Things No One Tells You After You Get in a Car Accident

January 2017 went out w/ a bang; a head-on collision if you want to get nit-picky. I was driving home from work on January 31st w/ conditions I’ve driven in hundreds, probably thousands, of times (growing up in what is consistently ranked one of the snowiest cities in the country, I’m familiar w/ driving in wintry conditions, thankyouverymuch). It was overcast and icy out, with a light snow that had been falling for a few hours, but nothing I was really concerned with. Taking a bend on the back roads I drive home from work every day, my car hit some ice, my steering wheel locked –literally, I couldn’t turn it AT ALL –and I was headed directly into a pick-up w/ a yellow plow attached. I thought I was going to die.

I don’t remember the actual collision; I think I’ve blocked out the trauma. I remember heading towards the truck thinking, “I can’t stop, we’re going to crash, OMG OMG” and then being in the median on the right side of the road. The driver of the truck was incredibly kind, making sure I was okay, comforting me in my ensuing panic attack, taking the lead on calling the police. No longer than five minutes passed w/ us trading information than another car came around the bend, saw our accident and tried to turn around, only to be slammed into by another car whizzing around the turn. Standing feet away from this accident brought a fresh round of tears. I don’t know how Brent and my sister understood anything I said when I called to fill them in; the whole aftermath is mostly a blur.

Now that I’ve had time to process everything and tie up (what I hope are) all the loose ends, I needed to write about it to put it the rest and get some information out there. All you’re told about a car accident is to get the other person’s insurance information, and maybe that’s fine for a fender bender where you’re both on your way moments later. But an accident like this requires a lot more hoops to jump through; none of which I was prepared for.

- Make sure you take all the items from your car you’ll need immediately. I grabbed my house keys and work bag, but forgot all about my E-Z pass, gym bag and snow brush, which would have been nice. Also forgotten? The garage door opener #firstworldproblems 

- Make sure you know exactly where your car is being towed. The name of a nearby mechanic was thrown around, but this was one of like 3 small towns I drive through on my commute and I’m not really familiar w/ the area. It wasn’t a problem until State Farm called me to ask me where my car was. Excuse me? State Farm had told me when I filed the claim that they would take it to a salvage yard to inspect the condition of the car. They didn’t do this, it ended up staying at the shop where it was towed, but when I thought my car was MIA and I still had a bunch of important shit in there (see the point above) I might have lost my cool w/ a State Farm agent for a few. 

- You have to file an official police report. The police station is not as fun as it looks on TV. 

- The DMV (RMV in this case) needs all the info – and possibly the plates. You have to mail a copy of the police report to the DMV w/in a week of the accident and unless you’re transferring the license plates to your new car, you’ll have to return those, too. 

- You might want to go to the hospital, even if you’re not hurting at the moment. Honestly, you’re going to be so shaken up and pumping w/ adrenaline that you’ll probably feel physically fine. I waved off the EMT and said I didn’t need to go to the hospital; and on the drive home w/ my sister, while recounting all the awful details, my wrist started bothering me. Since I don’t remember the exact details from the crash, I’m guessing I put my arms up to shield myself and my left wrist got the brunt of the airbag force. I went to an urgent care center the next day and they took some x-rays and put me in a brace. They couldn’t determine if it was a fracture or not from the x-rays and wanted me to see someone in orthopedics (a bone specialist?). This leads me to my next point:

- If you forgo the hospital immediately, but need to be treated later, make sure you file it as a motor vehicle accident (MVA) b/c your regular insurance probably won’t cover it. It was annoying b/c I initially tried to go through my health insurance so there was a bit of backtracking, but my policy under State Farm included some personal injury protection coverage and they’ve been pretty good about that.

- You might have ensuing panic attacks and be hesitant to drive again – when you do, you’ll proceed w/ extreme caution; screw the tailgaters behind you, you are going the exact speed limit (or in my case, well under). 

- It’s a real emotional shitstorm. Besides the awful traumatic toll it takes, there’s just so much else to deal w/: filing the claim, getting a rental car, potential injuries and missed work days, buying a new car. I’m exhausted just making the list of the stuff I’ve had to do since. Fortunately one of my sisters was staying w/ us at the time of the accident and was hugely helpful, both emotionally and by letting me use her car. Brent has been understanding and, dare I say, enjoying the new car search? I think he’s in his element when he’s researching what we want to buy, w/ a million tabs open and all the reason we should or shouldn’t get this or that model. State Farm has been pretty easy to work w/; I don’t have any companies to compare them w/, but I feel like they have it together and it’s been a fairly smooth process. 

Honestly, one of the hardest things about the accident was that it was w/ Eleanor (don’t tell me you don’t name your car). Ellie was my first car; a 2005 Hyundai Sonata I bought in 2009. She was the best, even though her antenna was damaged and she rarely got a radio station for more than a few songs w/out the static creeping in. She was more trouble than she was worth my first year back in Boston, when I racked up a handful of tickets and tows after being ignorant to street cleaning or the stupid policy people have of using a chair or orange cone to save their parking spot. It was heartbreaking when I had to go to the salvage yard and see her after the accident, hearing the mechanic say she would definitely be deemed a total loss. In the end, she saved my life; she gave hers so I would live. 

Good Lord, what am I saying right now? I need to wrap this up, preferably w/ the new signature Brent thought would be perfect for my blog posts. On that note:


Stephanie said…
Brent was correct, it's perfect.
Ugh that is just awful, I got a little teary there at Eleanor's loss. Thank goodness you came out okay. I've only ever been in an accident where someone rear ended my mom's car on the highway and it wasn't bad at all - even that was an insurance headache. This sounds like a million times worse.
Brigid said…
it's a pretty fitting sign, right?!

state farm has made it a pretty smooth process, i can't imagine having to wrangle w/ some cut-rate insurer, but you're right, headaches galoreeeee

Randy Lawrence said…
It's important to know what to do after an accident so that you are protected. I like your advice to gather up all belongings from the car and take them with you. I personally lost several items, including a laptop, when my car was towed into a tow lot post accident. My advice is to take it all with you.