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  • By Jordan W. Charness

    BAM!! It took just a second to happen. In a moment of inattention the driver of the car behind Peter’s slammed his car into Peter’s rear bumper. Peter’s head was jolted back and hit the head restraint. Fortunately, Peter was stopped at the time and the car behind him was only going a few kilometres an hour. Although the impact was noisy it caused only a little damage to both cars. And although Peter’s head did jolt back, the head restraint cushioned his neck stopping him from getting a serious case of whiplash.

    The incident itself was brief but the societal consequences and legal aspects were enormous. As far as the law is concerned, in the vast majority of cases where one car is rear-ended by another, the car doing the rear ending is declared to be legally at fault. This will have an impact on the insurance premiums of the owners of the cars. In theory the owner of the car that got hit should not face an increase in premiums while the owner of the car doing the hitting would probably see a rise in insurance costs.

    This is not a hard and fast rule as the allocation of an increase in insurance premiums is based on more than just the fault of the people involved in an accident.

    In most cases an accident is not really an accident. The word accident implies that no one was at fault but in most cases the inattention or behaviour of one or both of the drivers leads to the incident occurring.

    Once an incident has taken place, even the most minor fender bender will have consequences. Although the police do not normally have to be called unless there is physical injury, it is possible that the police may be called by a bystander or by the fact that the cars involved in the incident are blocking traffic. In this case the incident has already led to the involvement of a police officer or two as well as the filling out and filing of reports both at the police station and with insurance companies.

    Even if the police do not have to attend the scene the parties involved in the incident now have to deal with each other. At the very least they will have to take the time to exchange identification and insurance information. No doubt the one who was not at fault will have to control his or her temper while talking to the other party who will have to at least appear to be apologetic.

    If one of the cars is not drivable a tow truck will have to be called thereby slowing down traffic while the tow truck driver does his thing which will include blocking traffic to some extent. This will have an impact on all the people who were driving along that road and are now going to be delayed.

    If the tow truck does not have to be called and both cars can leave the scene under their own steam, the owners of the cars will still have to deal with arranging to have their cars repaired. This will entail taking the time to find a qualified repair shop, leaving the car for the repair, and picking it up later in addition to paying the cost of any repair that is not covered by insurance.

    Even if the damage is so minimal that the owner decides to live with it rather than repairing it, the incident will, at the very least, have cost both the drivers and their passengers some time while they deal with the other driver. This will make the parties to the incident arrive later to wherever it was they were going in the first place which in itself may have consequences. Arriving 20 minutes late for a job interview may cost you the job while arriving late for home may lead to consequences from the powers that be.

    Even a little fender bender incident will have far-reaching consequences so it pays to pay attention while you drive.

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