It happened about 2 weeks ago. Here are the facts:
- Taken photos of the entire scene, including her car (even though it was already parked) and my car, so that the relative positions would be recorded.
- Tried to get either a witness (if anyone saw it, though I don't think anyone did) or at least another independent person, even if he or she did not observe the accident. That third person could later corroborate the circumstances of the aftermath, such as the relative position of the vehicles, and the description of the events as each side understood them immediately after the accident.
- Insisted that the teenage girl call her mother right there on the spot, so we could both speak to her mother together, and so the girl could describe the events to her mother in my presence. That way, I would have had a chance to correct any misconceptions or gaps while on the scene, with every detail as fresh as it could be.
- I should have checked and made photos of the damage on the girl's car.
- I should have gotten her mother's insurance information (just in case, though my own insurance company was later able to track down her insurance company by doing a 'plate search').
- Potentially, I could have called the police - though I am still not sure I would do that, since it was such a small fender-bender, and originally I was expecting to settle outside of insurance.
Ontario has a "no-fault" car insurance system. But this doesn't mean that no one is at-fault in an accident. "No-fault" insurance means that if you are injured or your car is damaged in an accident, then you deal with your own insurance company, regardless of who is at-fault. You don't have to go after the at-fault driver for compensation.Huge Repair Bill
Our assigned assessor sent us to a repair place to evaluate the damage. Wake-up call: the total bill for repairs was $1300 plus a 5-day loaner, as our car would have to stay in the shop. Most of the cost was not due to the tail light. Turns out it's really expensive to repair the small "ding" next to the tail light on the "quarter sheet".
- No matter how apologetic people are at the scene of the accident, don't assume the sentiment of responsibility will last. Don't assume they will agree to pay for their own mistakes.
- Protect yourself by getting as much objective evidence as possible right at the scene.
- If possible, record the admissions of the party at fault.
- Get witnesses, even if they didn't observe the accident itself.
- Take photos and videos.
- Get all the paperwork information you can, including: insurance information, license place, and make and model of the car.