Fire Update -- Guess What? It was totalled!

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by Joekc, Jul 15, 2010.

  1. Joekc

    Joekc Member

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    I thought I would update the thread I started on July 3 (http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-ii-prius-main-forum/82130-our-2008-prius-dies-in-fire.html) since there may be a few people interested in how this finally came out. The other thread had gotten very long, so here goes:

    1. I received what I would call a fair settlement from State Farm. Strangely, I had already negotiated to purchase another 2008 from a forum member for the exact price (to the dollar) that State Farm figured was a fair settlement. I really had no grounds to argue since I had already established what I thought a similar Prius with the same mileage was worth.

    2. My insurance is going up about $100 more a year because of this. The accident is being called a collision, because I hit a mattress in the road. However, if I had hit a deer, that would have been under the comprehensive part of my policy and I would only have paid a $100 deductible instead of the $500 I got nicked for. Go figure. I guess I could argue the car was parked and the engine turned off when it burned, but in fact the fire was going before we got parked, although the car was not yet on fire. This was the first accident I had in my adult life in which I was "at fault" and I'm 63.

    3. I'm still not sure how I could have avoided this. Traffic was moving at 65 mph. I was in the right lane and there were cars on my immediate left so I could not swerve to avoid it, even if I had wanted to. The mattress just appeared from under an SUV ahead of us. Was I maintaining the recommended six car lengths? I'm not sure. The best I could do was brake sharply, but at that speed the stopping distance is more than the length of a football field.

    4. My "new" Prius is sharp! It's a 2008 Touring edition and has been beautifully maintained. It has Katskins leather seats and tinted windows, which really look great on a silver car. I had a satellite radio add-on (not the Toyota one) but this has the Dice iPod adapter. I'm not terribly fond of the Dice unit. It seems slow to respond and I don't quite see the advantage over loading up six CD's with MP3s, but maybe I'll get used to it. I do miss the XM/Sirius radio. I'm getting the Platinum extended warranty transferred to me and my extended warranty on the burned car is being refunded, pro-rated of course.

    [​IMG]

    5. Lessons learned? Life's not fair, but I already knew that. Buy good insurance. An hour after I had made a phone settlement, a State Farm agent came to my house, picked up the title and keys, and handed me a settlement check. From the time I reported the accident to the time I had the money was less than 72 hours. This enabled me to pick up my "new" Prius the next day. Very good service, (although I'm not pleased with being found at fault). I learned there are a lot of used Prii in the Kansas City market, mainly on dealers' lots. I looked at quite a few, but none seemed special. We considered buying a 2010, but the change is kind of jarring, especially in the dash area (buttons galore!) and the 2008 we found was just exceptional. Used Prii seem to be moving very slowly right now, perhaps because of all the bad publicity.

    I also owe a great debt to the folks who stopped to help, at great personal risk. Using one's own fire extinguisher on a burning car while traffic whizzes by a few feet away at 65 mph requires a lot of courage. Thanks to the fine people I never got a chance to thank.

    6. People used to stop me at the gas pump and ask me how I liked my Prius. My response was always that if my Prius were to be wrecked that day, I'd go out and buy one exactly like it. Little did I know I'd be called on to fulfill that somewhat casual pledge. So all's well that ends well. No one was hurt. It could have been a tragic accident at that speed. As much as we love 'em, cars are just piles of easily burned metal and plastic. People are most important . I have to keep remembering that.

    And one other thing: Exploding gas tanks are mostly a movie convention. The fire was so hot it melted the asphalt under the rear of the car, but no gas spilled or exploded. But it still looks cool in the cinema.

    For anyone interested here is a complete album of the fire and damage:

    Picasa Web Albums - Joe - Fire
     
    11 people like this.
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    sounds like you got burned by state farm too. (sorry, couldn't help myself). i thought they were better than that. congrats on the new wheels, goota love the 08's!:D
     
  3. roverguy78

    roverguy78 Elite Lurking Member

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    Congrats on the '08 Touring! Looks sharp.

    Thanks to your posting, quite a few people will be more vigilant about unexpected road hazards like that mattress. I know I certainly will be!
     
  4. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Who recommends only six car lengths?

    Legal minimum here -- not that it is obeyed -- is 1 car length per 10 mph, but a car length is also defined as 20 feet, much longer than any normal car in my driving lifetime. By this law, 65 mph requires 130 feet, nearly 9 Prius lengths. The recommended minimum of two seconds equals 13 Prius lengths.

    You couldn't swerve left. Was the shoulder too narrow or obstructed to drive around it on the right?

    If your stopping distance at 65 mph is over 300 feet, get your brakes fixed or tires replaced Pronto. I'm seeing a published test result of 176 feet at 70 mph.

    All that said, I still believe that some obstacles are best hit squarely, slowing substantially but without swerving and without setting yourself up for a hard read-ender. This is how the car is best equipped to protect you. Insurance and the letter of the law may not agree, but most of the driving public has thumbed their noses at both and accepted a number of comprises between theoretical safety and economic and social reality. Drivers who refuse these compromises are often blasted for impeding traffic, thus facing other hazards.

    Just pay up on the higher deductible and premiums and be glad this has cost only money.
     
