Car accident without injury: Should I contact an attorney?

So I was driving to work a few hours ago when I got into a car accident. A woman turned left directly into my path when I had a green light. I know I had a green light and because after the accident I looked up at the light in front of me, one which is very close to the light I went through and it was green and stayed that way for as long as it took me to make sure I was okay, drive the car off the road and get out of the car before turning around to face the person I hit.

And the first words out of my mouth were “I had the right of way, the light was green just like that light is green” while pointing towards it.

This was near my house and I drive that road to work 5 nights a week that the two lights are timed to be green and red together. Even if I didn’t know this at the time of the accident, I had plenty of time while waiting for the police and while they gathered information to sit there and watch the lights and the pattern proved that if I had ran a red light, I would have seen another red light in front of me but I didn’t.

Also, there was a car in front of the woman who made a left turn before she did. This person had ample time to make the turn before oncoming traffic (i.e. me) came along. When I think happened is that she saw a car go that way and a green light (see the following for the details of the light) and she just went. The turn was a very slight left and it came as the road we were both on veered right for her - it might have even seemed to her as if it was the same road.

The woman in question reacted strangely, maybe from shock… She had a child in her car seat but seemed to not care when she was arguing with me. It wasn’t until I saw the car seat and I said to her “Wait a second, is your kid alright?” That’s far more important than anything else" before she said “I don’t know” and opened the door and pulled her (unharmed) daughter from her car seat.

When we were first talking she said to me “I had a green light.” I told her (and showed her) that the sign clearly says “Left turn yield on green;” at that point she claimed that she had a green arrow.

I tried to reason with her, I never raised my voice, yet she accused me of trying to “be tough” with her, which is amusing. I was saying to her very calmly (under the circumstances) “Look at the light pattern and you’ll see that both lights are green at the same time” and she accused me of that. Um, okay. The cops just said to tell it to the insurance companies.

So, the police come and take statements and look at the scene. No idea what the report will say until tomorrow AM when I pay $15 for a copy, but my guess is it won’t assign blame.

It ended with she still convinced that I ran the red light and I am afraid that in a case of “he said, she said” that I will be screwed. Maybe that’s paranoid - I have a clean driving record, not so much as a speeding ticket in over a decade - but I would hate for this to be a major blemish on that (and the low insurance premiums I pay because of it).

What I don’t know is if this is worth me getting an attorney over. We were both able to drive away but we also both had significant body damage to our cars. And every Google search I saw about car wreck lawyers is about personal injury.

Don’t know if this helps but specifically, the accident happened in Pennsylvania but the woman is from Maryland. I dind’t get her information because the cop said it was all in the report.

I am prepared to gather evidence - I will try and get something in writing from the city that confirms that the lights are in synch with each other although I realize that only proves that the lights are in synch, not that I saw a green one in front of me as I claim. I also have a friend of mine with mad Photoshop skillz who is going to use Google Maps and Street View to make a diagram of what happened.

I also think that the damage itself shows that she was not paying attention to her surroundings at all: My car is damaged on the right bumper and headlight because I hit the brakes and swerved to my left to try and avoid her and I hit her straight on because she never even saw me. The damage to her car is not at the front, it’s entirely on the back door of the passenger side, the back half of the car. Even if she had a green arrow, she was well into the intersection when I hit her in rainy conditions - at best it was horrible defensive driving. But I don’t know if that would hold up as evidence in my favor or just evidence against her.

I am scared and don’t want this to screw me but I would hate to spend money on a lawyer if that person cannot help me because there is no lost wages or hospital bills, just two broken cars. What should I do?

Talk to your insurance company first. This is what you pay them for, partially. Her insurance will probably take the blame, and it’ll be over. No need to shell out for an attorney until there’s something to fight about.

I know that right after something like this happens, your emotions run high and you may not be thinking clearly right now. But I just a year ago did the same thing that lady did, and I was under no obligation to confess anything to the other driver, so don’t let that phase you. The next day, my insurance company did the admitting, and got my car towed in a jiffy and me a rental car no problems. Don’t worry about it until you talk to them.

