Posts Tagged ‘accident’

Summer is upon us and I with it comes increased bicycle and pedestrian traffic, so I would like to take a moment to talk about safety for people who will be out on the roads and sidewalks again. Obviously, I want to stress to drivers that it is vital to be more alert, because there are more small children out now, since the weather is warmer, and especially when school lets out for the summer vacation. Children don’t always pay attention when they run across the street or are riding their bikes.

That said, I want to make a couple of points that many parents don’t want to hear. When a child runs across the street and is not at the crosswalk or other corner, and they get hit by a car, it is not the fault of the driver of the car. It used to be that if you hit a pedestrian, it was automatically your fault, but more and more, if not all states have now turned from that thought and have begun to look at who should and shouldn’t have been there. Believe me, the driver of the vehicle that hits a pedestrian or child on a bicycle, will forever wish they hadn’t, but that doesn’t always make it their fault. The only time the driver is at fault is if that pedestrian is in a cross walk, or on the sidewalk, of course. Parents need to talk to their children about watching for cars, because it can be very hard to stop a car in time to miss a child, especially if there is no warning that the child is going to run out into the street.

Another common accident scenario occurs when bicyclists believe that traffic laws don’t apply to them. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people, kids and adults alike, in fact probably more adults than kids, who approach a stop sign or light, look both ways, and go straight through the intersection. That is illegal, and more importantly, it is dangerous. Several times I have seen people almost get hit, because they miscalculated the distance and the car was coming faster than they thought. Is it really worth your life to cross the street without stopping, just so you don’t have to put your foot down and then restart? Really??

Yes, drivers need to watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists all the time and even more in the summer, but pedestrians and bicyclists have a responsibility too. If you break the law and get hit by a car, no matter how bad the driver feels, it will not be their fault. It will be yours, and along with the injuries, you might just get a ticket too.

Accidents can happen to anyone, but there are certain practices that will make it more likely that you will be in an accident. And some of these practices are even illegal now.

The big item in the news right now is texting while driving. With so many people texting now, this problem has reached the level of epidemic. The accidents caused by texting are often very serious, because the person texting doesn’t even slow down. They just aren’t looking for the people that might be around them. For the safety of those around you and for yourself, this habit has got to stop.

While texting is an extreme problem, any form of inattention is extremely dangerous. I understand that sometimes things go on that we have to handle, but texting is never one of them. Talking on the phone, while not illegal in all states, must be done responsibily. It is always best to use a headset or hands free system, if at all possible. And keep conversations short. Any kind of talking can be distracting, so even a passenger, can cause a problem. Just make sure that your first priority is the road and control of the car.

Something many people don’t think about is eating and drinking (obviously, I’m not talking about alcohol which is never acceptable) while driving. Again, these are not illegal, provided alcohol is not involved, but they can definitely cause inattention, and should be limited as much as possible.

No one sets out specifically to cause an accident by not paying attention, but the unfortunate reality is that it happens more often than any of us wants to think. When you get behind the wheel, please be responsible and don’t do the things that are illegal and bring inattention, and limit even those that aren’t illegal. The life you save might be your own, or someone you love, and even if it isn’t, it is very hard to recover from killing someone over simple inattention.

When you are looking for a job, the last thing most people are thinking about is their car insurance…unless it is to wonder how they are going to pay it without a job. One of the newer types of jobs that have come into being in the last few decades, is food delivery. From pizza to Chinese, people are ordering out when they do not feel like going somewhere to eat. With that, came the need for a new type of job…the delivery driver.

It seems like a sweet deal. I mean you get to drive around all day, deliver a few pizzas, get paid, and get tips. Perfect right? Well, maybe…if it is done right, but the problem is that most often it isn’t, and people don’t find out until it is too late. The problem is that when someone is hired to deliver pizza, they are almost always told that all they need to provide is proof of liability insurance with their personal auto insurance carrier. Of course, the next thing you are told that in the event of an accident, call them firstbefore you call the police!! Hmmm, what do you suppose that is all about? Well, I’ll tell you.

