z4By Larry Gordon

So this guy is driving east on the Southern State Parkway on a Sunday afternoon, minding his own business. There is some minimal congestion on the highway, so no one is going too fast. All the cars are moving along significantly below the speed limit, perhaps 25 to 30 miles an hour.

All of a sudden, there is the screech of tires skidding along the pavement behind the vehicle, causing the driver to glance up at the rearview mirror and then the side mirror. There is a car right there practically on top of the lead car, way too close for comfort. The driver–that would be me–tries to accelerate to get out of the way of the car that the other driver has apparently lost control of. But there is traffic and there is no place to go without running the risk of hitting another car.

So boom, my car gets hit by this off-white Toyota, which is then suddenly driving along the grassy shoulder of the roadway before hitting the roadway’s center divider and coming to an involuntary stop. We are okay, but there is damage to the car, as I felt two bounces or impacts from the other vehicle before it came to a stop.

The four occupants of the other car jump out full of apologies about what had just transpired here on this Long Island roadway. I quickly dialed 911 and it took just a few minutes for the State Police to arrive on the scene. The police officer asked all of us if we were hurt. One of the occupants of the other car said that she had hit her head against something. So, he asked, “Do you want an ambulance?” She responded in the affirmative, although she and the others seemed to be walking around just fine.

It didn’t take long but it seems that every available emergency vehicle in the nearby locale of Wantagh was on its way with sirens blaring. There was an additional police car, the volunteer fire department with two vehicles, and three ambulances.

The commotion on the side of the road and then the addition of the mix of emergency vehicles brought traffic to a virtual standstill on the roadway. I don’t know about you, but there seems to be an innate proclivity among many motorists to want to personally inspect an accident site, checking out the people involved, whether you know them, perhaps assess if you can be of assistance or if nothing else feel sorrow or empathy for those poor victims.

So this time, unfortunately, the victims were us. My wife stayed seated in the car as I paraded up and back on the shoulder of the roadway trying to figure things out–if our vehicle could be driven, if anyone else was hurt, and overall just what in the world happened.

I always heard stories about motorists seeing others with yarmulkes or otherwise noticeably members of the community stopping to see if they could assist a like-minded individual that might need assistance. But there was really no need this time, as we were not hurt, baruch Hashem, and in addition there was heavy tree coverage on the center median, obscuring motorists’ view of us.

The four people from the other car seemed okay, too. The car that they had lost control of hit the strong center divider and kind of got stuck to it, making it impossible to move.

After the emergency vehicles and ambulances arrived from Wantagh, I observed all four of the occupants of the other car being placed on stretchers and getting ready to be carted off to the local hospital. “That’s interesting,” I thought. Two minutes prior they were jumping around snapping pictures of my license plate and the damage to my car, and now this.

The damage to the rear and the left side of my car was extensive. It didn’t take a day for me to hear from the claims person at the other party’s insurance company–Geico–to tell me that their client, the other driver, may not be liable and they might not be paying the claim.

The issue here was that the driver of the other car claimed that she was hit by another vehicle, which forced her car into mine. No other car stopped or was disabled or damaged, no one stopped to say they saw another car, and there was no clear evidence that such another vehicle existed.

So I am having these almost daily conversations with these Geico people about the lack of liability on their part and how the accident might have been the fault of a car or a person that no one saw–including the police, who had no record of this. But if you want to know who is liable and who should pay for damages it is they–whoever they are and wherever they may be.

I relate the thrust of these conversations to my claims person at Progressive Insurance, and she says that she is not surprised by the Geico reaction and that they have a track record of shirking their obligations and of directing liability for accidents in some fuzzy or murky direction, as they are attempting to do in this instance.

I tell Geico that as long as they are looking for this phantom car that caused this smashup, maybe we can also conduct a search for whoever murdered O.J. Simpson’s wife. O.J. claims that the culprit is still out there somewhere. I additionally asked him whether his reaction would have been the same if the other occupants of the car that hit me would tell him that a spaceship was trying to land on the Southern State Parkway and that they were trying to avoid the spacecraft when they hit me.

I did not have to go into detail here, because he understands what is going on. I told him I was consulting Progressive and an attorney and going to publicize the injustice they are trying to perpetrate to the extent that I can, so that people realize what is going on.

The claims person from Geico called me the other day just to reiterate that it was very likely that they would not have to pay the claim, though they are waiting for the final police report to reach a definitive conclusion. I spoke extensively to the police officer on the scene and he agreed that except for the people who were now relaxing on stretchers on the side of the road because of their “injuries,” there was no evidence of any other car being involved.

I guess these folks just know how to work and manipulate the system. You can rest assured that Geico will be paying their medical bills and “treatments” for their injuries as well as possibly even contributing to supporting them while they recuperate.

The only thing they might be able to wiggle out of is paying for the damage to my car. Over the last few days, I’ve learned that I really do not know much about the nuances and loopholes in automotive insurance laws. Sure, Geico can make a bogus and even fraudulent claim that their insured party is not at fault. And what is going to happen in all likelihood is that my insurance company, Progressive, is going to pay the claim and then go to an arbitration session with Geico. People in the business tell me that this is normal operating procedure.

How they work is really not my concern. My interest here is to make certain that those responsible pay for the damage done to my car and that as a result of my having no liability here that our insurance premium rates do not increase. So I’m watching this whole process very closely and will report here on the outcome.

I told the claims person from Geico on Monday that I have seen too many people get beat out of insurance money by unscrupulous insurance companies in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Yes, the insurance business is a profit-making enterprise and they certainly do have a right to make money, but not by employing shady and questionable practices that hurt other people. No arbiter or judge, or any fair-minded person, would tolerate that kind of activity.

So I’m glad no one was hurt and I’m fairly certain that the other drivers are either overstating or just plain faking their injuries as they wait for a payday. What can I say–that’s the American way. Of course it’s wrong and it additionally does not help that a formidable company like Geico facilitates that type of activity. Something has got to change. v

Comments for Larry Gordon are welcome at editor@5tjt.com.

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