Police help out when insurance company blames wrong driver

A distant accident causes local consternation

Staff Writer
Friday, January 05, 2018

HADLEY — Hadley resident Misako Gjertson has never been to Malden and until this week wouldn’t have been able to identify its location on a map.

“I don’t even know where Malden, Massachusetts, is,” Gjertson said.

But that didn’t stop another driver’s insurance company from identifying Gjertson as being responsible for a hit-and-run crash in a restaurant parking lot in the Middlesex County city on Dec. 20 at 11:30 a.m.

On Tuesday, Gjertson received a letter informing her that she backed into another vehicle in Malden, causing substantial damage.

Thankfully for Gjertson, the Hadley Police Department has helped her resolve what she initially thought was a scam, reducing the stress caused by the apparent mistaken identity.

Sgt. Mitchell Kuc said in an email that Gjertson has nothing left to worry about. He has spoken to both the insurance adjuster and Malden Police.

“This has been fully documented by our agency and in the event she is ever contacted in regards to this, she can simply contact our agency and we will assist her,” Kuc said.

Gjertson speculates that the victim of the crash may have provided only limited details about what happened, including only a portion of a license plate number that happened to match part of hers.

“They got a partial number, not the whole number,” Gjertson said. “This person didn’t get the full plate number.”

Kuc confirmed this was likely the case. In speaking to the insurance company’s adjuster, he learned that a partial license plate number was obtained, along with a description of the vehicle, from a witness and surveillance cameras.

But he told the claim office for the insurance company that all evidence indicates Gjertson had no role in the crash, with no family or business connections that would have brought her there.

At the time the accident supposedly happened, Gjertson said she was at her residence waiting for her son Niels to arrive from San Francisco.

“I had nothing to do with it. I was home preparing Christmas bread,” Gjertson said.

After she contacted Hadley Police, Kuc came to her home to both look at and then take a photo of her 2008 Prius.

“I asked, ‘Can you see damage to my car?’ He said ‘no,’” Gjertson said.

Kuc said he checked beforehand whether his observations would be enough to prove Gjertson’s innocence.

“I asked the adjuster if photos of the vehicle would be sufficient to settle the matter, and they said if the vehicle was undamaged that the claim would be dropped,” Kuc said. “The vehicle was found to be undamaged with no indications that it had recent repairs to the body, and photographs were sent to the adjuster.”

Gjertson said she is appreciative for the assistance she received from Hadley law enforcement, especially during the holidays.

“I am so grateful the police help townspeople,” Gjertson said. “The police department is so great.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.