THE STORY SO FAR...Mark is driving along Steeles Avenue in Brampton with a clear road ahead of him. Suddenly a car pulls in front of him and slams on the brakes. Mark rear-ends the car and five people get out, all injured. Mark calls Bud for...
THE STORY SO FAR… Mark is driving along Steeles Avenue in Brampton with a clear road ahead of him. Suddenly a car pulls in front of him and slams on the brakes. Mark rear-ends the car and five people get out, all injured. Mark calls Bud for some advice about what to do…
• Traffic was continuing to slide past the accident scene. The police had likely been notified because two tow trucks had already arrived on the scene, no doubt having heard a report of the accident on their police radios.
As Mark came around the front of Mother Load, he took a moment to check the Peterbilt’s front bumper. He was relieved to see that there was just minor damage to his truck, which would be an easy enough fix. But it wasn’t his truck that Mark was worried about. It was the aged sedan that he’d hit with five seemingly brittle passengers inside.
He came upon the first passenger, a dark-haired man looking to be in his mid-forties. “Are you alright?” Mark asked. The man’s face contorted in pain and he let out a moan. Mark moved onto the driver. “Are you okay?”
The driver put a hand on his car to steady himself and shook his head.
Mark moved to the other passengers in turn and asked them the same question, “Are you alright?” None of them answered him with any more than a simple “No,” or a shake of their head.
Mark took a quick look around and saw that the police and ambulance hadn’t showed up yet. It would be a good idea to get a police report on this accident, as well as some medical assistance for the people who’d been in the car. He took out his cell phone to call 911 but he never got the chance to dial.
“No, no, no,” someone said.
Mark looked up from his phone and saw the driver was approaching him with a frantic look on his face.
“No police,” he said. “Insurance information, please.”
‘So,’ Mark thought. ‘He does know some English after all.’
“Don’t worry,” he said. “You’ll get my information, but I want the police here first.” Then, while Mark had his cell phone handy, he switched on the camera and began to record the scene.
He started at his truck, making sure to record the damage to his bumper. Of course, there was little more than superficial damage to the wide slab of steel, but a picture of it would provide some evidence of how fast Mark was travelling at the moment of impact.
Next, he moved to the rear of the car, making a slow pass of the entire rear end to record every bit of damage for posterity. It was an old car with plenty of rust and the cost of repair probably wasn’t even worth the value of the car. This one would be a write-off.
“Insurance information,” the driver said again, this time approaching with his own ownership and insurance documents in his hand.
“Yeah, just a minute,” Mark said. “First I’d like to know where you’re injured.” He held the cell phone up high. “Is it your back?” A nod.
“How about your neck?” Another nod.
“What about your knees and legs?”
The driver stumbled at the very mention of those limbs.
Mark moved on to the passengers and it was the same story with each one. Back pain, neck pain, headaches. This was going to be a real insurance nightmare, he thought. Five claimants, plenty of soft-tissue damage…the claims could go on for years. Just then someone came up behind Mark and tapped him on the shoulder. Mark turned and saw an elderly man standing there, a business card in his hand.
“I see that your truck is damaged,” he said, extending the hand with the card in it. “I know a good mechanic in town, my nephew. He has his own shop not far from here. He does good work, little money. You pay cash if you want, no problem.”
Mark brushed the man’s hand away. “Thanks pal, but I’ve got my own mechanic.”
Finally the police arrived on scene.
“Thank God,” Mark muttered.
One cruiser pulled up behind Mother Load with its roof lights on while another tucked into the gap between the truck and the car.
But as happy as Mark was to see the police, their presence seemed to have a detrimental effect on the car passengers. Each one of them suddenly seemed to be thrown into spasms of pain, writhing and moaning with newfound agony.
“You the driver of the truck?” one of the officers asked Mark.
Mark explained exactly what had happened, and as he did so the officer just began nodding…as if he’d heard plenty of similar stories before.
“Alright,” he said. “Give me your driver’s licence and insurance info. I’ll talk to the driver of the car, and I’ll probably have to talk to you again.”
“Can I wait in my truck?”
“Yeah, sure. I shouldn’t be too long.”
Mark climbed back up into Mother Load and watched as two ambulances showed up on scene.
As the car passengers were being looked at, the police went from one man to the next getting their information and taking notes. Minutes later, the car was on the end of a wrecker and two of the passengers had been placed on stretchers and loaded into ambulances for transport to a hospital.
“You gotta be kidding me?” Mark said, watching the scene unfold. “They were riding in a Buick for Pete’s sake, not a Pinto!”
Then as the police officer approached, Mark rolled down his window and said, “Were they hurt that bad, officer? I wasn’t going that fast, I swear.”
Again the officer nodded like he’d heard similar excuses before. “Come on down,” he said. “I need to speak to you in my cruiser.”
Mark climbed down out of Mother Load and got into the front seat of the cruiser parked behind his truck.
“Are you alright?” the officer asked.
“I’m shaken up a bit,” Mark said. “And more than a little worried about what might happen to my insurance premiums.”
“That’s normal. It looks like it’ll be a big claim.”
“But I didn’t do anything wrong. As stupid as it sounds, I was just driving along minding my own business when they pulled right out in front of me and…“
The officer put up his hand to cut Mark off. “I know.” A pause. “Unfortunately you did run into the back of their vehicle…and I have no option but to give you a ticket for following too closely.”
Again the officer raised his hand.
“I’m not saying you’re at fault, but in these circumstances I don’t have a lot of discretion. I have to give you a ticket of some kind, so I am. However, we know that there are plenty of staged accidents in this city, especially on this stretch of road. It’s gotten so bad that insurance rates for people living here are higher than for those living somewhere else…anywhere else.”
“Believe it,” the officer said. “Now it’s not up to me to decide if it’s a staged accident or not, but if the insurance company denies their claim and it goes to court, then a judge can decide based on the evidence.”
He handed Mark his ticket and a copy of the accident report. “All the names and information of the people in the car are there for you in the report. Your insurance company will be able to use that information.”
Mark nodded. “And what about my ticket?”
“Fight it. If you take it to court, who knows, I might be busy that day, or I might lose my notes on this accident.”
Mark understood and thanked the officer for his time.