Sunday, September 20, 2009

Car accident

I was in a car accident today. A few things to get out of the way:

1) I am fine. There were no (human) injuries in the accident. My neck hurts but it's been hurting me all day and was not worsened by the accident.

2) I am not at fault for the accident.

3) A cop was called to the scene, and there were several witnesses; I have all the necessary information to get my car fixed at no cost to me, with no increased premiums.

4) My car can be driven just fine.

So, what happened?

I went up to Reading to visit my flute teacher, and on the way back, I decided to stop at the grocery store (Market Basket, because it's cheap!). After I finished, I put my groceries in my car and then got ready to back out of the spot. The person in the spot across the aisle from me, though, was also backing out to leave, so I let them go first. I knew they were leaving because I was looking behind me while trying to back out, and I saw their whites were on. Before I could back out, another car pulled in.
I began to pull out, but the car that had just pulled in was then straightening out. After they had pulled out and back in twice, I thought they were done; their whites weren't on. So I backed out.Just as I was putting my car into drive, I realized that the car was REVERSING. AGAIN. INTO ME. So I beeped as quickly as I could, since there wasn't enough time for me to get out of the way. They did not seem to notice.
They hit my driver's side rear door. I then parked and opened my door to get out as they pulled back into the space. THEN THEY BEGAN TO BACK OUT AGAIN, while I had my door open! People yelled, though, and the driver realized that I was there.

Out of the car came three very annoyed women. The asked, "What, did you hit us?" I explained, "I had been waiting for you to back out, and I thought you were done, so I backed out." I pointed to my vacated space.

"Obviously I wasn't done!" said the driver. She pointed to her car. "I was still straightening out!"

"Were you looking behind you?" I asked, trying to stay calm/not cry about the massive damage to my beautiful, recently purchased car.

"Of course I was!" she answered indignantly. Her companions were going on about how I should have waited for them to be finished.

A woman who had been parked next to me had seen the accident, and she came over when she realized that the other women thought it was my fault. As she explained to them that she had seen the whole thing and that they had backed up into me, a young man from Market Basket, who had been bringing in carts, came to me to ask if I was okay and if I would like him to call a cop (I thanked him). Soon, the cop arrived, in time for the three women from the car that had hit me to complain to him about the witness who had confronted them.

The cop looked at the damage, asked what had happened, and heard the story from me, two witnesses (the woman and a different MB employee), and the three women from the other car. He looked at the damage and asked whether or not I could drive my car sideways. I answered, "Of course not," not realizing that he was asking in order to demonstrate the absurdity of the situation: I could not be at fault because it was impossible for ME to have hit THEIR car, based on the location of the damage.

The three women kept going on about how rude one of the witnesses was, how obvious it was that they were still straightening the car out, and how I came out of nowhere and should have waited for them to finish. Meanwhile, the cop collected everyone's information and proceeded to write a citation for the other driver. 40 minutes later, after calling my mom and totally crying like a baby, I got to go home with a massive dent in my car.

I'm very thankful that the MB employee went and called a cop, and that the witness was not only very kind, but also very firm about standing her ground. She didn't need to do it, and with the culture of inactive bystanding we all live in, I really appreciate what she did. I'm also grateful that the cop was understanding and, well, correctly assigned fault.

I would be upset either way, especially since my car was new and my birthday is Tuesday. But what was really the part that bothered me was the way that the other driver and her companions insisted that it was my fault, when it, legally and logically, was not. Yes, when it comes down to insurance, I'm in the clear. But when someone hits your car and then refuses to accept responsibility for it, it's pretty hard.

The most annoying part is this: when you are in reverse in a typical passenger car, you are supposed to (legally, actually) turn around and look through your car, out the back window to make sure you do not hit or run over anyone. You aren't supposed to check your mirrors instead, and you certainly aren't supposed to NOT look. Since I was looking out the back of my car earlier, I could see that the other driver kept straightening their car; I could tell because I was looking!

The driver said that 1) she WAS looking, and 2) she did not see me. But only one of those statements could possibly be true. So either she saw me and went anyway (not only ridiculously unlikely, but who would DO that?!), or she did not look behind her while backing out. Considering that she didn't even realize she'd hit me and continued to straighten the car (after all, she backed out a second time and almost hit my open door), I'd bet my left ovary that she just wasn't looking. She deserves a citation; that's reckless driving, and had, say, a PERSON been walking behind that car, they might have been killed.

So, I'm fine, although very angry and emotionally shaken up. I'm not looking forward to having to do all the work necessary to have my car fixed, although I'm going to do it ASAP. And mostly, I'm just really, really heartbroken every time I look at the damage. It's ugly.

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