Your personal auto policy does not cover delivery!! The claim can very easily be denied. The reason your new boss wants you to call them first is so they can get the evidence out and off of your car…hopefully before police arrive. You see delivery…of any sort, is a business use of your vehicle, and requires commercial insurance. To do pizza delivery correctly, your boss should have a delivery car…that he/she owns and insures commercially, for you to drive, or at the very lease, they should pay your additional expenses to make sure you are covered correctly. But this is almost never the case, leaving you in the position of taking care of yourself.

I am not telling you not to take a job as a delivery driver. What I am telling you is to talk to your agent about whether or not your current policy will cover those activities. You might find out that the cost to do this correctly is not so bad, and more importantly, you might save yourself a lawsuit down the road. Talk to your agent today if you are currently making deliveries…it can make a monumental difference in your life in the future.

When an accident occurs, emotions get very raw. People are worried that they are going to get taken for a ride. There are many misconceptions about how claims are paid, because people don’t understand the process or the laws that come into play when a claim occurs.

Every adjuster would like to make everybody happy. Imagine how much easier their job would be. They really don’t enjoy telling people that they won’t get what they expected, but there are laws that govern insurance companies, and how they handle claims. The insurance company is only required to put you back in the same financial position you were in before the loss. Now many people think that means that you should get a car of the same year, make and model as before, but that isn’t so. In the amount of time you have owned your car, it has depreciated in value, and a similar car that has maybe less rust or is in otherwise mint condition may have a greater value than your daily driver. Two cars of the same year, make, and model can be valued much differently depending on mileage, rust, and prior damages.

Another factor that many people would like to have enter into the value of a vehicle that simply can’t is sentimental value. The memories you have had with your vehicle, like trips taken in it or who gave it to you, have no monetary value, unfortunately. There simply is no way to place a monetary value on them, so the vehicle must be valued according to mileage, care and condition. Here again, the adjuster can fully understand these things, and would love to be able to compensate you for them, but really, no amount of money will compensate you fully if you think about it. Feelings can’t be valued with money.

Placing the claimant back in the same financial position they were in before isn’t an inflexible process, however. If you can show that your vehicle should be worth more based on improvements you have made, or if you have an appraisal that shows that your vehicle has a set value, then you would have a right to a higher compensation that another vehicle of a similar year. You just need to talk to the adjuster and make your argument.

Remember too, that your agent is your advocate when talking to the company. If you feel that you are being treated unfairly, talk to your agent. They are there to help you through this process.

As you are driving to work one day, right there in front of you two cars collide. It all happened in a flash, but you saw it all. The Dodge pickup went straight through the intersection, without looking and plowed into the little Honda that was already there. Traffic comes to a stop, and you grit your teeth thinking about how late you are going to be. Then you hear the driver of the pickup yelling at the driver of the Honda about not giving him the right of way. The driver of the Honda says, “No, it was your fault.”

If you are a good person, you will delay that rush to work just a little longer, because without your statement to the officer who is on the way, the innocent party in this accident could very easily end up paying the price for this accident. People are doing their very best to get out of there, because no one really wants to get involved. Will you be that one person who will be there for that innocent driver today?

Every day innocent drivers in accidents get railroaded by the at fault driver who hit them, in part because the witnesses, if any, often don’t want to come forward, because it might inconvenience them, make them late for work, or make enemies for them. No, you are not required to come forward, but if you were that driver who needed a witness, you would want others to do that for you.

When you get behind the wheel of a car, you have many duties, but the biggest one is to be responsible and alert. There is so much activity on the road and around the road, and with so many people involved, if just one is not being responsible and alert, there is bound to be trouble. An agent I once worked with said, “It takes two people not paying attention, to make an accident.” And she was right, because if just one person was paying attention, the accident might have avoided. And when the accident does occur, another disaster can be avoided if the drivers around the accident are paying attention…the disaster that occurs when the wrong person ends up being faulted because no witness stepped up, or the witnesses weren’t paying close enough attention. When we get behind the wheel of a car we have the potential to change lives. Please…change them for the better, not the worse.

After you have had a car accident, there are so many things going through your mind…if you can think at all. Many people think that the first thing to do after calling the police is get the cars out of the street…clear the street for traffic. But in many cases, that is the worst thing you can do. By moving the vehicles, you alter the evidence, and if the driver who is at fault decides not to be honest about how things happened, there is often no proof to dispute that driver’s story.

