Valuable Lessons From A Car Accident In Michigan
Over the weekend I was in a car accident in Three Rivers, Michigan. My siblings and I were on our way to South Bend to watch Notre Dame play the University of Southern California. Our car was stopped in traffic in a construction zone during a heavy downpour when the driver of a Ford Pickup slammed into the back of us at approximately 15-20 miles per hour. I was sitting in the back seat on the driver’s side. Despite being in the direct zone of impact, I was fortunate to walk away uninjured, as were my siblings.
I wanted to share this experience to illustrate some firsthand lessons on the importance of following the right steps after an accident. In the heat of the moment it is easy to forget or take shortcuts to preserve time. The hard rain led me, an accident professional, to make some mistakes that I hope my clients do not repeat.
After the impact, the driver of the vehicle popped out of his car to talk to us while we were still on the road. We motioned him to follow us to a parking lot. If possible, it is best to discuss the accident in a safe location that does not impact the flow of traffic.
The driver initially told us that his “brakes cut out.” He seemed friendly enough and at first, so we took him at his word. We asked him to give us his insurance information and driver’s license. As we stood in the pouring rain he went back to his truck and began searching around for several minutes before coming back.
When he returned he said that he didn’t have his license or wallet on him. He then handed us an expired insurance card that was issued in only his wife’s name. I asked that he give the card to my sister. She was sitting inside the car. I wanted her to take a picture of it. The hard rain made me nervous the print on the card would smear otherwise.
As he leaned in to give her the card, his face came close to mine, and I noticed the unmistakable smell of beer emanating from his breath. At this point we all then noticed that his speech was slurred. It dawned on us that perhaps this guy wasn’t as trustworthy as he initially seemed.
After some hesitation, we decided to call the police to have a report made. The driver was agreeable to this and told us that he would wait. I asked him several times about this, knowing that he was probably risking a DUI by staying, and he agreed each time. All parties then got back in their cars to get out of the heavy rain.
A few minutes later the driver confirmed my suspicion. He drove away!
When the police arrived, we told them we were rear ended by a driver who was likely intoxicated. Even though all four of us had talked to him, none of us were able to describe him in any detail. They pulled up an old mugshot of the driver for us to identify him with. He had a beard on in this photo, something he didn’t have on the day of the accident, which resulted in two of us confidently identifying him and two of us unsure. They gave us a copy of the accident referral card and said that they were going to arrest him for leaving the scene of an accident.
Some important tips:
Take photos of both the property damage and the driver! This may be important later. With all the distractions of today’s society, it is more important than ever to not have to rely on your memory. A photo is worth a thousand words.
Always get the insurance information and driver’s license from the other driver!
Always call the police!
Do not trust the other driver! At the end of the day it is your property and bodily injury damage that must be taken care of. Get the proper documentation you need for later. Do not take people at their word.