Friday, October 5, 2012

I Am Car-less.

Are you here expecting my Wineglass Marathon recap? Pardon the interruption but I have more pressing ridiculousness to brain dump on the blog. Like how I don't have a car anymore.

Oh, and how I am really lucky I am not hurt or dead.

Yesterday was my first day back at work from our little vacation/romp around the northeast. I left at my usual time, around 6:15pm. Got on the 5 freeway, northbound. Per usual. Traffic was moving well, however, I know that this freeway is fairly unpredictable from 4-7pm, so, I am always on guard. I had maybe gotten 8 miles from work? I was driving in the fast lane (apparently it is called the "number 1" lane) behind someone who works at my company - I know this because she has an interesting vanity plate that I see in the parking lot nearly every day. No idea who she is. I would guess traffic was moving around 70 mph, give or take 5. We crested the hill before the Via de la Valle exit and I see my lane is coming to a stop ahead.

I hit my brakes pretty hard, but nothing extreme. It was not a majorly difficult to come to a stop. But at that point, I was a sitting duck. I looked in my rearview, a white van was coming up fast. Moves into the carpool lane to avoid us. Next, a silver van of some sort was coming up quickly. Unfortunately, this person, either panicked, wasn't paying attention, or was driving way too fast to stop in time. Or all of the above.

It was like slow motion. You know? Even though it probably happened over the span of like 5 seconds. I was sitting there with my hands on the wheel, clutch pedal engaged, foot on the brake, bracing to get wacked hard. Watching this car come at me from my rearview. I could not move, seeing as I was at a complete stop. And the other lanes were moving, so, I had no options.

Let me just say I was damn lucky yesterday. She (I found out it was a "she" later, from the police officer) managed to swerve enough to hit rear-side of my car, rather than getting completely rear-ended. Side airbags deployed, and my seat side air bag deployed, too. It was surreal. I watched the car continue down the carpool lane and though "The aren't going to stop." She was so far up head when she finally did, I could barely make out what the vehicle looked like. All I could think of was "Great, so now I also have a hit and run situation." Oh, and it was CSA pick up day, so, naturally, I was concerned about my $26 box of organic vegetables sitting in the trunk. I swear, the shit that goes through your mind in these situations.

As I'm sitting there in WTF mode, this lady, who had the best of intentions, tries to convince me through my open passenger side window that I should hop in her car and get out of there. Even in my very shaken state, this seemed like a dumb idea. I told her I was going to call 911. And can you believe I had people honking at me? I tried to move the car - it started, but when I pressed the gas it didn't move. Yet, people are assholes and honk. Awesome, right?

Anyway.

The CHP? They came in a New York Minute. However, I believe this is because they were already enroute to another accident up ahead at the exit. I think this is also why my lane was stopped. CHP though? They are on point. One of the cruisers backed up in the carpool lane, another came up shortly after. Meanwhile, fire engines had zoomed by me for the other accident. Here I am, peeking around my side airbags (the smell when they deploy? Gross), the officer comes up, asks if I'm alright (I tell him that I think so), and he takes my license and insurance. He has the other person's as well.

They then have me attempt to drag my car over to the left. I start it and press more aggressively on the gas, it actually hobbles over. A sit there a few more minutes, texting my husband about my situation. Few minutes pass, the officer comes up and asks me to try to move my car all the way over across lanes. They will left the back if they have to. I start it, turn hard, and press the gas hard. As I'm slowly dragging my poor car over, I see that all traffic on the 5 is stopped in a traffic break. This is all happening over like 5-10 minutes, that's how fast these guys work. I drag my car over to the right shoulder, and traffic starts going again, and the tow truck is already there.

Did I mention I am super impressed with the CHP? Holy crap. Tax dollars in action right there.

Finally, I crawl out of the passenger side and look at my car; while it wasn't as bad as I though it would be - probably because the Mazda3 is a very solid car, thank God I wasn't in some tiny-ass tinfoil economy car - it didn't look good. The officer says airbags are at like $2K to repair. The doors are completely done/buckled. He says it looks like my rear axle is broken based on the way the tire is dented in (makes sense because even with a complete flat, it wouldn't take that much gas pedal to move across 4 lanes).

Oh, and also? I paid off the car about 3 months ago. So there's that. It had only 29K miles on it. 2011, still under warranty. Now, I don't want to sound whiny, because I am freaking relieved that I didn't die or get seriously hurt, but this kind of sucks. The trade in value is like $13.5K. I can't get the same car, used, for that amount of money.

And then I got to ride in the front seat of a cruiser. That was pretty cool. He dropped me off at a local coffee shop to wait for my husband to come get my sorry ass, 25 miles from home. During the 5 minute ride off the freeway, he said that apparently another unit responding to the original crash, saw the whole thing happen. And they also were concerned the other person was not going to stop and it would be a hit and run (I think that's why they went to her car first rather than me). I think that was highly possible, except she probably figured out there were a bunch of CHP everywhere, and that would be a pretty dumb idea.

I have no idea what happens next. I've filed my claim. I have two reps that I can call. But I have no clue how long this kind of stuff takes. Do I bug them about it? It's clearly not my fault - but I am hoping that I don't have to wait for the two insurance companies to duke it out. And I really hope they don't try to fix my car. Anyone have experience dealing with this crap? In my 17 years of driving, I have never been in an accident. I suppose it was bound to happen.

