What Happens If Someone Is In An Accident With An Inanimate Object?

What happens if someone is in an accident with an inanimate object? Running into a tree, a garbage can, another car, a bicycle, a pedestrian or just losing control and rolling over in the middle of an empty doesn't impact the claim. In insurance lingo, an accident is always just that - an accident - unless it was intenti.

"Generally they are awarded the 'Dummy of the Week award'," declares Clark Jackson, President and CEO of Jackson and Jackson Insurance Agents and Brokers in Glendora, California. "Oh, just kidding! Running into a tree, a garbage can, another car, a bicycle, a pedestrian or just losing control and rolling over in the middle of an empty doesn't impact the claim. In insurance lingo, an accident is always just that - an accident - unless it was intentionally caused. What matters from the standpoint of an insurance claim is the actual extent of the damage done to the vehicle or the injuries experienced by the driver and his or her passengers after the accident occurs."


Just because the object happens to be inanimate, however, doesn't automatically mean that the operator of the motor vehicle was at fault for causing it. "Let's say that a large tree gets uprooted during a windy day and falls right smack on top of your parked car," Jackson illustrates. "Since we know that the tree didn't have a personal vendetta against you or your vehicle, this would most likely result in a claim against the homeowner's policy of the person whose tree did the falling. In the case of a business complex or in a public park setting, the liability policy of the business or local government entity could compensate you for your loss. The procedures for filing a claim are the same ones you would follow if you had been involved with the driver of another car." Once you have reported the details of what happened - and it helps to carry an instant camera in your glove compartment just for that purpose - your insurance company will make the necessary investigation and assess the amount of damage.




It is important to observe the same rules for an accident involving the loss of control of your vehicle or damage caused by an inanimate object as would be the case with an accident involving other motor vehicles. "If the damage is extensive," says Jackson, "then you must call the police and report the accident. Let's assume, for instance, that you are driving in the winter and hit an unexpected stretch of black ice. You lose control of your vehicle, spin a couple of times, and hit a tree. The car is significantly damaged and you are feeling a bit worse for wear as well. This is the kind of accident that must be reported immediately. Let the police call the tow truck for you and also make certain that you do not need medical attention. Report the claim as soon as possible to your insurance agent and follow the same steps as you would with any other accident."

Many claimants make the mistake of simply walking away just because another driver was not involved. Understandably, the embarrassment of hitting a lawn full of pink plastic flamingos or swerving into a ditch to avoid hitting a family of raccoons may not be something you want to disclose but oftentimes vehicular - and human - damage isn't always readily apparent. "It also goes without saying," Jackson adds, "that insurance companies have heard all manner of silly, bizarre, and miraculous accounts of collisions with inanimate objects. Nothing you can say could really surprise them."

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