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Ace Spyder
01-15-2010, 08:57 PM
Car accidents: Well, what I'm interested in knowing right now is what usually happens in the aftermath? Sure, there's a financial strain, but in what ways? Is it the stress of repair bills / buying a new car? Or insurance costs? How do you deal with insurance after a car accident? I'd love some personal stories.

Survivor's Guilt: This one may be a bit personal, although it's the most critical part to the story I'm currently writing. The story is about a girl who was in a car accident that put one man in a coma. At first, she tries blaming other people before she starts blaming herself. What I'd like to know, however, is what kind of feelings and thought patterns are evoked from this type of incident? Are there "what if's" or "if only's?" Or is it something like self-loathing?
Also, what I'd really love to know is what someone would say to the person that was involved in the incident, and, quite possibly, what you think they might say back?

Any help would be highly appreciated. Thank you!

alleycat
01-15-2010, 09:18 PM
For a single car accident where no fatalities are involved, it's more of an inconvenience than anything else. Typically there will be a deductible for repairs (often $300-$500), and some insurance doesn't cover a rental car. If it's an older car there might not even be insurance on the person's own car (just liability insurance for the damage to someone else's car).

Here's a typical scenario:

The crash.

The police come and make a report. If there are serious injuries on the scene they will make a more detailed report.

The driver and passenger(s) might go to the hospital for minor treatment (for whose not seriously hurt). Of course, anyone seriously injured is taken by either ambulance or helicopter to the hospital.

The car is towed if it's not drivable, or if the driver is unable to drive it.

The owner contacts his insurance company. Some insurance companies are easier to deal with than others. In a story you can make this as easy or as difficult as you want.

The owner will get estimates on repairs. Some insurance companies will have a claims adjuster who will estimate the cost of repairs.

The owner will get a copy of the accident report and file a claim with his insurance company.

The driver might have to rent a car while his is being repaired, or if the car is "totaled" while he shops for another car.

The car is taken to the body shop. Repairs can typically take a week.

According to how the insurance company handles the claim, the owner can either get a check directly or the insurance company will pay part of the repair bill directly and the owner pays the remainder.

All in all, it's typically a bother for a week or so, and it can hit the budget hard (or not, according to the person's finances). Of course, it can be much more of a problem than the typical scenario I've laid out depending on whether other cars are involved, the injuries sustained, whether lawsuits are filed, whether the police give the driver a citation, and whether the insurance company is easy or hard to deal with.

Tsu Dho Nimh
01-15-2010, 10:48 PM
The story is about a girl who was in a car accident that put one man in a coma. At first, she tries blaming other people before she starts blaming herself.

Very typical ...


What I'd like to know, however, is what kind of feelings and thought patterns are evoked from this type of incident? Are there "what if's" or "if only's?" Or is it something like self-loathing?
A lot of "if only's" get obsessively replayed by some people. If only I had done/not doen X I owuld have missed the accident by X seconds ... etc.

It can get so bad it requires therapy, but the best thing to do is let people repeat the details of the accident, vent and be emotional.

Maryn
01-16-2010, 12:38 AM
Our daughter was seventeen, the driver who rear-ended someone in 2003--the anniversary is only days away. This accident should have been a major inconvenience, but because someone was not buckled in, there was a fatality. The passenger was thrown from the car and run over by a loaded semi which happened to be there. It is not clear which killed her.

She was fifteen.


Car accidents: Well, what I'm interested in knowing right now is what usually happens in the aftermath? Sure, there's a financial strain, but in what ways? Is it the stress of repair bills / buying a new car?Selecting a new car and making sure it's what you want and the price is fair is always stressful. Having to do it quickly because the rental car provided by your insurer is due back just adds to the stress. For me, there was the additional stress of driving an unfamiliar car, substantially different than the one in the accident, during the worst driving conditions of the year, winter.
Or insurance costs? How do you deal with insurance after a car accident? I'd love some personal stories.[/FONT]Our insurance rates shot way, way up. The family of the dead girl and the trucking company sued us for a combined total of $23.5 million, far more than our insurance coverage plus our total assets. Although it was too late for this accident's coverage, we added a separate insurance policy for a million-dollar payout in the event of accidental death. It was not cheap. Still isn't. But lawsuits seeking millions are the norm.

Survivor's Guilt: This one may be a bit personal, although it's the most critical part to the story I'm currently writing. The story is about a girl who was in a car accident that put one man in a coma. At first, she tries blaming other people before she starts blaming herself. What I'd like to know, however, is what kind of feelings and thought patterns are evoked from this type of incident? Are there "what if's" or "if only's?" Or is it something like self-loathing?The state police (who were terrific throughout--hats off to them) made a point of taking me and my husband aside and telling us that survivor's guilt can be so strong that the survivor harms or kills himself or herself. He did not want to see the existing tragedy doubled and suggested we keep her close and arrange for counseling immediately. As luck would have it, she'd begun counseling for something else two weeks before. The counseling barely helped that issue, but it really did help with the survivor's guilt.

