Life with a Tesla Part 2 - The Accident
Live with a Tesla Part 1 - Delivery
Five days after I got my brand new Tesla, I got rear ended on the highway.
I have been working from home for the last couple of years at my job. However, my mom was recovering from surgery so instead of working from home, I spent most days for several months commuting to my mom's house to work from there to help her if need be as she recovered from surgery.
I was making my morning commute to mom's house down the highway in morning rush hour traffic. I had only had the car for a few days, so driving on the highway in rush hour makes me very nervous. I was in the middle lane when suddenly I felt a bump from the rear. I knew instantly what it was.
I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw the car behind me swerving wildly on the highway. Clearly this was the car that just hit me. I pulled over on the side of the road (on the wrong side, stupidly). The woman driving the car that had rear ended me lost control after hitting me briefly. She swerved for a bit but eventually got her car under control. Unfortunately when she started swerving the car behind her plowed right into her. It ended up being a three car accident with me at the front, the car that caused the accident in the middle and another car in the rear.
I stupidly pulled over to the left side of the road as it was the first place I could find to pull over. The other two cars pulled over to the right side of the road. Of course this was on a busy highway so I had no way to get myself or the car across to the right side of the road. The highway patrol ended up having to stop all traffic on the highway for a few minutes so that I could pull my car back onto the highway and move back to the right side. Of course by this point, I was a good half mile or so down the road from the other two cars. The officer insisted that I back my car up on the side of the road so all 3 cars were together. The Tesla has terrible rear visibility and this made me very nervous to be going backwards on the side of the road with cars right next to me coming straight at me. This backing up job didn't go well. I backed up slowly but ended up grazing the railing on the side of the road as I backed up causing additional damage to the right rear of my car. The woman who had hit me had hit the left rear side of the car, so now I had damage to both the left rear and right rear of my brand new, five day old car.
The drivers of the 3 cars all got out and talked to the traffic officer. He got everyone's stories. The woman in the middle admitted to hitting me. She was trying to pass me on the left, but was too close and so grazed the side of my car. The damage to my car didn't look that bad and the car was perfectly drivable, but it was damaged. Her car had some damage but was also drivable. The poor guy in the back plowed head on into her car. The front of his car caved in and that car was probably totaled. After a good hour of this, the traffic office took all out information, issued the woman in the middle a ticket and we all went on our ways.
She was clearly at fault. The traffic officer gave all 3 of us a paper containing contact information for all 3 people involved in the accident as well as their car insurance information. Later that day I called her insurance to report the accident. Of course her insurance company said they had to investigate to determine who was at fault. Um, the police already determined that your customer was at fault. Fix my car! It took her insurance company a week to do their 'investigation' but ultimately they admitted fault. I was told to find a body shop, give them the information and the insurance company would take care of the costs for repair and a car rental.
I found a good body shop that specialized in Tesla repairs in the area. I took my car there and they inspected the car. They made an estimate of what needed to be repaired. Unfortunately, since this is a Tesla, the only parts they can order are from Tesla, so it would take 3 weeks to order the parts. Contracts were signed, and parts were ordered. I drove my brand new, dented Tesla home.
Three weeks later I brought the Tesla back to the body shop to fix it. By this point, I'd had a brand new Tesla that I drove for 5 days and a dented brand new Tesla that I drove for a month! Most of the time I'd been driving my Tesla, it was a dented, ugly thing. The repairs were estimated at $11,000 dollars. It took an additional 3 weeks to fix the car. In the meantime, they gave me a rental Toyota Camry to drive. It was a decent car, but only had 4 cylinders, so it was nowhere equal to the Tesla, which has amazing acceleration. Oh well. Yes, I still had my old gas-powered Lexus that I could have driven in the meantime, but that was a 10 year old car and dammit, she wrecked my car, so I'm going to make her pay for a rental too! :)
Three and a half weeks later, I finally get my fixed Tesla back. It looked great. The body shop did an excellent job fixing it. Unfortunately since I had caused the damage on the right side of the car grazing the railing when backing up on the side of the road, the insurance didn't pay for that so I had to pay almost $1,000 out of pocket to fix that. The other $11,000 in repairs was paid for by her insurance.
I had been checking in on my car while it was in the body shop. The Tesla app shows you on a map exactly where your car is located at all times, and even has a way to view the cameras on the car remotely. I thought I would be able to spy on the repair shop as they fixed my car. That turned out not to be true. When a Tesla is being repaired, it is put in Service Mode. This limits the speed the car can be driven at, and also disables most of the functionality in the Tesla app. All I could do was see where the car was on a map, how much charge it had, and which doors, hood etc. were open.
I had dropped off the car with a mostly full charge, but when I picked it up the large was very low. I complained that the car should have been recharged before I picked it up. The body shop explained that normally they do, but their EV charger stations were not working due to some repairs. They offered to drive my car to a nearby Supercharger and charge it for me for free. I agreed. It turns out that if you use a Tesla Supercharger, it's not free. It charges your credit card for the cost of the charging. This was about $20 worth of a charge. They offered to discount my repair by that $20 to offset the charge that was on my credit card. I agreed. They ended up taking $30 off the cost for that $20 charge, so I even saved a bit there. All in all, I was very happy with the work of the body shop. I had to go back the next day to the body shop to get a few minor things fixed, but they did that right away, no problem.
A few months ago, I got a subpoena to appear in court as a witness for the traffic ticket for the lady who caused the accident. Of course this court date ended up being the same day as Hurricane Ian was due to hit the area, so that court date got cancelled.
The court date got rescheduled to a month or so later. I went to the traffic court appointment. If you've ever been to traffic court, you know how it is. It's a big court room with dozens of people in it and a lot of police officers. They then run through dozens of traffic ticket cases at once. Each ticket lasts maybe a minute or two in front of the judge. The police officer who gives the ticket also has to show up to give their side of the story. After an hour of sitting, watching other cases go through, they called my name. I was the only one involved in the accident to show up. The police officer never showed up, and neither of the other two people in the accident showed up. The judge asked me a few questions regarding the accident which I answered. The woman who hit me ended up with a $175 fine. I was a bit annoyed with this considering the damage she caused to my car, and the money it ended up costing me out of pocket, but that's it. I think had I NOT shown up the case would have been thrown out, so by my appearing, at least she had to pay $175. That's better than nothing I suppose.