Help with minor accident.
February 6, 2013 5:49 PM   Subscribe

My car slid into a pole on a slippery street. What now?

I live in an extremely hilly part of town. Today it was snowing and roads were slippery. I started sliding down a narrow hill and had to steer off the road and hit this pole with my car. I did an annoying amount of damage to the front end of my car and the pole (which was buried in snowbank) was bent over at maybe a 60-70 degree angle.

Anyway, when I got home, I called the local police and told the cop who answered the phone what had happened. He only seemed concerned that I was okay and told me I could come in and file a report in the next few days and that it would probably be good to call the city and report the bent pole. He didn't take my name or ask for any specifics. My dad said this is probably the 500th phone call of this nature the guy had answered that day since the roads were so greasy.

A few people have said I shouldn't bother to report it and that this stuff happens all of the time. Which made me wonder if they would make me file an insurance claim to pay for the pole? Or if this is just par for the course for municipalities in snowy places? I guess I'll find out when I talk to them but I'm curious to hear if anybody else has had a similar experience.
posted by futureisunwritten to Grab Bag (9 answers total)
It occurs to me that you'll need a police report if you plan to use your car insurance to pay for the damages to your car.
posted by Sara C. at 5:51 PM on February 6, 2013

Response by poster: I'll be paying out of pocket for the damage to my car. Good point though.
posted by futureisunwritten at 6:15 PM on February 6, 2013

Here's how it works (I used to work in insurance claims). If you do damage to public property, and you were negligent, they will likely ask you to pay for it. If you have liability coverage on your car (which is required in most states), it will pick up the damages up to a limit that should easily be covered by that type of coverage. The only time you have to worry about a deductible is if you get the damages fixed to your own vehicle.

If you end up filing a claim for the damages to your own vehicle, your company will actually follow up with the city to offer to pay for the damages as part of your claim. You will not (that I am aware of) need to actually file a police report for your insurance to kick in. If you are not planning to file a claim, the right thing to do at that time would be to go to the city/police and let the know what happened, and discuss whether payment would be expected. However, you can file a claim for the property damage that was done, even if you don't want to get your own car fixed through your insurance.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:17 PM on February 6, 2013

Fix your car and forget that you ever hit the pole. The city will fix it. Also, get rid of that picture unless you like posting evidence for people to use against you at trial.
posted by empath at 7:18 PM on February 6, 2013

That's not a "pole" as in utility pole. THat's a signpost. It is *so* not an issue; you could probably push it up vertical with a strong friend.
posted by notsnot at 8:59 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was expecting a big utility pole or street lamp - that's just a sign post. Some guy from the city will come over, and push it back upright. Eventually. A year, maybe two. If it needs to be replaced, you're looking at a parts and material bill of ten, almost fifteen dollars, and by then, they will have forgotten who pushed it over.

So, file a report if you like. The city ain't gonna care, and if they come after you, even with labor, you're looking at a bill in the low two figures. Literally dozens of dollars.

Or just go over there and push it back up yourself... use a sledge hammer or the flat of a shovel to tamp the earth solid so it stays upright.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:11 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you're going to pay for repairs to your car out of your own pocket, there's no reason to file a police report. Plus, filing a police report would potentially give the city a paper-trail to find you and bill you for the signpost's repair/replacement (including labor).

Walk away and don't file anything.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:56 AM on February 7, 2013

I'm with those who say forget about it.

When they started using the transponders on the Florida Turnpike, each toll plaza had a different programming. For some you just keep driving through, for others, you'd have to slow down to wait for the arm to raise before going through. I biffed one and totally creamed the arm.

I called the turnpike authority and told them about it. This was the response:

Me: I accidentally creamed the arm at the toll booth.

They: Are you making a claim for damage to your car?

Me: No, I just need to know what I have to do to take care of the arm.

They: Are you kidding? Don't worry about it.

So...yeah, don't worry about it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:24 AM on February 7, 2013

Yeah, I completely took down an absolutely necessary sign (one way street) a few years ago in a similar situation and they rush-put one back up. Cost less than 150, and that's parts, labor, and "you made us put up a new sign overnight gdi" fee.

My insurance paid all of it. Of course, then my rates went up, despite the police being called to the scene by me and declaring it no fault of mine due to the extremely poor road conditions and sudden nature of the storm. Grr.
posted by saveyoursanity at 8:10 PM on February 7, 2013

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