Yeah, talk to your insurance company.

If you’re at fault, they’re on the hook for paying for the repairs. So they have a very strong interest in establishing that you weren’t at fault.

When I was sued, my insurance company handled the legal part of it. I didn’t even have to set foot in a courtroom. (He lost.)

Don’t borrow trouble. I’m surprised that the police didn’t give her a ticket for "Failure to Yield Right-of-Way. I am not an attorney.

Police validation is not necessary. We didn’t even call the police- you’re not supposed to here unless there are injuries or vehicles are blocking the road- and it had no bearing on it at all.

Attorneys don’t usually get into solely property damage claims… too small potatoes.

Following up what the others said about the insurance company - this is their job to handle. Even if you’d have to go to court, they’d provide an attorney; I think an exception is in California, where IIRC small claims court doesn’t allow attorneys.

I was in a similar accident on Mother’s Day, an older woman made a left in front of me to go into a restaurant parking lot on my right. She really didn’t have enough time to make the turn and I believe she wasn’t paying attention or had poor judgement.
I slammed on my brakes but still broadsided her minivan anyway. The guy who was behind me gave me his number and said he’d be a withness that she didn’t have enough time to make the turn. The police were called and one cop talked to each of us in turn to get our stories. The cop told me that she was at fault because she was making a left turn over a double yellow line so I didn’t need a witness.
When I got a copy of the police report there was no mention of a witness, just that the other driver made a turn over the double yellow line. When I talked to the insurance company lady she asked if the cop gave the other driver a ticket for reckless driving. How would I know? I don’t think he did, it never occured to me to ask at the time. I told her what the cop said to me about making a turn over the double yellow line, but according to my Ins. Co., in New Jersey, no one is at fault if both vehicles are moving at the same time. They’re not sure if they’re going to get any money from the other drivers insurance company.
There was no personal injury in my case either, I’m afraid if I contact an attorney I’ll hear a comletely different set of laws. :rolleyes:
I hope things go better for you and your insurance company.

I had a similar incident happen on my 40th birthday. The man admitted that he’d turned in front of me so it was easy to establish whose fault it was. However, had he said that he had a green arrow, it would have been a case of he said/she said.

In any event, I wouldn’t contact an attorney.

A bit late for this. Maybe for next time.

Immediately after an accident:

[ol]
[li]Stay at the scene.[/li][li]Check all drivers and passengers.[/li][li]Call the Police.[/li][li]Exchange information.[/li][li]Never talk/share/discuss/argue the incident with the other party.[/li][/ol]
If there are witnesses present, attempt to get their name(s), contact information and their view of the incident. Gather evidence by taking notes. If your cell phone has a camera, use it! Take LOTS of pictures from every conceivable view.

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the incident. If you contact them at the scene (via cell phone, for example), make sure your conversation is not overheard by the other party or witnesses. (When the Police arrive limit your comments to the actual facts and nothing more, preferably out of earshot of the other party and potential witnesses.)

True (with limited exception).

Um…talk to your insurance company. :slight_smile: Some states have odd laws & practices. When I get a case like the one you’ve described I’m looking for a couple things.

First is the light sequence: does the light sequence support the statements of the drivers. In this case it sounds like it does–partially. Every light with a green arrow AND green dot that I’ve watched will go: red, green arrow, arrow dims and green dot takes over, yellow, red. If you approached a green dot, she will not have had an arrow. If she approached a green dot, her light will not have changed from that to a green arrow. Ergo: either you ran a red light and took her green-arrow right of way; or she turned left on a green dot, taking your right of way. Without a witness, the light argument becomes all but useless.

Next I’m going to look at the actions. Unless directed by a light (which in this case is in question), a left-turning vehicle owes right of way to oncoming through traffic(you). In fact, I’ve seen the left-turner LOOSE even when they have a green arrow and oncoming has a red light. That’s unusual and the decision went something like, "Yes, you had the right of way, but if you’d have been paying attention this wouldn’t have even been a close call). Any way, it usually goes against the left-turner, especialy when there is no agreement on the light.