Our daughter was not doing anything wrong, really. She was within the posted speed limit, straight and sober, and simply did not see that the vehicle in her lane was stopped in time to stop herself. It was simply an accident. She was able, with counseling, to accept that she caused an accident, but she would not beat herself up over a death which was fully avoidable. The girl was old enough to know she should buckle. Her mother, driving, could have told her she needed to buckle up. The people who had their seat belts fastened had only bruises. While the death remains a tragedy, our daughter was able to find peace because of the seat belt.

Also, what I'd really love to know is what someone would say to the person that was involved in the incident, and, quite possibly, what you think they might say back?Our daughter doesn't remember this, but apparently she did not say anything to anybody, including the police, until we arrived. We had told her not to admit to guilt or responsibility of any kind if she were ever questioned by the police but to stay quiet until either we or her attorney arrived. Unsure whether this applied to car accidents, she kept her mouth shut. (She's very shy, so this was not hard.)

For those who do talk, I would think that accusation and denial or rationalization would be the norm. "Look what you did, driving so fast!" "I was stopped to turn. I had my signal on. Maybe you should look where you're going." Like that.

Unrelated to your question, but I'll finish the story of our daughter's accident. There was a lot more involved, from a ticket (citation for unsafe speed, even though she was under the limit) to a suspended license (law moves slowly--this was four years after the accident) to multiple court dates. The insurance company had a lawyer to protect its interests, but we had to hire a one to protect ours. The court case became ugly because both the dead girl's family and the trucker believed we were rich and should therefore make them rich. (We aren't, although we're not poor, either. I shop at Target, not Macy's.)

We may have seemed rich, though, because we dressed for court like people dress for church. The attorneys and judge were also dressed up. The trucker and the girl's family all wore jeans or sweatpants, Buffalo Bills team logo shirts or tee shirts, and athletic shoes, to every official proceeding. Maybe people who wear nice clothes seem rich? Mine were from a thrift store. So was my coat.

Worried about losing all we had, my husband sought legal ways to protect the money we'd saved toward our children's college tuitions. We were able to pay both in full before the legal claim was settled.

Nearly five years after the accident, the case was settled for the amount of our insurance, from which the state claimed its unemployment payments to the girl's mother be reimbursed. (She said her back hurt and she could no longer work. The doctors claimed there was no injury detectable and that she seemed depressed rather than injured.) Nobody got rich. The girl's family ended up with a pitifully small amount for the loss of their daughter.

The trucker lost control in the courtroom and screamed at our daughter ("Little rich bitch, is that all it takes to kill whoever you want, money?") as we were leaving; I don't think I've ever before seen my husband clench his fists. Again, the state cops who were there to testify handled things masterfully.

We were advised by our attorney and by the insurance company's attorney not to speak to, write to, or otherwise contact the girl's family, not before the case was settled and not after, either. So we don't. I think of them, but do not act.

Our daughter, meanwhile, never talks about the accident, never wonders aloud what might have been. She knows we are there if she wants to talk, and we respect her choice not to.

Maryn, hoping this helps

veinglory
01-16-2010, 12:49 AM
There are published studies of thos if you use Google scholar, likely outcome include cognitive changes, driving phobia and PTSD.

Ace Spyder
01-16-2010, 04:39 AM
Maryn, thank you so much for your story. I can't express to you how much I appreciate it and how much it helps me to be able to put on both my character's shoes and to be able to imagine myself in your family's situation. Your family and your daughter are in my prayers.

JoNightshade
01-16-2010, 04:52 AM
There was no fatality in any of the accidents I've been in, but I was involved in 3 accidents in less than three months. On accident #3 I was so filled with adrenaline I could not sleep for 24 hours and I think I had to take sleeping pills when I did. I kept replaying it over and over again in my head, how I might have done something differently, if only I'd turned this way, or if only I'd braked instead or if only if only if only...

It's been 5 years or so since then and I still feel like my mental processes have changed because of those accidents. Mostly driving, but also in other things, I visualize accidents everywhere. If there's a close call, my brain will play through what could have been had the worst happened. I have a hard time relaxing when someone else is driving... I drive my husband crazy sometimes telling him he's too close to the car in front, etc. I think it's made me a much more cautious person... overall, probably a good thing, in the car. But sometimes it drives me a little crazy. For instance, I just had a baby... when I put him on the floor to play, I keep thinking about all the accidents that might happen. I could trip and fall on him. I could step on his head. I could drop something on him. All of these things are highly improbable, but I just keep visualizing it over and over.

Anyway, like I said, no fatalities, but I can imagine how what I do now would be magnitudes worse if there had been.

blackrose602
01-19-2010, 07:49 AM
My story does not even begin to compare to Maryn's, but I'll share in case I can help in some small way.

I was 15 and driving my parents' Saab. At the time, in FL, it was legal for 15-year-olds to drive at night during the six months preceding their 16th birthday. As required by law, I had a front-seat passenger over the age of 18.

It was around 11 pm. My passenger, who was a friend from school, and I were on our way to the Rocky Horror Picture Show about an hour from home. I lived kind of in the middle of nowhere, and was on a straight two-lane country road less than ten minutes from my house.

