Monday, July 6, 2015

Screech- Bang! ... and Much More

I have written about one of life's curve balls in the past; this post is one of them... as you can see in the picture, that's what happened to my minivan last Monday.

I took my car in for an oil change. I take mine in to the car dealership where we bought our car brand new almost 5 years ago. Even though I made an appointment for the oil change, there were so many cars in the garage. So I talked to a person who works there, did the paperwork and signed my name and headed in to waiting area. I found a spot and sat down and started to read. After a short while, I heard,

SCREECH, BANG!!!!!


Everyone in the waiting area looked up, including myself. "That didn't sound good" I thought.

Many people stood up and headed to the garage to see what happened. I also saw many people come from the sales area and from upstairs to go see what had happened. I sat and waited for a while.

As some people came back they were saying that "Man, that didn't look good." or "Boy, I feel bad for the owner..."

I thought "ok, maybe I will go check this out myself too" then I stood up and walked to the garage. There is a large glass window where you can see the whole garage. As I was getting closer to it, I saw a white minivan and a truck unnaturally close to each other.

NOTE: Does this happen to you? In your mind you can see things and be able to process what might have happened but you are in denial and try to direct your thoughts to somewhere else? Basically that was happening in my head. Ok, you can keep on reading...

I thought well, this is a Toyota dealership, of course there are gonna be other white minivans just like mine. That's not mine.

I got closer... then I saw a rectangle blue handicap sign hanging in the middle of the front windshield. Ugh... That moment, I knew, that minivan is mine. I kept the same pace and got closer to my van and saw some damage even from behind. My van was rammed into the truck that was in front of it. When they backed out my van it made a horrible sound and revealed its damage. My jaw dropped and for a moment I could only stare at it blankly, but I took a picture and sent it to my husband with short message that said "Look at what happened to my van".

He was on his way, but in the meanwhile my head was filled with our schedule for the next few weeks. The thing is, I can't drive any other car except ours. Because I have prosthetic limb on the right leg, I have a special pedal installed in my van so I can drive with my left leg. Mr. TRH's sedan has the same pedal and I can drive it, but we bought the minivan to meet our family's needs. (I did by the way, tell them that there was a left foot accelerator that can be easily removed and to be careful.)

My boys are doing a lawn mowing business for the summer and I was helping them out to haul the lawnmower... they need to call their customers and tell them what happened...

While all this (and more) was going through my mind, many people in the garage came up to me and said "sorry this happened" or "make sure that they (the dealership) will take good care of you", trying to comfort me. I really appreciate those gestures but the storm in my head was still there and I started to tear up. Then, an older couple approached me. They were the owners of the truck that was hit by my van. Instead of being angry, they were so nice and sweet and they both tried to comfort me. We walked to the waiting area (the woman got me a tissue as well) and sat and started to talk to each other while we were waiting to talk to the dealer.

We met under bad circumstance, but as we talked to each other we found we have lots of common ground and had a very nice visit. I didn't ask their number or anything, but I really appreciated the time we spent together and their kindness to me.

So, after three hours of waiting... we were able to sit and talked to the people at the dealership. They told me that what happened was that person who drove my car was just going to shimmy the car forward while riding the brake. He accidently stepped on both the left foot accelerator and brake at the same time and the car launched forward. I always warn them about the special pedal, if you are not used to it, that could happen... it was a total accident. I am grateful that nobody got hurt because of this, it would been terrible if that was the case.

Well, a week later we still don't know what is going to happen. I think they are trying to figure out what they can do with their insurance company and all. The thing is that we bought the car brand new at the end of 2010 (it's a 2011 model) and paid it off shortly after. Our plan was to drive that van for a long time, at least until our youngest is out of the house. We were not expecting to have any car payments for years except for regular maintenance.

What is the most likely scenario for something like this? Does anybody know?

Phew... talk about a curve ball... I am just hoping and praying that things will work out ok. Hopefully I can write a good follow up post soon. :)





26 comments :

  1. Dear me, Sachiko...what an awful thing to happen to you. I would think that the car would be replaced by the dealership's insurance although I am not sure how things works in the US. I do hope you get a car to drive soon. Big hugs!

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    1. I don't know what is going happen exactly, but I will keep you posted. :)

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  2. Sorry about this.
    You can either use your own insurance company to have your vehicle fixed or use the dealership. There is no reason that anyone should be waiting around.
    If you use your company you are likely to have to pay your deductible but your company will try to collect from the at fault party. By the way the dealership is the at fault party.
    Either the dealership or your insurance company will write an estimate to repair the vehicle. They will write the damage they can see--they should have a pretty good idea if there will be other damage when they start the work.
    They will compare the cost to repair against the value of the vehicle.
    If it costs more than the value of the vehicle then they will total out your vehicle and offer the market value of your vehicle right before the accident. If you use this shop all of the time, they will have records on how well you have maintained your vehicle.
    If your vehicle is able to be repaired, you may have a claim for diminished value because the vehicle has been in an accident. Some states recognize this and some do not. In the most simple terms this means if there were two identical vehicles and only one had been in a wreck what is the difference in what the vehicles would be worth.
    The dealership needs to provide you with a rental vehicle or help you find a compromise.
    While it is too bad that there were other vehicles involved, you are in no way responsible for the damage to the other vehicles.
    Your insurance agent may be able to offer you some help in what you should do.
    Again, I am sorry, no one ever needs to deal with something like this.

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    1. Thank you so much for taking your time to give me great advice Mary Jo! Mr.TRH did some digging too, and we are waiting to hear back from the dealership. We are certainly not being greedy, but since we paid the car off a long time ago, we don't want any car payments and hope to be able to get very close to if not the same as what we had. We will see what happens!

