Car Accident My First Experience With Sosua Police

JoanneH

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Feb 1, 2003
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My husband and I moved to Sosua in late October and yesterday I had my first (and hopefully my only!) car accident and I thought posting about my experience might be helpful to any of the DR1 expats who (godforbid!) may have an accident.

At 7:30am I was driving on the road between Sosua and Cabarete headed east towards Cabarete. I stopped to make a left into Breezes and as I turned a driver (who was also headed east) tried to pass me in the westbound lane and smashed into the driver side of my truck. His car bounced off and ended up about 150 feet away in the ditch. I jumped out and so did the 3 Dominican men from the other truck. Luckily, no one was hurt and the Breezes security guys phoned the Police. After about 20 minutes and much discussion between the security guys and the other driver/passengers (in Spanish, of course, and I kicked myself for the 1,000 time for not learning Spanish BEFORE I got to the DR) the police arrived IN A TAXI!

They asked for my insurance, registration and licence (I still only had my Canadian license but will definitely be getting a Dominican one in the next few weeks). They then talked to everyone, except me because my Spanish is useless, and no one spoke any English (at this point I was freaking out, I imagined they would all stick together in some terrible lie, I wouldn?t get to tell my side of the story and I would be stuck for the rest of my life supporting an entire family over some awful personal injury lawsuit. It?s amazing how your imagination runs wild in situations like this.) They then told me ?Police Station Sosua? and everyone, including the Police Officers and the other driver piled into my truck and I drove everybody back to the Sosua Police Station. When we arrived they directed me and the other driver into one of the rooms to wait (and wait and wait) and the officers with my registration and insurance info. left. I was allowed to use the phone in the room. After I called my husband (that call went real well because it was his truck, but that?s another story!) I called DR1?er Escott to ask if he had any advice. He must have heard the panic in my voice and said that his Condo was close by and offered to come to the Police Station.

(As an aside here I would really like to give Scott a huge THANK YOU. My husband and I have only socialized with him once and he willingly spent a couple of hours with us at the Police Station offering moral support and generally talking us down. He is truly an exceptional guy)

After about an hour and ? waiting we were directed to another room by an officer I hadn?t seen before. We all took a seat and he went into the desk in the room and took out a small black bag. I?m not sure what I expected the contents of the bag to be but it definitely wasn?t the disposable razor, shaving cream and mirror that he pulled out! He got up and went down to the tap by the street and shaved! He came back after about 10 minutes (looking very refreshed) and took the other driver's license, insurance and registration and began to write everything in a notebook that had cartoon characters on the front (there was also a notebook with Shakira on it but that was in the desk in the first room so we didn?t get the privilege of getting our info. recorded in that book). A middle aged couple came into the room while the other driver was talking and the lady squeezed the other driver?s arm. It was his parents! Until this point my only thought on the other driver was that I wanted to shake him for being so stupid and reckless and wrecking the truck, but the fact that both of his parents came to the Police Station made me realize that he was probably as distressed as I was. It really touched me that they had come to make sure their son was OK, and it really brought the whole human aspect of the situation back into perspective for me (this was probably just me getting emotional coming off the adrenaline rush from the accident but, hey, whatever works to gain some perspective).

Then it was my turn to give the Officer my information. I assumed he had the registration that I had given to the Officer at Breezes because it was never returned, but of course, he expected me to have the registration because the other guy hadn?t given it to him and he had no idea where the other Officer was. I managed to find a Tourist Police Officer who spoke some English and he said that the 2 original officers were ?gone? and that he would try to find the registration. Thankfully after about 15 minutes (of me getting increasingly nervous and starting to think that maybe I still did want to shake the hell out of the other driver) an officer brought it in. It was now 10am and I called my Spanish teacher who was supposed to be giving me a lesson at my home to come to the police station instead to help me give my statement. He was exactly what the situation called for. He translated my side of the story and ensured that the facts were straight. I signed the page and the officer said that the typed form would be ready next Tuesday when I would pick it up and take it to the municipal offices in Sosua to have it stamped and then send it to my insurance company. He said that usually the form would be ready same day but they were busy because of Holy Week. My Spanish teacher later told me that the other driver was saying that it was my fault and that I should have to pay personally for the damage to his truck. The officer told him that this was not the case and that we would not pay him anything. My insurance company is waiting for the police report but have said that his insurance will likely have to cover all of the damages because of how the accident occurred.