I had a radar detector with a passenger-side visor mount. As I was driving along, I asked my passenger to plug in the detector and put it in the visor mount. For some reason, he freaked out and started waving the detector in my face. I got distracted and glanced away from the road for a moment. When I looked back, I saw a large board in the road. It was too late to stop or swerve. We somehow picked up the board and lost traction. We ended up skidding across the road (thankfully no one was coming) and off the other side, where there was a 3 1/2 foot embankment.

We went over the embankment and into the woods. We uprooted a tree in midair, spun around and bounced off several other trees before coming to a stop. The car ended up 150 feet off the road with the headlights pointing straight up.

I was wearing my seat belt, and I was very banged up and sore, but all right. The car had automatic shoulder belts, but my passenger had not fastened his lap belt. He was thrown from the car. I couldn't find him in the dark.

Someone from a nearby house came out with a flashlight when he heard the crash. I went to his house to call my parents (he had already called the police), while he went to look for my friend.

My parents showed up around the same time as the cops. Somebody found my friend (not sure who, my memory's a little fuzzy on the details), and he was placed into an ambulance. I was ticketed for careless driving (not reckless), and was able to go to traffic school and still get my regular license on time. The police officer said he hated to give me a ticket at all, because he felt it was an unavoidable accident, but there was property damage to the trees/fence (it was a farmer's land), and injury to my passenger, so he had no choice.

After making sure I was okay, my dad went on the hospital to see about my friend while my mom took me home. Turns out my friend had a concussion but no major injuries. He happened to have mild cerebral palsy, which caused his reaction times to be different on opposite sides of his body. So they kept him in the hospital for a few days to make sure there wasn't head trauma.

Anyway, everything became really awkward really quickly. My passenger was actually my partner on a project for film class. I was really better friends with his brother, who was in my acting troupe. After the accident, things became very strained at school between myself and both brothers. We did complete the film project, which became important a few months later. It was near the end of the semester, and we went our separate ways after that.

Meanwhile, the car was of course totaled. My parents had excellent insurance and had been with the company with no major claims for decades. So the claim was paid quickly and their rates went up by a whopping $14 per year.

A few months later, we found out that my passenger was suing both us and Saab. The lawyer pretty quickly realized that we had no real seizeable assets, so they settled with us for the limits of the insurance policy. But the family was determined to go after Saab. Unfortunately for them, a) I remembered the accident well enough to know that my passenger definitely did not buckle his lap belt and b) I still had the film from the film project. He was trying to claim all sorts of lasting injuries, but I had him on film dancing and acting perfectly normal just a few days after the accident. I signed a deposition for Saab and turned over a copy of the film to the attorney. The case was thrown out.

Even though everything worked out extremely well, I had major car phobias for a long time. I forced myself to drive back across that stretch of road the next day, but I was panicky behind the wheel, gradually decreasing in severity, for years. I became an almost impossible passenger, constantly bugging the driver about stoplights and other traffic, and trying to stomp the invisible passenger-side brake pedal.

I also had flashbacks, particularly when in a car at night. I felt horribly guilty about my friend going to the hospital, about totaling my parents' shiny new car, just on and on. I played a lot of what-if games, and found out years later that my parents beat themselves up for a long time too.

I also had a reaction that might be pretty weird, or maybe common, I don't know. I was a virgin when I had the wreck. I somehow got it into my head that I could have died, and I didn't want to die a virgin. So less than a week later, still so sore I could barely move, I went out and slept with my jerk of a boyfriend. We ended up splitting up within a month, and the ensuing guilt from losing my virginity under those circumstances sort of blended with the guilt from the accident. I was pretty messed up emotionally for awhile.

Wow, that was longer than I intended. Hope some of it helps you put yourself in the mind of a teenage female accident-causer!

BillPatt
01-19-2010, 10:03 PM
I was not there, I did not witness it. But I will never forget it.

One fine summer day on a military base where my father was stationed, a classmate of mine and five others went for a drive to the local winery. After several hours, the driver, as well as a all the friends, were pretty intoxicated. On the way home, they lost control on a curve and wrapped the car around a 150 year old oak. Four teens were killed immediately. One lived for a while only because the wreckage compressed him. He lived for two hours, trapped with his dead friends. Once cut out of the car, he died within five minutes. One girl lived with hardly a scratch.

I was not able to attend the memorial service or funeral, as I was in basic training at the same base where the accident occurred. I knew everyone in the crash. To this day, I will never forget a road march two weeks later that took us past the site of the accident. The tree had been cut down, the stump ground down below the ground line, and the gravel spread around the area. If you did not know where the tree originally was, you would never know.

I ran into the survivor about a year later. She had changed from a cheerful, vibrant girl into a shadow of her former self. There was a distinct air of fragility about her. She didn't talk about the accident, and I only inquired as to how she was doing. I got the sense that it would be a long, long time until she recovered, if she ever would.

I think of my friends every time I drive past that curve. This was definitely a preventable accident.