Sunday 6/13/10, I was involved in an accident on the northern Gulf beach road, 30 kilometers east of Progreso. I’m not going into the details of the accident except to say that both drivers thought it was the fault of the other. I had insurance, Cesar didn’t.
Just after the impact, Cesar approached my car, and shouted in perfect English, “Why the fuck didn’t you look? What the fuck is wrong with you? You’re going to fucking pay for this.” Then he waved his tattoed arms around, shaking his fists at me. I yelled at him to get away from my car, which he did. He didn’t seem concerned about whether I’d been injured. A passing driver called the State Police.
The police came. My insurance guy came. My personal support team came. Cesar’s family arrived.
My support team, including the insurance agent, suggested I let it go and admit fault. My agent would go ahead and make a deal with Cesar. However, since I was still a bit out of of it, and because I didn’t understand the issues clearly, I refused. I was a jerk to do that, as it turned out. My insurance was paying his damage anyway, whether I was right or wrong. I just “knew” I was right and besides, I didn’t like Cesar very much. But he didn’t have insurance and I did. (It is NOT the law here that you have to have auto insurance).
The police captain explained a law that I wasn’t aware of, and I don’t think too many people are. Let’s see if I can get this right. When you are going to make a left turn on a highway, you have to pull all the way over to the right shoulder – off the roadway – and come to a full stop. Then you put on your left turn signal and look in the mirrors. If all is well, you make your left turn. In this I was deficient. I did use my directional and I did look in my mirrors, but I failed to pull off the highway and come to a full stop. So I am guilty of negligent driving. I got a ticket.
So the police took everything and everyone into custody. Both cars were impounded. Cesar and I were put into a police car, no family allowed, and driven to the police station in downtown Merida on Calle 72, where we were fingerprinted, breathalyzed, and had a urine test. The worst indignity was having to do the urine sample with the door open, under the watchful eye of a female officer. Then we got locked in a room, discreetly called “Salon de Espera.” Locked. Couldn’t get out, my friends couldn’t come in. However, they could talk to me through a small window.
We were in there a long time. Fortunately, I had my Kindle reader and a thermos of iced tea. I was reading, The Murderer’s Daughters, which is pretty good and excellent entertainment in a jail containment area.
Finally, we were let out and (separately) asked to sign copies of the police report, which included a diagram of what happened. I didn’t agree with the drawing. Oh my, I was still being a jerk. I hadn’t caught on yet, I really wish I signed and it would have been over with then, but nooooo.
Since the issue wasn’t resolved, I later realized that the police had the option of locking me (and Cesar) up in jail until it was settled, but they released me TO MY HUSBAND’S CUSTODY, no kidding.
I borrowed a broken down but wonderful van from the other Yucatan Yenta for our extensive errands the next day.
The next morning, we saw the insurance company lawyer in his office. By then I’d cooled down and agreed to admit to anything – just make this go away – but it was too late. The case had been bumped up to the Ministerio Publico, in that huge white building on the Periferico. The lawyer made a lot of calls, but we had to now continue with the process.He told me to get a notarized translation of our auto registration, another interesting and time-consuming experience.
There are no more pictures from here on because I was not in the mood to take them. It was all I could do to drag myself from one place to the next.
Yesterday, three days after the accident, Jim and I met the lawyer at the Ministerio Publico at 9:30 a.m.
Now if you’ve never been to the Ministerio Publico, or the Procuradoria, be prepared to be impressed and somewhat cowed. The very size and structure of the place demands good, reasonable behavior. God knows, it worked with me. I was an absolute lamb.
At the MP, they separately processed me and Cesar so we wouldn’t have to be in the same room. I thought that was thoughtful and wise. Everyone was amiable, but the process took hours. Another long report got generated which we all signed many times, including my husband, because the car is in his name. Cesar apparently signed an agreement saying he would accept compensation from my insurance company. That ended the legal case, so the only thing left was to get our car out of impound. But wait, there’s more.
We made lots of copies of things and were to take certain official signed papers to the “Corralon,” or car prison, on Jacinto Canek. By now our packet of documents, and the copies, was growing substantially. We had to go to four manila folders.
I found it interesting that I was not allowed to have a copy of the police report or the MP report, even though I had signed them. The lawyer was allowed access, but was not to share them with me.
Okay, so now we have the freedom papers for our car, the legal case has been resolved, all we have to do is go to the car impound, present the papers, and have our car towed to the shop. Right? Wrong.
For whatever reason, our car had been towed from the highway by a federal police tow truck, so the State corralon brusquely said they didn’t have our car. They directed us to the Federal Police. We drove from Jacinto Canek (near the Periferico) to the Federal Police near the airport. A VERY nice lady, who told us they had had no record of any of what had happened, including the tow, made some calls for us and discovered that our car was in a sort of branch corralon on the outskirts of town. She said to to go back to the main corralon, where we we had just been. We told her we’d already been there and she suggested we try the State Police station back in town, on 72. We went there. By this time, we were hot and tired and barely verbal. I asked Jim whether he still loved me.
These officers went to some trouble to locate the car and called back the supervisor of the corralon. We schlepped back out to J. Canek armed with the name of the supervisor, thanks to the State Police. The corralon reluctantly and slowly went through an extended process and gave us a piece of paper saying our tow company should just go there with this paper and pick up the car. It was out near Altabrisa somewhere and was actually a private tow yard. We had to pay the corralon $370 p for my infraction.
By now it was about 4 p.m. and awfully hot. We were both a bit worn down.
Deciding to play it on the safe side, we went directly to our mechanic with the papers. They called a tow, and Jim decided he’d ride up with them to get the car. I went home. Poor Jim. An hour or so later, he called to tell me that this tow branch corralon was demanding 3,000 p to release the car. Too tired to even question anything at this point, he paid and an hour later towed our wreck into our mechanic’s shop.
So it is is over. Except for the repair.
If you are sitting in a parked car and someone hits you and they say it’s your fault, just mumble and agree and sign the forms. If you are driving through a green light and someone runs the red light and smashes into you, do likewise. No vale la pena.