  5. Joekc

    Joekc Member

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    I didn't define a car length, but thanks for doing the math. I always try to maintain a safe distance, obviously more than 60 feet, but in very heavy traffic that becomes difficult. I'm not making excuses here (am I?) but if I slow to maintain a reasonable distance I can bet someone will cut in front of me, thus immediately making a really dangerous following distance. I'm not sure how it is in your area, but that's the reality here.

    Could I have swerved onto the shoulder as you suggest? Emphatically, no. We were on a curve and the shoulder was fairly narrow with a sharp dropoff into weeds/grass. People who try to yank their cars around at high speeds usually end up killing themselves or someone else. Inexperienced drivers are prone to this.

    I'm not sure where you get your braking numbers. You wouldn't be using test track, controlled condition numbers, would you? These are useful for comparing vehicle stopping distances, but don't begin to tell one how they should stop their car. Since the cars behind me are travelling 92 feet per second, would it really be safe to stop my car in 176 feet? There are any number of stopping distance calculators on the web and (depending on certain variables) they show an expected stopping distance of around 300 feet or more at 65 mph.

    "All that said, I still believe that some obstacles are best hit squarely, slowing substantially but without swerving and without setting yourself up for a hard read-ender. This is how the car is best equipped to protect you."

    Yes, that's what I actually did.:)
     
  6. 2009Prius

    2009Prius A Wimpy DIYer

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    Glad to know that no one was hurt and the OP was able to afford the higher premium and also got a satisfactory replacement. The insurance company's policy does seem inconsistent and unfair though.
     
  7. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Glad the OP got a replacement Prius that looks wonderful, and a fair insurance settlement.

    I believe that the general rule is that a given driver is responsible not to hit objects in front of the vehicle. Therefore you need to maintain a distance that allows you to stop (regardless of whether other drivers are then tempted to cut into the lane in front of you), or else run the risk of being found liable in the event of an accident.

    As a practical matter, if the OP had been able to stop, the driver behind the OP would likely have rear-ended the OP's car, with significant adverse impact to the OP's and his wife's health. It seems that the incident turned out as well as could be expected if the jerk who dropped the mattress on the highway could not be identified and held accountable for creating a driving hazard.

    State Farm is offering a break by counting an impact with a deer as a comprehensive incident rather than collision. They could reasonably say that you as the driver are responsible for looking out for and avoiding all obstacles in front of you including fauna.
     
  8. Joekc

    Joekc Member

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    Actually my agent told me I'm only being assessed because they paid out more than $750 on the claim. If they had caught the guy who dropped the load, his insurance would have paid and I would have been out nothing. So my rates going up have nothing to do with my driving, only with the fact they couldn't catch the guy who was responsible for causing the accident.
     
  9. 2009Prius

    2009Prius A Wimpy DIYer

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    This is very strange indeed. :confused:
     
  10. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Well, this makes sense. If the insurance company can collect from another carrier, then they won't "charge your account" for the accident. If they are forced to pay for the claim, then they will impose financial consequences.

    Hopefully the $100 extra insurance annual premium will be assessed for only a six year period, if no other "at-fault" incidents occur.
     
  11. JimN

    JimN Let the games begin!

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    With all due respect, the vehicles behind you didn't pile up on your deck so somehow they managed to keep a safe distance from you. The bottom line is that if one can't stop in the distance one can see then one is going too fast.

    Inflate your tires to max sidewall pressure so the tread will stay on the pavement the next time a violent maneuver is executed.

    Sign up for the AAA driver improvement program for a 3 year insurance discount.

    Sign up for the AAA advanced driver training where police instructors teach you how to drive your car to avoid collisions.
     
  12. Joekc

    Joekc Member

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    With all due respect, the vehicles behind me didn't pile up on my deck because I kept moving, only stopping when I could safely pull over. The mattress was stopped on the road -- it fell off a car in front of me. Get it? (Why is it when people say "With all due respect" they mean no respect at all?)
     
  13. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    you got that right! and why do they add h to imo? nothing humble about it.:rockon:
     
  14. roverguy78

    roverguy78 Elite Lurking Member

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    I always get a kick out of people that enjoy stating what should have been done in a situation, all the while comfortably sitting at their desk relaxing with plenty of time to evaluate the entire scenario.
     
  15. Flaninacupboard

    Flaninacupboard Senior Member

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    I'd be collecting the pieces of mattress, finding someone willing to do DNA testing, and go after the kids parents. 100% says the parents or family are in the criminal database. Sue to recover your costs, and get a nice national story from it. it may stop some other complete dick either flytipping or carrying an unsecured load - if the matress had killed you or your wife then i'm sure the police would have tried to find it's owner, why do they get away with it just because you were fortunate enough not to be harmed?
     
  16. pdhenry

    pdhenry It's HEEERE!

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    All that to avoid a $100 per year assessment?
     
  17. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    Well it sounds like you have moved on from this incident. I'll just say your "New" Prius looks great.
     
  18. Flaninacupboard

    Flaninacupboard Senior Member

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    No, all of that to ensure the person who could have easily committed manslaughter is punished in at least some way.
     
  19. jburns

    jburns Senior Senior Member

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    Big difference between the car in front of you suddenly slowing down and something suddenly appearing in the road that is not moving at all. I agree you will be held responsible if you hit something from behind. It also sometimes isn't a fair outcome. In any case everyone sometimes overdrives their vision. Luckily most times we get away with it.
     
  20. randyb359

    randyb359 Member

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    only one:) I always try to maintain 2 seconds however there are many times were it just is not possible.
     
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