All in all, the entire process seemed quite fair. The officers, although a bit (well alot!) disorganized, were polite and willing to help. Hopefully, in a few weeks I?ll be chalking it all up to experience.
 

philbrick03

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Feb 10, 2004
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Good story

Thanks for this post. In general I've had the same kind of experience. Things are incredibly inefficient, but usually pretty fair UNLESS you have done something really stupid. Then they can get ugly.

I don't think the U.S. system is much better. It is now SOP here for everyone to lie about their injuries and their damage. The result is sky-high insurance rates.
 

Rocky

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JDJones said:
I believe the majority of dominicans feel that no matter what happens in an accident, they truly believe they were doing nothing wrong when they collide with you.
It's not just Dominicans.
The owner of PierGiorgio, an Italian, slammed into my parked 5 ton truck a few years back, and argued that it was my fault because my truck was so big.
I had to have him arrested, as he fled the scene, to make him pay.
 

DominicanScotty

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Rocky said:
It's not just Dominicans.
The owner of PierGiorgio, an Italian, slammed into my parked 5 ton truck a few years back, and argued that it was my fault because my truck was so big.
I had to have him arrested, as he fled the scene, to make him pay.

Marco,

Same here. Quite a few years ago I had a drunken idiot put his truck into the wrong gear and he drove right up onto the hood of my little tiny rental car. After being besieged by a group of Hatians who were related to this guy's "fugly" wife I called my connections. Within 10 minutes they were all led away in cuffs. The agressor, who was the wife's brother, was willing to offer me his nasty crap stained shorts to be let free. Nice heh??? I got stuck paying the deductable because jerky had no insurance.
 

Pib

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Rocky said:
It's not just Dominicans.
The owner of PierGiorgio, an Italian, slammed into my parked 5 ton truck a few years back, and argued that it was my fault because my truck was so big.
I had to have him arrested, as he fled the scene, to make him pay.
Maybe Chiri will tell you the story of when she had an "encounter" with her Belgium "friend". Nothing like I had experienced before! :eek:
 

Gringoloco

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Feb 10, 2005
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DominicanScotty said:
Marco,

Same here. Quite a few years ago I had a drunken idiot put his truck into the wrong gear and he drove right up onto the hood of my little tiny rental car. After being besieged by a group of Hatians who were related to this guy's "fugly" wife I called my connections. Within 10 minutes they were all led away in cuffs. The agressor, who was the wife's brother, was willing to offer me his nasty crap stained shorts to be let free. Nice heh??? I got stuck paying the deductable because jerky had no insurance.
freedom for crap stained shorts is definitely not an even trade.
 

FarOut

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Jul 26, 2004
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@ Joanne

Hi Joanne,
sorry what happened to you and hopefully I never have to experience
something like that too.
It would be really interesting to hear how it turned out in the end and
especial if you will receive some cash from the oter party for the
damage on your car.
 

DominicanScotty

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Gringoloco said:
freedom for crap stained shorts is definitely not an even trade.
Imagine that? The guy was all "balls to the walls" when he thought I was just another tourist. Kept saying "You don't know anybody. Who you gonna call. You don't know sh*t". I wish I had a camera of his "can opener" face when three military officers (not cops) arrived in a brand new car (not a taxi) complete with numerous sets of handcuffs (my request). That he actually pooped his draws. The driver of the truck was so drunk he had no idea what was going on. The officers had to drag him out of the restaurant he escaped into along with his nasty screaming wife who was trying to claim it was my fault that their truck was laying on top of my car.
 

