I recently went through a car accident, an experience that gave me a first-hand taste of low and dirty tricks that people can pull when involved in an accident.
I was driving Eastbound on Kingston Road, a thoroughfare connecting downtown to our suburb, on my way home from work, albeit a bit later than usual. As I approached a hill, I slowed down. I knew from experience that there's usually a cop on the other side with a radar. As I crossed the hill, sure enough, there was a couple of cop cars manning a radar station and pulling people over.
The knowledge of that fact alone was to come in useful later, as I found out.
Around 3 minutes of driving past that hill, I was on the leftmost lane, going at the speed limit. All of a sudden, I see this Cavalier exit from a small side street on the other side of the road, cross the Westbound lanes and cut directly onto the high speed lane of Eastbound Kingston Ave.
The lane I was on.
It happened so fast that I still shudder to think of it. It's an indescribable feeling, as you approach a near death experience and feel powerless to do anything. Your whole life starts to flash in front of your eyes. I remember just pressing the horn until the sound of it filled my ears. I remember stepping as hard as possible on the brakes. And I remember the feeling of utter helplessness as I realized there were cars to my right, and absolutely no place to swerve out of the way.
There was a huge crack! sound, as my car came to a screeching halt. Wondering why the air bags haven't deployed yet, I gingerly exhaled and then looked around.
It seemed at the last minute, the lady in the other car, on hearing my horn blast, had managed to swerve sufficiently so she was on the thin median separating the two directions of traffic, but the side of her car was still in my lane, and that's what I had hit. Or rather, the mirror of my car had hit.
It could have been a serious accident that in the end resulted in only a broken mirror. Had she not managed to swerve out of my way, I would have hit her passenger side head on, most possibly killing the child that was seated there. And more importantly, had the speed and impact caused my car to start swerving, I now would be perpendicular to the oncoming traffic, and people would hit me. Allah had personally saved all of us.
I got out and walked to the other car. She was still in the car! Before I could reach her though, another person got to me.
"Hey!" This Indian guy in an overalls accosted me. "I am the owner of this garage opposite the road - there!" He indicated with an outstretched hand. "You come to me, I will give you good discount." Pushing a visiting card down my hand, he left.
I wasn't seconds away from an accident, and already I have a guy trying to make a buck out of me!
I knocked on her window and told her to come out.
"I need your insurance," I told her, still shaking. "We need to call insurance."
"Yes," she said, then whipped out her cellphone. Lady, why are you taking out your cellphone? Give me your damn policy number.
"My cousin works at a Nissan dealership." She suddenly got off her phone and told me. "He is saying this mirror is maximum 100 bucks to change. He is at the dealership now."
"Ya?" Even though it wasn't my fault, I wanted to avoid the insurance hassle. Then I looked at her sharply.
"It's eight pm." I told her coldly. "All Nissan workshops I know close at 6."
"Oh," she was now flustered. "Look, my cousin has same car and I thought-"
"I want to report it." I told her flatly. "Now give me your insurance details and let's go there."
I was going to call up my agent and find out where the collision reporting center was, but it turned out she knew where the collision reporting center was, and a shortcut to get there! So we took it.
Once we were there, I was to get the second surprise of the night.
"Well," the counter agent taking down my report faced me. The lady had just completed her version while I had waited. "The lady tells me she was waiting on the median lane to enter the high speed lane, when all of sudden you came speeding, swerved into her lane, hit the side of her car."
It took me a second to digest this. For a second, I was almost in awe of how the lady had changed her apologetic story to a lying one.
Then I remembered the cop radar spot on Kingston Road. A smile lit my lips. Taking a moment to gather my thoughts, I began.
"First of all, minutes up the road from the accident spot, there was a police radar in operation. If I was speeding, they would have stopped and ticketed me."
"Second, the median she is saying she WAITED on, it's a thin strip of yellow line, hardly wide enough for a bike, let alone a car. So where was she waiting?"
"Finally, it's an amazing version. I swerved into her, somehow the front of my car magically avoiding her side, and somehow managed to get MY MIRROR to hit her, then swerved out again so this time the back of my car avoided her side, and then stopped some distance away. Very flexible car, my Nissan."
The agent was now laughing. Then he looked at me, "Are you Indian, by any chance?"
"Bangladeshi." I replied.
"O bhai amio Bangladeshi!" The man literally shouted out, and continued in Bengali. "I thought I saw you before, you used to play cricket for this league right? Me too, for this other team."
Of all the places to run into a cricket player. At a collision reporting center.
"This lady I have seen her here before." The agent continued, now looking at her with distaste. "Don't worry, I will look out for you. It's a clear case of side swipe."
He then called a cop who went out with us to look at the damage. One glance, and he knew what happened. After giving me the police report, he turned to the lady and stared to scold her for endangering her child by driving recklessly.
Thankfully my insurance agreed with me, citing me not at fault and taking full charge of fixing my mirror at no cost to me promptly. To this day I still think of how some people tried to pull a fast one on me, and thank Allah for watching over us all.
Moral of the story: Play cricket.
Tags: Accident Insurance