Whenever possible, do not move the cars until officers arrive. That is your best chance of having a fair investigation of your accident. I wish I could say that people are always honest about what happened in an accident, and many are, but unfortunately many are not. Once the cars are moved they feel free to create the accident scenario to shed the best light on themselves. If the other driver is pressuring you to move the vehicles, be very leery, and do whatever you can to protect the scene.

When you can’t leave the scene the way it is, and even if you can, your best defense is to take pictures of the scene. Carry a disposable camera in your car, or use your cell phone. It is much easier to tell what happened if you have pictures. Most often a police officer or adjuster can tell what happened from the pictures. The position of the cars…who is across the line…who was further into the intersection…who had the stop sign. All these things can be seen in a picture.

Another way to make sure the best information gets to the police officer is to check the area for witnesses. While witnesses don’t always have a perfect recall of an accident, and can even see things totally different from reality sometimes, they are still a good source of information about the accident. If witnesses can’t stay, try to get a business card or name and phone number. While it is best to have a witness give a statement to the police officer, they can give their statement to the claims adjuster.

An accident usually ruins your day, but when you take the right steps after the accident, it doesn’t have to turn into a horrible nightmare. Protect yourself the best you can after an accident…prepare before it happens. Have a plan in the event of an accident.

With summer almost upon us, I would like to take a moment to talk about boating safety. Every year it would seem there is at least one bad boating accident, in which someone is killed, or seriously hurt. Most of these accidents involve alcohol and excessive speed. People don’t mean to do anything wrong, and since they and people they care about are in the boat, they would most certainly do their best to keep everyone safe.

The problem with mixing alcohol and boating is pretty much the same as drinking and driving, but people don’t seem to think the same laws apply. In a lot of ways, it is more dangerous to drink and boat, than drinking and driving, because there are no set roads, so you end up with people coming from all directions and when alcohol is involved, good judgement leaves. People think they are further away from others than they are, or from the rocks. They think they have the boat under control and that they can handle the speed. But the reality is often tragically different than they thought. Every year there are drownings at the lake, not all due to boating, of course, but some are. I know of deaths caused from collisions with other boats or jet skiers, as well as boats hitting the canyon walls.

I can’t stress enough how much that one moment of poor judgement can change your entire life. If you are responsible for the death of another person, it changes you. It haunts you for the rest of your life. And there is no going back and changing it. The time to be a responsible boater, is before you get into the boat. Just as with designated drivers on the roads, you need to have a designated driver on a boat, and no one else should drive the boat. Please make this a hard and fast rule when you go out on the water this year. Boat safely and live.

I read in the paper recently where a 15 passenger van rolled on I-80 near Rawlins, Wyoming. In the accident, one 13 year old boy was partially ejected and the van landed on top of him, killing him instantly. The driver of the van was the only one of 11 people wearing a seat belt, and was cited for failure to have the children in the van belted. A tragic story, to say the least.

Now believe me, I have heard every possible excuse for not wearing a seat belt, and I understand that there are many accidents in which a person is killed with their seat belt on. But in a rollover situation especially, there is a far greater chance of survival if you are wearing your seat belt. And, one of the main reasons for death in a rollover is being ejected from the vehicle. It is impossible for the vehicle to land on you when you are still in it. Had this boy not been ejected, he would almost certainly still be alive. If only he would have had his seat belt on. He was the only one who was partially ejected, even though the only person who was belted was the driver. The rest of the passengers could have lost their lives too, but they did stay in the vehicle, while he didn’t. There are also countless other stories of survival in a car accident due to the seat belt habit, but we continue to fight against it, and refuse to obey the laws requiring it.

This driver was cited for not having the children seat belted, but that really is low on the list of things that will follow her for the rest of her life whenever she thinks about this accident. How do you get over killing someone because you didn’t take control of and responsibility for the people in your charge when you are the driver of a vehicle? Well…you just don’t. That person’s face will forever be in your memory, and if you saw their body after the accident, the nightmares will be with you for a long time if not the rest of your life. It is such a small thing to put on your seat belt and require the people with you to do so too. Please, if you won’t do it for yourself, do it for those who love you and for those in your charge. Wear your seat belt and don’t move the vehicle until everyone in your car has theirs on too.