JoanneH

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I'll Post the Outcome

On Tuesday after I pick up the form from the police I'm meeting with my insurance company at their Puerto Plata office. I'll post the outcome and the amount of time it takes to be reimbursed for repairs to the truck (if this is the case). As I understood it my insurance company will pay the bodyshop directly for the repairs and then they are reimbursed by the other driver's insurance, but I could be mistaken.
 

Criss Colon

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I Doubt It Will Be THAT Easy,It NEVER Is!!!

I guess this would be more difficult for a woman,but I have NEVER stoped after an accident that I could drive away from!!!! (They deserve what they get! As you indicated who,s fault it was!)If you feel "guilty" after you leave,get a friend, or even a lawyer if you want, and go to the nearest police station and record YOUR VERSION of what happened! As you found out,the police would rather do anything other than investigate an accident.Sounds like WORK to them!
I have had several accidents,and I drove away from all of them,at a high rate of speed I will inform you! I have no drivers license,and "Seguros Pepin" which is next to nothing!Your insurance company will pay for your damages,as it costs them less than trying to get the other guy's insurance,if he HAS any,to pay.You should have just continued down the road,and gone back to your home a different way.You will see,nothing is going to happen!
"When In Rome"!
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leekirkpatrick

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Mar 9, 2005
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Ahh, auto accidents in the DR.

I've been in two accidents in the DR. One I won't go into. It is sufficient to say I wasn't at fault for hitting the stupid Dominican pedestrian who crossed the road without looking both ways & was fine after a week or two in the hospital.

The other happened in August 2003. I was driving a rental, Nissan Pathfinder with FULL insurance (thank goodness), back from some resort in Puerto Plata on the long highway with sugar cane on both sides before actually arriving in Puerto Plata from like Sosua or Cabarette. We weren't going that fast, maybe 35-40 mph because there was traffic and I was following a BMW. There was a Toyota Camry headed the other way on the other side of the highway when he decided to pass a Cub70 motorscooter. He was about halfway passed the Cub70 when he thought he was too far into our lane and swirved hard back into his lane causing his Camry to fish tail towards the shoulder of the road on his side, or ditch, and then to avoid fishtailing into the ditch, he overcorrected back and sent his Camry right into my front wheel/door & scraped down the length of the Pathfinder until he hit the rear tire of the Pathfinder with a loud BANG. I believe the bang was when the rear axle actually snapped. This caused our Pathfinder to do a 180 or 540 on the highway with our front end in the ditch & our back tires still on the highway facing the wrong way in traffic on our side of the road still. This awkward position caused the Pathfinder to roll onto its side smashing the windows on the driver's side of the Pathfinder. My wife was asleep in the front passenger's seat. In the backseat, my son was behind me (driver), my mother in law in the middle and my daughter behind my wife. With the Pathfinder on its side, driver's side, & knowing the glass was all shattered on that side & knowing my son wasn't wearing his seatbelt & hearing his screams & crying, I thought he was pinned under the Pathfinder & dying. Fortunately, he was not under the Pathfinder. He was crying because my mother-in-law wasn't wearing a seatbelt either & her bodyweight was ontop of him & he had been sleeping and didn't know what the heck was going on now.

The only ones to sustain any injuries in my vehicle were my mother-in-law broke her wrist and I had some cuts from glass on my foot & hand. I don't know how my mother-in-law broke her wrist. She's Dominican so it could have been anything. I got the cuts because I was wearing sandals which didn't stay on my feet during the accident and I was stepping on the glass as I tried to lift the Pathfinder off my son, who I thought was underneath the overturned vehicle. When I couldn't lift the Pathfinder, I stuck my hand in the backseat under all the pillows & blankets and started fishing for his body. I grabbed ahold of his leg and pulled him up and out from under my mother-in-law. He was 4 or 5 at the time. I was relieved he was alright. My daughter had no problems, other than being tramatized by the accident & blood. She wasn't wearing a seatbelt either. My wife only suffered a bruise on her left hip where the seatbelt connection was and which kept her in her seat, otherwise she would have fallen onto me.

