I Got Sideswiped On The Highway: How To Handle Car Accidents

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On my way home from work, I was driving in the left lane of a 2-lane highway moving on a curve to the right (I was the outside car). Another car came from behind me in the right lane and as he passed me, crossed over the lane line and swiped my car.

It was very surprising and felt a lot of contact on the passenger side of the car. I swerved to the left, got close to t he median, but avoided it. I honked and then followed him to the nearest turn-off.

We got out of our cars and checked out the damage to our cars. For how much contact we had, the damage was actually pretty minimal. It was mostly paint transfer (his paint on my car) and two light dents. I expected it to be much worse, and his car actually had a bigger dent than mine did.

Exchange Insurance Information And Take Pictures Of The Accident

We exchanged our insurance information, took pictures, and went on our way. Neither of us admitted fault, but since the damage wasn’t so bad, I assumed it would be easiest not to go through our car insurance companies. I have a $1,000 deductible, and I don’t care enough about the damage to pay the first $1,000 in fixes.

We emailed back and forth a few times, until he said that his damages would take $1,600 to fix and that, “Unfortunately, since you were at fault…” I stopped reading there and called my insurance. I was most definitely not at fault and told him that. I was not interested in playing games, and since the damage to my car wasn’t bad, I figured I was doing him a favor by not going to our insurance companies immediately.

I reported what happened to my insurance company and gave a recorded statement of what happened. They got in touch with his insurance, and at that point, it was out of our hands. Our insurance companies would decide who was at fault and whose insurance would pay for damages on the cars.

Who Pays For Repairs And What Happens To Insurance Rates

There were a few ways this could have turned out:

  • Our insurance companies agree that he was fault and his insurance company would pay for our damages. I would not have to pay my deductible and my rates would not increase since I would be 100% not at fault.
  • Our insurance companies agree that I was at fault and my insurance company would pay for his damages. To get my car fixed, I would have to pay deductible and my rates would increase since I would be 100% at fault.
  • Our insurance companies could not agree based on the evidence that either one of us was at fault. We would each have to pay our deductibles to get our respective cars fixed. My insurance rates would not increase since I would not be found at fault.

Based on my statement to my insurance company, I figured there was no way that they would find me at fault. And since the damages weren’t so bad and I didn’t care to get them fixed, it wouldn’t cost me anything.

Realistically, my worst-case scenario was option number 3. And I didn’t expect options number 1 to happen because he was obviously going to give his insurance company a story about how I was at fault.

I have no doubt that the other driver was at fault. He crossed the line and since he was behind me, had I crossed into his lane, he would have hit the back of my car. I don’t see how a slower car on the outside can sideswipe a faster car on a bend to the right, I would expect the damage to be in a different place.

The Decision From Our Insurance Companies

Our insurance companies only took 2 days to make a decision. As expected, my insurance company found me 100% not at fault. As a result, my insurance rates wouldn’t rise. Also as expected, his insurance company found him 100% not at fault and would not be paying for my repairs.

I am responsible for the first $1,000 in repairs, after which point, my insurance would pay for the rest of the damages. As stated earlier, the damages are minimal and I have no interest in paying a few hundred dollars to get our some small dents in the passenger side of the car.

In all, this was all just a bit stressful and it stinks that someone can come into my lane and do damage to my car and leave me paying for damages to my car. But, all in all, this was not a big accident, damage was minimal, and nobody got hurt. I think that for an accident, this was a best case scenario and I’m glad I can put it behind me.

Readers, have you ever got into an accident? Is the stress of having to deal with insurance worse than the damage itself?

16 Responses to I Got Sideswiped On The Highway: How To Handle Car Accidents

  1. Sorry to hear about the accident and the situation that was involved. Why didn’t you call the police? They usually determine the fault and the insurance goes off of that. Yes, it would have taken a little more time, but you wouldn’t have had to pay anything. It would have been cut and dry.

    • @Grayson @ Debt Roundup, I don’t see how they could determine fault if I say he crossed over the line and he says I crossed over the line. It was on a stretch of highway where you can’t really go back (2 lanes, no shoulder) and there were no witnesses who pulled over.

  2. Michelle says:

    I got into an accident a couple of years ago with a COMPLETE idiot. He claimed I hit him (even the damage was to the back of my car) and the police didn’t believe me at first. But his story made no sense and eventually a cop realized that his license plate was imprinted on the back of my car so it was automatically his fault!

  3. Taking pictures is really important. Some guy hit my mom last year and he tried to tell the insurance company that it wasn’t him. Pretty dumb since she had his insurance information and also pictures of both of the cars.

    • @Sean @ OneSmartDollar, ha, maybe he was trying to say that someone else was driving his car (like with a red light ticket)? Not a smart move, it sucks to be at fault, but sometimes you have to own up to it.

  4. Sorry to hear about the accident, but glad you’re ok. I got into one in high school, but I was completely at fault. My mother-in-law, though, has been in 3 over the last 3-4 years with 2 of them being by people who just drove off. She become well versed in dealing with insurance companies. ;)

  5. Jake @ Common Cents Wealth says:

    Wow, that’s unfortunate. At least everyone is okay. I’ve been in only 1 car accident with another car and it was when they rear-ended me, so there wasn’t much question as to who was at fault. Even when you’re not at fault car crashes are annoying. It just ends up being a pain to file everything and then get the car fixed. Luckily, it wasn’t so bad for you this time.

  6. Pauline says:

    Scary! but glad you are ok. My grandfather fell asleep driving and did that to a truck, thankfully he woke up immediately and drove to a stop.

  7. I hate that there is so much “he said, she said” with fault on accidents. I too have a higher deductible of $1,000. I haven’t been in any accidents but I work very hard to avoid them, including yelling at car “don’t you hit me, don’t you even.” I am glad it worked out in your favor.

  8. Yuck, sorry about the accident! At least you didn’t pay for it all!

  9. Sucks that he got away with it. I would have called the cops and gotten a police report done. At least then there would be evidence, but of course that is me talking what I would do vs it actually happening to me. Glad no one was hurt and no major damage.

  10. Yuen Tuck says:

    Sorry to hear about the accident – great advice though.

    This is one of those events that varies so much from country to country. Short stop advice for travellers: if you have an accident in your rental car whilst overseas, just call the local police.

  11. Emily @ evolvingPF says:

    That really stinks that the other guy didn’t own up to the accident being his fault! Glad no one was hurt, though.

    I’ve been in 3 small accidents, and in each case the fault was very clear (1 mine, 2 others). I would be really mad if the at-fault person didn’t take responsibility because I value honesty VERY highly.

  12. Jimmy says:

    I got hit by someone last year and they drove off. I had to claim on my insurance and now even though it wasn’t my fault, the premiums are sky high.

  13. David says:

    I came to LA to visit some friends and someone hit my car. I exchanged insurance information and both of us were not at fault. The rental car only had minimal scratches and when they did the inspection, they did not see enough damage to hold me liable even though I didn’t pay for insurance.

  14. Erastus says:

    Am glad no one was hurt.
    It happened i was travelling in a public vehicle and the driver was drunk. He hit another vehicle from behind then claimed he is not responsible. Never driver while under alcohol influence.