Having placed the majority of liabilty on the left-turner, I look at points of impact and distances traveled. In this case, it sounds like you hit her toward the rear of her car which suggests she was in your way for a good bit of time (as opposed to a nose to nose collision) and you might have had some ability to avoid the accident. Had you held your lane I’d be inclined to call you up to 25% liable. But you didn’t. The only reason you hit her that far back was because you steered left to avoid her. That suggests heads-up driving, had you not steered you’d have hit her very close to the front end. I wouldn’t be likely to have much if any liability.

This accident happened 12 hours ago. Adrenaline can mask minor pains, and soft-tissue inflammation & spasm can sometimes take hours to a couple days to manifest. Typically these types of injuries will resolve without treatment after a month or two, but if something else is going on it may not resolve without intervention. Keep track of how you’re feeling and seek medical treatment if you think you need it.

As for whether or not you need an attorney, see what the insurance companies come up with first. There’s no rush, and nothing they say HAS to be final. Remember, all an insurance company really is, is a checkbook. They don’t issue citations, they don’t even drive your medical treatment or your car repair(legally). YOUR car was damaged and you have the right to fix it wherever you want for as much as you want to pay. Same goes for injuries. The insurer only has to pay what’s reasonable, however, so don’t go nuts.

I came in to mention what Inigo has as his first point. I can only think of one light in my whole city that has a green arrow for left turns that comes after the green dot and it’s at a non-standard intersection. So confirm that sequence. The only thing I’d add is that, around here at least, the green arrow turns yellow before expiring. That said, assuming a standard light sequence, if you happened to hit your green light at near full speed right after it turned from red (no cars stopped and waiting at light in front of you) the other driver probably ran her very stale arrow and is now simply claiming that she “had the arrow” when she really probably knows she should have stopped and waited (I hate the assholes that do this, btw).

Also, I would focus more on telling the insurance co that YOUR light was green, and not worry as much about the next light up. It’s a valid point, but it also kind of distracts from what matters the most; that your light was green.

I know this is an old thread, but I want to respond in case someone else who finds this has the same question:

I suggest taking pictures of the scene and getting a copy of the police report. Once you have these in hand, contact the insurance company and tell the assigned adjustor what occurred and send him or her the foregoing items. If it is just property damage, it will likely be fairly easy to reach a fair resolution without hiring an attorney. Just don’t wait too long because every claim has time deadlines associated with it.

If you’d like a more in-depth understanding of the process following an accident where no serious injuries occurred, this article might help: Car accidents without injuries

Zombies only seek out attorneys for their brains.

The new poster pointed out that he knew he was responding to an older thread.

Since this thread was bounced I may as well say what happened…

The person I spoke with at the insurance company of the person who hit me was not helpful at all, dragging things on for over a month. My car’s damage was enough that the police were pulling me over and they got sick of hearing me sheepishly explain I was waiting on the insurance company.

Finally, I asked to speak to her supervisor and when I did, I told her everything and she finally said, “Wait, she turned left into you? It’s obviously her fault, let me handle this.”

She immediately got me a rental, paid for the car’s damage quickly and also said she would reprimand the initial person who was handling the claim.

I didn’t need a lawyer, I just needed to speak to the right person at the insurance company.

FYI I was in an accident that totaled my car in December. My first thought was to look at the city street cams and see if it was on tape. Madison has 2 or 3 dozen major intersections covered by cams that anyone can view, and if you see something of interest you can even download and save the footage as evidence.

Unfortunately my accident was at a not-quite-important-enough intersection to have a cam.

It all worked out though. There were witnesses and the very first thing out of the other campany’s insurance adjuster’s mouth was an admission of liability. I got a check and bought a new car in a couple of weeks.

I will also add that if you witness an accident, please notify someone. An impartial witness is gold in these kinds of “He said/she said” things.

Don’t be afraid. Everybody is ok and your driving record will not suffer at all. Do exactly what Alice said in the first response you got on this thread.

Your insurance company will deal with the other company and you will not be bothered much at all.

However - do not fail to get that police report of the accident. Make a copy for yourself and give the original to your insurance agent. . . then relax.