The kids were and still are tramatized from seeing the blood pour from my hand & foot. My wife has major difficulties sleeping in the car on trips anymore. My mother-in-law claims she has psychological/emotional damage, but I don't think it is from the accident. :) I'm a little skiddish while driving in the DR now. I drive a lot slower & more responsibly on the DR highways now. I avoid traveling at night, but that is because of the highbeams & not because of the accident as it happened a little after lunch, around 1pm.

A little of me died that day when I thought my son was under the Pathfinder. I realized that day/moment, how much I truly love my kids and now, when I think about the times, before the accident, when I mistreated them or spanked them too hard, I feel really, really, really, really, really...bad and wish I could go back and change those times.

The other driver, ended up on our side of the road about 200 feet down the road in the ditch also, facing the right way, with traffic on our side of the road. Some bystanders threw him into another vehicle & rushed him to the clinic/hospital. I believe he was fine, albeit drunk & responsible for the accident. Some nice Dominicans offered to take us to the clinic to attend to my cuts & my mother-in-laws broken wrist. They threw all our gear into their van, otherwise it would have gotten stolen from our disabled/totalled rented Pathfinder and drove us to the clinic and waited where I got bandaged & then took us back to the resort where we still had friends. My wife (Dominican) and I went with a friend to the police station in Puerto Plata & experienced the same waiting game. The police called a tow truck to pick up our Pathfinder. The police took our statement after waiting several hours. I have to admit it was a Sunday, but I wish it hadn't taken as long as it did. To my knowledge, the police never found the other driver or car. Shortly after the accident, but after we went to the clinic, a friend or family of the other driver picked up his car and hid it in the hills of Puerto Plata, or so we hear. Fortunately, we had full insurance on the rental so we didn't have to pay anything & the rental company gave us another Pathfinder the next day. I didn't think they would give us another vehicle, but they did. Whenever we visit the DR, we always use the same rental company, National in Santiago. They may be a little more expensive, but we get no hassles from them.

I chuckle about the accident now. If we could guarantee the exact same results or better, I'd do the accident again. I'm the only one in my vehicle that actually knows what happened because everyone else was asleep. It was actually fun, now that I know nobody was seriously hurt. :)

Lee
 

Robert

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Wow, that's some story. Glad to see you can look back and laugh :)

As we always say, people that save a few bucks going with a cheap rental company are fooling themselves.
 

Pib

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Robert said:
Wow, that's some story. Glad to see you can look back and laugh :)

As we always say, people that save a few bucks going with a cheap rental company are fooling themselves.
We rented a van from National during our vacations last month. It was nice to hear from them that we were covered with them. One less thing to worry about in your vacation. :classic:



CC, once again we part ways on our approach to life. :cross-eye
 

Chirimoya

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Dec 9, 2002
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Pib said:
Maybe Chiri will tell you the story of when she had an "encounter" with her Belgium "friend". Nothing like I had experienced before! :eek:
Ugh. I have tried to erase that episode from my mind.

I can't recall... What was it that was exceptional?

- Could it have been the fact that he threatened to call his "buddy the General" (TM) to get my car towed away because I'd cracked his little car's light casing? Could it've been the fact that I was not sharp enough to call his bluff? Or, maybe it was the fact that he would not let me move my car to safety - in case I was planning going to do a runner, even though I'd accepted it was my fault?

Nah - the 'best' bit was that he was a foreigner in this country completely wired up to the point of frenzied rage because - as he told me - he knew the score in the jungle and sure as hell wasn't going to let Johnny foreigner get the better of him. The funny thing was, instead of some wily tiguere of a concho driver, he got Ms. Fairplay TooHonestByHalf. There's another word for that, I know. :tired:

The accident was my fault, but, by gawd, what a wanker.