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  3. :( Fingers crossed that all goes well!

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    1. Thank you! We are hoping it will all work out too. :)

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  4. I think you consult a lawyer and ensure the company's insurance pays for a new handicapped van. Keep in mind lawyers collect 33% or so of settlements so that gets deducted from your award. Therefore make sure any offer you accept covers the legal fees too.

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    1. You should not be without a minivan while this is being resolved. The dealership should provide one to you for free until your case is settled. You need an experienced negotiator on your side, demanding a replacement van with modified pedal: this would be a lawyer and at minimum your insurance company should be protecting your rights.
      Let an attorney or your agent work out the details. In the meantime, the dealership is at fault and you should have a loaner minivan with pedal modifications available to you immediately. ADA Americans with Disabilities may have claim agents that can help the dealership understand their responsibility.
      You are too nice and patient, you need a bulldog to represent you. Waiting a week is unacceptable. Do you have a friend who is an attorney? Make an appt with dealership owner and bring the attorney with you, help the dealership know you want back what was taken from you (not some welded together mish mash of your old wrecked minivan whose value will never be the same.) Be bold, protect yourself.

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  5. The photo scared me, as I thought you or your family were in the car. Whew, glad you're physically ok. Hope the insurance is good, and the dealership gets you a new van on THEIR dime!

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    1. Sorry I scared you! I am fine, and yes indeed I am so glad I wasn't in the car and no one got hurt. I seriously don't want any car payments since we paid it off a long time ago. We will see what happens.

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  6. Holy Cow! I am glad no one was hurt. However, UGH!!!! I would think if your frame of your van is still ok they will fix your van. I believe, and I can be wrong that side impact is what normally torques a frame of a car. At least in my experience it is. They will have to give you a rental so maybe you will have to drive hubby's car? You took all of this very well. I hope things get worked out quickly.

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    1. Yeah... they couldn't tell if the frame was damaged or not at that point and we still don't know what is going on. My worry is that even if they fixed it, we will start having problems later. We never have good luck with used cars (that's why we bought it brand new!). I will keep you posted. :)

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  7. I am so sorry this happened to you! My initial thought was glad you were not in the car when that happened, but then read about the special pedal and realized how much trouble this is going to be for you. I talked to someone working at a dealer, and he said you may even have to deal with the insurance company directly. But hopefully your dealer offers good customer service and makes things work out fast and smooth. The insurance will only pay the value of the car, but I hope the dealer will cover the cost to install the pedal!

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    1. Thank you so much for thinking of me and giving me valuable advice, Annie! I still don't know what is going to happen, but we are hoping everything works out and they will do the right thing for us. :)

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  8. Not to worry- this will have to be covered by the dealership, and if this particular dealership is at all interested in keeping its customers, they WILL either repair or replace the van, with the adaptations, and right quickly. I work for a heavy equipment dealership, and my boss is a former service manager, at a car dealership (Honda)- he says that in an instance like this, where the dealership is BLATANTLY at fault, they take care of the customer, as soon as possible- and they do NOT EVER claim it on their insurance. They do the repair or replacement in-house, no insurers involved, because of what a claim would do to their dealership's insurance rates. If it was a rinky-dink outfit, I'd worry, but a Toyota dealership is going to do everything they can to make you happy. But DO feel free to vent to them about the pace that they're moving at, in solving the problem- they need to understand the situation. Don't be afraid to make demands, m'dear. They screwed this up, and they need to fix it, like YESTERDAY!

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  9. Heather, thank you so much for your great advice! We don't think or deal with situations like this in our daily lives, so I feel so grateful for your input. Especially coming from someone who is working in the industry. It is not very convenient for me to drive my hubby's sedan, but at least I have something I can drive. I certainly miss my van though.

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  10. ohhh dear, that didn't look good, so glad you or anyone else wasn't hurt
    hope they fix your car soon
    thanx for sharing

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    1. We are in the process of resolving this, I will be sure to write an update! :)

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  11. So sorry about your car! Quick story about our similar experience last year. Our car fell off the lift while getting an oil change, and was totaled. It almost fell on my husband and the two owners of the service station, so we try to focus on that blessing. But the insurance settlement didn't come close to what we needed to spend to replace the car. Hope you have better luck, and don't accept their first, or even third offer!

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    1. Oh my gosh, your story is even more scarier than mine! I am so glad no one was hurt. We are in the process of resolving this...we will see what happens.

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  12. So glad you aren't hurt!! They should give you a loaner car until they figure out what is going to happen. I would call your insurance and talk to them and ask them what needs to take place. I think they should replace your van, give you money to get a new one..or give you an even nicer one!! Keeping my fingers crossed!!

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    1. They gave us a loaner, but it doesn't have the pedal I need. My husband is driving that loaner and I am driving his, but his sedan is a tight fit for me and causes pain after a short while of driving. I can't wait to get my van! I will be sure to write an update.

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  13. Sweet Sachiko! I am so sorry. When I saw the picture my heart leaped. I was so glad you and the children were not in it when it happened.

    Fight hard! Don't accept the offer until it fills your needs. You have my prayers!

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    1. So sorry to make you worry! We are all fine indeed, thank you for thinking of me. :)

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  14. How annoying! I did want to tell you though ..... my friend's husband has a prosthetic leg and he has a similar adaption in his car. His wife (my friend) took it to the garage for servicing, and to cut a long story short she stepped on the wrong pedal and the car shot backwards (it was in reverse), knocked a display car clean off its stand, and then it (the display car) smashed into the showroom window which then fell out ! Luckily and amazingly no one was hurt, my friend was of course dreadfully upset (not to mention embarrassed!) and the story made it into the local newspaper!

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