In the event of minor vehicular accidents, drivers can learn the proper protocol to follow from the experiences of those who have dealt with a slight collision, as well as the expertise of local law enforcement professionals.
On Friday, Sept. 3, local resident Brittany Comer’s car was hit on Cedar Ave. by a mother of Joaquin Miller Elementary School while Comer awaited academic dismissal to pick her child up from school. Comer says the other driver was on her phone while driving a black Range Rover when she hit Comer’s parked blue Mercedes. This resulted in scratches running along the driver’s side rear bumper panel of Comer’s car and scratches along the other driver’s vehicle. As they were at a school traffic site, the driver’s speed was slow and the damage was slight with no injuries.
The other driver, however, would not offer her insurance information to Comer and tried to talk her out of approaching her insurance agency about the incident.
“She refused to share insurance information, only her cell number,” Comer said. “She said her premiums are too high and that she would pay out of pocket for my car’s repairs. She claimed her husband could buff out the damage on my car, and that I shouldn’t take it to a shop, or go through my own insurance. I did not trust this for a second, but she would not offer her insurance information.”
Comer took photos, jotted down details of the accident, and quickly reported the incident to a BPD officer whom she says was “extremely helpful” in writing down the details she offered and helping her file an incident report with her insurance company. After days of limited responses from the other driver, Comer was eventually able to obtain their insurance information. Although she initially felt relief that her costs would be waived and her insurance agent was prepared to approach the other driver’s insurance agency for the cost of repairs, Comer soon received news that led to a scenario she describes as “a true nightmare.”
“I received two upsetting letters from her own insurance claiming I was at fault,” Comer said. “She quietly changed her story to her own insurance and claimed I backed out into traffic! This made no sense. I was parallel parked, with a car in front of and behind me, both parked as well. And my car was off! Her insurance claimed that because there were no witnesses to prove otherwise, I was 100% at fault.”
Fortunately, Comer says she and her husband have a strong car insurance plan and their agent ensured that she did not pay anything out of pocket for car repairs.
In the case of minor traffic collisions, BPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Emil Brimway firstly recommends securing the exchange of information between the individuals who were involved in the accident. Taking photos of the cars at the scene of the accident for insurance purposes is also advised.
“The two big things are the insurance and the driver’s license,” Brimway said. “As long as everyone involved does have that information, then we encourage people to exchange information and contact their insurance companies.”
The police department can be contacted if this information is not easily shared between drivers. Furthermore, Brimway notes that if someone may believe a driver is under the influence, law enforcement officers can get involved and facilitate the situation.
“If one party is refusing [to give information] for some reason, doesn’t trust the other person or doesn’t want to hand over their personal information directly to the other person and would rather have an officer be present…then that would be a reason to call the police to help facilitate the exchange of information,” Brimway said. “Another reason to call the police is if you’re involved in an accident and you believe the other party may be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, whether it’s on private property or public roadway.”
In addition to obtaining the necessary information to report to insurance agencies, Brimway recommends that anyone who has been in a minor accident maintains road safety for other drivers. When the damage from an accident is slight, pulling to the side of the road or entering a nearby parking lot to exchange information rather than in the road can prevent further collisions from occurring.
“If it’s a minor accident, even if it’s minor injuries, minor damage or no injuries [it’s important] to get out of the roadway safely,” Brimway said. “We don’t want another car to drive off and hit two cars stopped in the middle of the road and … now we’ve caused another accident potentially [with] some serious injuries because we have people from the first accident outside the car.”
Some advice Comer has for other drivers who may find themselves in a scenario similar to hers are: be calm, be kind but firm, do your best to secure a strong insurance plan as a preventative measure, and record details at the scene so you can report an honest account of the incident.
“Even when the other person is lying, continue to be calm and share the truth,” Comer said. “Use the information you recorded at the scene to accurately report all details of what happened. I can’t tell you how much stress and anxiety this caused me, especially when I received letters in the mail claiming I was at fault when I did nothing wrong. However, I stood my ground, continued to push and pursue her for the information I needed as well as reached out to the awesome Burbank community for any witnesses who might be willing to come forward. There are so many good people out there, but unfortunately, I have learned to be more reserved and less trusting of people in general from now on.”