was at fault, you want your truck fixed.
 

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Don't know if this will help your problem or not..My wife was coming home from work and had stopped for a red light when she was hit from behind by a car that was hit by another car, chain reaction..The girl who was driving the car at fault didn't even report the accident to her insurer. My insurance company was going to pay less deductible and then go after her insurer, we said no and did all the phone calls ourselves.So after a week we opened the claim with her insurance company and they finally got off their arses and got the police report that their insure was at fault. Two weeks later we recieved a check from them. I don't think small claims court can help you without a police report or wittnesses, it becomes your word against him and visa versa. It sucks that Amhearst didn't take an offical report, I live in a small town and the locals always take a report.
 

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I would imagine that the other driver should have been ticketed for unsafe lane change, at the very least. My son backed into a Jeep on Saturday and was ticketed for unsafe backing. obviously, hence the accident,
 

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could you put an add in classified section of paper looking for anyone driving that road at that time who might have been a witness?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sorry you had to deal with that. Explain to your insurance company, give all the data to them and let them earn their money.
Yeah, that was my first move after calling the Amherst PD. My Insurance agent said there were two courses of action - file the claim with them and they'd go after the at-fault driver's insurance and possibly recoup the damages (though that would've involved an out-of-pocket deductible that may or may not have been recovered), OR, file with the at-fault driver's insurance directly. Filing with the other guy's insurance seemed to be the best option for a number of reasons mentioned here. As for the other driver being ticketed, at the very least I would've thought he'd be ticketed for not having his license on him. However, I think the LEO needs to directly observe the other driver making an unsafe lane change to actually ticket him for it.
 

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Ask the Amherst PD for the information on the call ticket. You might have to FOIA. Our officers if they don't do accident reports put notes, and misc information in the "call ticket" they are sent on their MDT's, it is then saved in the system using your information and the incident number they are issued at dispatch.
 

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If you want to get a hold of the officer you could also call the PD and ask to speak with the on duty supervisor and explain the situation to him and should be able to help you get in contact with the officer.

Also its my understanding that if the officer did take notes they are required by law to keep those notes for a set period of time. Good luck!
 

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Sorry on a blackberry and didn't read through all this. My advice would be to report it to your insurance carrier and let them handle it. Make sure you let the adjuster know about the police rereport. If you need an attorney, your insurer owes you a defense and has to provide one at no cost to you. If you hire your own attorney, cost could be on your dime. Good luck with all this.
 

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Chris.... I dont know the size of their dept but would says its small... You need to have the officer at the scense give a statement to your insurance co. I would tell them his name and escalate from there. If you need addittional info. PM me...
 

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Chris, in most states you have 24 hours to provide your drivers license. When the officer on the scene took your info I would think he ran it through his computer to see if all was valid, hence the reason no ticket was issued for the license.
 

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File with the insurance info. Give them your story and the police information and officer that responded. They are going to do their own investigation on your story and the other guys story and determine fault which should be the other guys. No need for a lawyer unless the other guy makes **** up or the insurance agency makes an improper decision. part of you insurance is for them to fight it out with the other guys insurance.
 

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as someone already posted, make your insurance company do its job!
Unless they pay out, then your rates won't go up.
that simple.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for all the tips so far! Based on the responses it seems I need to do a couple of things...

* Do more to get a hold of the LEO who responded and heard statements from both myself and the at-fault driver. I've left a couple of messages for him so far and haven't received a call-back. Escalating to his supervisor might be my best bet I guess.

* Allow my insurance company to duke it out with the at-fault driver's insurance. Based on what my agent has stated, the at-fault driver's story contradicts mine, so I already know he's making **** up. This is why I've been so adamant about getting a hold of some sort of official accident report or notes/recollection of the officer who responded from the Amherst PD. Perhaps the at-fault driver found out the same news that I did - Amherst doesn't write up a formal accident report unless there are injuries or someone is towed away. He may figure it's open season on making up whatever BS he can to cover his own a$$.

EnfieldGuy - Amherst is (I believe) the largest suburb in Buffalo (nearly 125k residents based on the 2010 census). Their PD is likely large as well, though I don't know any specific numbers there.

I've read that insurance companies will take the side of their own insured even if a police report or witnesses contradict their story. I guess their plan is that they assume they won't be dragged through court in most cases. On the flip side, even if I end up having to file with my own insurance (which means I'm hit with a deductible), most States do not allow insurance companies to raise rates on someone who is not at-fault in an accident. Doesn't mean however that they can't drop me when it's time to renew... :bang:
 

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Have any of you guys been involved in something similar, and what would you guys do in this situation? I'm thinking of retaining an attorney asap, but I figure I'll wait and see how things go with the other insurance company before lawyer'ing up....
I learned the hard way not to f*** around when it comes to auto accidents, just because of crap like this. I was in a similar accident (100% other guy's fault) a few months back. Here's what I would have done differently in your situation:

1) Insist on a police report and ask the officer at the scene for the report number.
2) If the other guy is 100% at fault, he has no need for your insurance info, so don't give it to him.
3) Your insurance doesn't need to know anything about this. Contact his insurance, not yours.*
4) His insurance company doesn't need to know anything about your insurance, so don't give them info either.

* - this is a two-way street. It is often easier to deal with your own insurance company. However, insurance companies can and will drop you for having too many 100% not-your-fault claims - speaking from experience here. This is why I suggest to not involve your insurance company at all.

Going small claims without a lawyer is not a good idea: another experience of mine showed me that lawyers aren't prohibited from small claims court, and if you show up alone and he shows up with a lawyer, who do you think would win?

Since you've already reported this to your insurance company, I suggest you just let them handle it. The "damage" is already done.

Best of luck to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
OTR - agree, and point #1 is probably the biggest mistake I made. Next time I'm involved in a collision where the other driver is 100% at fault, I'll insist on a police report and won't take "no" for an answer. On the other hand, the danger in not reporting the collision to my insurance is two-fold...

(1) My policy mandates that I report any and all collisions involving property damage to my vehicle or someone else's vehicle, regardless of who's at fault, no questions asked. Now, if someone dented my car in a parking lot, or I dented someone else's vehicle, and a $50 Dent Wizard job can fix the damage, I'd avoid the insurance route like the plague and handle it off the books for obvious reasons. However, almost any vehicle damage runs $1000 these days.

(2) If the other guy (even if he's 100% at fault) decides to claim through MY insurance, I get busted on (1). It may provide my own insurance company with a "cop-out" reason to deny any claim related to that collision, or an excuse to hike my rates or flat out drop my coverage.

If the police are involved in the matter, they handle the exchange of information (insurance providers, etc.) by default.

I did receive a piece of encouraging news today. I called the Amherst PD this afternoon and spoke with a supervisor in the records dept. They do have a "supplemental" police report stating that the other driver merged into a lane that I was "occupying", and that both people involved in the collision agreed on that statement. So, that should be evidence in my favor and help with my claim against the other guy's insurance company.
 
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