13 comments:

  1. Holy shitballs.

    I'm glad you're okay!! I know jack about insurance or claims, but hopefully everything goes smoothly for you.

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  2. Glad you are ok. Car accidents are such a pain in the ass :(

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  3. I'm a recently new reader of your blog (I'm a twenty-something married runner). So sorry about your accident, that sucks! I was rear-ended almost a year ago and it wasn't fun. I still haven't received a settlement-offer for the personal injury portion of my claim. But, it only took about 1 week for them to determine my car was a total loss and to make an offer.
    I live in Washington, so I'm not certain if anything would differ in CA, but two big things right off:
    1. Since you're not at fault, the other party's (the girl who hit you) insurance should pay for you to have a rental car. I think my rental was covered until my car was repaired and drivable, or 3 days after I got my settlement offer for the totaled car (if they decide not to repair it).
    2. If the car is totaled, the insurance will make you an offer. This is a "Fair Market Value" of the car, not the trade-in value. Do your research and see what you think it was worth - what do cars sell for on craigslist or dealers in your area? What is the Blue Book Value? Etc. You don't have to take the first offer they give you but you will need something to substantiate the value you want.

    Ask lots of questions and don't sign over the title to the car and settle unless you're sure you feel good about it.
    Feel free to email me if you have any questions or need to vent :)
    alexlovesjess (at) hotmail (dot) com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for such awesome advice! I need to research what it's worth. KBB private party is like 14 and change. But retail is like 15K. I need to research craigslist. I know they will ding me for a dent on the passenger side. Possible whatever unrelated scratches were there that they deem are not related. I didn't realize there was negotiation involved!

      Yeah, the rental car situation - I am guessing they are assessing fault at this point, thus why I am not authorized to get a rental. They have already contacted the tow lot to pick it up, so, I would hope this would move quickly.

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  4. Oh heavens I'm glad you're alright. What a pain in the ass, though. Hopefully it gets straightened out fairly and quickly. Hugs

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  5. Holy shitballs! So glad you are alright. That SUCKS that you just paid it off too. That lady is an asshole. If it makes you feel any better, I had a friend who had rolled over their previous loan when they bought their new car that was totaled within a year. So, it can be worse. She was car-less for almost two months but it was mostly because of that issue. If the driver admits fault then it should move quickly. I have been rear ended and side swiped and both times the lengthy part was waiting on the car to be fixed, not the insurance part. With the car rental thing - I was told that the driver's insurance has to have "rental car coverage" and they max it at so many days (like 30). Otherwise you have to go through your insurance for rental or pay out of pocket and small claims it (again, this is what I was told, not experienced).
    Either way, this is just a pain in the ass for you! I'm sorry. Drink lots of wine.

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    1. To add to that - if you do need to get a rental car, I think you can get one at the "insurance rate" which is much cheaper than a typical rental car rate, so hopefully that'll help too.
      Good luck!

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  6. So scary....glad you are ok. I was in a car accident about 3 years ago and had also just paid my car off. Boo.

    Again, glad you were not seriously hurt!

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  7. Awww frack. So so sorry!! Freaking distracted SoCal drivers. Everyone knows the 5 is stop and go in the afternoon. This just toally blows. So glad you are ok.

    So you know I work for an insurance giant. Let me know if you need help. Ignore KBB- it doesn't consider all of the options on your car. Your insurance should give you a Mitchell or Autosource value. Look at comps in our area too and see what they are going for. No offer is final- all things are negotiable :) I should be an attorney. Anyway, if it's a total (and it sounds like it could be) you should see a good settlement since you had such low mileage. Argghhhhh. I would have worried about my veggies too. Oh and your Ragnar sticker.

    If you need a ride to work lemme know :)

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  8. Yikes! You probably already have it squared away, but last time I was in an accident, my insurance paid out before they ever decided whose fault it was. We had full coverage, so I'm not sure if that's what made it easier. They should also factor in your low mileage into the vehicle payout. They asked us about scratches on the car's interior with ours, basically meaning, they were taking it all into account when they decided our payout. Also, I would definitely call them and bother them if you aren't hearing back fast enough. You shouldn't have to be without your payout for long. The hardest part for us was quickly finding a new (used) car.

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  9. so, soo sorry my friend! happy that you're ok!! hopefully, with the advice you're receiving you'll be able to settle matters soon.

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  10. I was involved in a major car accident many years ago. I was about your age and was broad-sided by a big passenger van while driving a little compact car. The accident occurred in December of 1991 and the settlement was finally reached in February of 1994 and I finally got the money from the other party in September of 1996.

    The first question that jumps to my mind is: Did you go to the doctor and get x-rays and all that 'checked-out' jazz?

    If not, DO IT NOW!

    You never know. I thought I was okay. I had jumped out of my crushed vehicle, high on adrenaline, in time to get a physical description of the other driver and his vehicle and the license plate number before he drove away. Yup. Hit n run. I followed the advice I was given at the scene and ambulanced to the nearest hospital even though I felt FINE. Turns out I had major lumbar damage...herniated discs that didn't show up right away... but because I had been checked out and other stuff was visible, it was deemed a result of the accident (fortunately, because it WAS). Anyway...the rehab and treatment was pricey and long and the injury ended my rowing at its height (major suck) and getting some money to help pay for all the bullshit was sort of nice.

    I am so glad you are alive. I am so glad you are feeling okay. I really hope it all works out smoothly and quickly. Thinking of you!

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