Friday, August 04, 2006

Hit by an Unlicensed Driver: Advice Needed

About an hour ago on my way home from work, I was rear-ended on the freeway. Earlier, I had noticed the car in back of me weaving aggressively, and I made a mental note to be careful. Unfortunately, there was a slow-down on a curve and BOOM, I got hit in the rear bumper.

After we pulled off the freeway, the driver came up and asked if I was all right. She was very agitated, and kept looking at the damage on her car. Fortunately, there wasn't a lot of damage to my car, but the back bumper piece had a huge dent in it and was hanging off the car.

"I don't have a license," she told me. She told me that she had to go before the police came. She said that it wasn't her car, and gave me the name and phone number of the owner. "Call him right now," she said. Then she got in her car and peeled out of there like a bat out of hell.

I've never been in an accident before, so I called my insurance company to make sure I didn't have to call the police to come to the scene. They said I didn't, and I started to file a report. I wanted to get off the side of the freeway, so I told the insurance company I'd finish the report later, but I haven't told them the name of the owner or license plate number of the car yet.

My question is what should I do when I call the owner? I don't know if he even has insurance, and I imagine he'll want to take care of it off the books (assuming he actually exists). Judging from the appearance of the woman who hit me, they might not even have enough money to pay for the repairs.

Should I just go through my insurance company? I can't imagine that she could get in trouble for driving without a license from just my report. Should I decline any offers by him to take care of it himself, since he probably doesn't have the resources or the intention to pay me?

Why oh why couldn't I have been hit by a Lexus?


Ann said...

When I got hit once, by someone who didn't stop, the license plate had been stolen from another car and the driver was drunk. She SAID she wasn't drunk, but "I only did three shots" (at 10:00 a.m.), plus failing the breathalyzer, would indicate to me that she was indeed drunk.

The only reason she was caught was because a couple of guys chased her down and blocked her in at a corner when she tried to run a red light. When the police showed up the Knights in Shining Armor told them what had happened.

Call your insurance company. Tell them EVERYTHING. THEN call the "owner." Call me a cynic, but it would be my guess that they're going to deny everything.

You should have called the cops.

Charity hath no place in road encounters.

Ann said...

P.S. If I am right - I hope I'm wrong - and they deny everything, call the police. They can do stuff like paint matching.

Capt Jack said...

Ann is right--given those circumstances: being hit by someone with no integrity whatsoever, you should have called the police. These days, unless someone is drunk or driving without a license all the police do is file a report. Which is all you need, really, and it can go a long way to help protect you if the other driver comes back and tries to blame you for additional damages and injuries.

But hey, hindsight is 20/20. And it's not too late to call the cops and give them the info she gave you.

davismx1 said...

do you have full coverage on your car? or at least uninsured motorist coverage?

i'm assuming you have the make, model and license plate #? then you should be okay. like ann said, just tell the insurance company everything, and ask them if you need to file a police report. if you do, then tell the police the whole story.

i was hit on my motorcycle a few years ago and only had liability. i thought i had uninsured motorist coverage, but i was mistaken. and of course they had no coverage. i took the people to small claims court and won, but fat chance of ever seeing the $4,000 they owe me in this lifetime.

m said...

sorry, that last one was me, m, your unfaithful co-blogger.

Stephen said...

Call your insurance company. Tell them EVERYTHING. THEN call the "owner." Call me a cynic, but it would be my guess that they're going to deny everything.


btw, in most states, if you get a judgment against an uninsured motorist and they don't pay it, you can report them and have their driver's license yanked or blocked.

Just FYI. That is often enough to push them to pay the money, or a good part of it or at least start making payments.

NFlanders said...

Thanks for the advice, everyone. I really appreciate it. You'd think I'd have enough life experience by now to deal with something like this, but it was my first accident.

I called my insurance company and made a full report. They told me it was my responsibility to file a claim with his insurance company, and if I wasn't satisfied with the outcome they would take it up for me but I'd be out the $500 deductible until they could recover it (i.e. never).

So I called the guy and met up with him (he wanted to photograph the damage) and he says he'll pay for the repairs. Fortunately, there isn't a lot of damage, because I don't think this guy can afford it.

All I know is that I'm not taking a personal check!

Guy Murray said...

Ned Flanders,

I would:

1. Find out if the other driver has insurance, by obtaining the name, address, telephone number and policy number of that insurance company;

2. Call that company and confirm converage for this accident and the other auto;

3. If the other driver does not have insurance, immediately make the claim through your own insurance;

4. DO NOT under any circumstance agree to settle it around the other driver's insurance company;

5. If the other driver did not have insurance, determine from your own insurance whether a police report might have to be filed. If one does, you can go file a supplemental or subsequent report on your own to the appropriate law enforcement agency;

6. If you believe you were injured, do go treat with a doctor or an emergency room if necessary, just to make certain you don't have any serious injury;

7. Whether the other driver is unlicensed is really irrelevant to the above steps--you should do them whether the other driver was licensed or not.

I think that's about all I can think of at this point.

Good Luck

annegb said...

dude. you're screwed.

been there, done that. no lie.

Anonymous said...

Be aware,

Even minor damage to a bumper can be worse than it looks. Usually, these things are filled with specially molded foam. One dent changes the shape of the foam and can actually degrade the shock-absorbtion qualities of the bumper by quite a lot.

You know how you're supposed to throw a bike helmet in the garbage if you ever take a hard blow with it? If you take another hit with a damaged helmet, it could split in half or something. Same concept with car bumpers.

I'd get an auto mechanic to do an estimate.

Seth R.

Steve EM said...

Glad you nobody was hurt. Call the cops next time, particularly after a crime (hit and run) like that. Sounds like she was drunk, and that's likely why she didn't have a license (past DUI conviction). Hope you get the car repaired to your satifaction without being out-of-pocket, but the most important thing is you're well.

Stephen said...

I hope everything is working out ok.

NFlanders said...

Thanks for the support. I've gotten a couple estimates, and it was a lot more than I thought it would be: $1500.

Seth was right, they have to replace the styrofoam bumper thing and the bumper cover and re-paint everything.

From now on, I'm going to be driving a lot more carefully; if that's how much it costs to repair my crappy car, I hope I never hit an Acura.

NEND said...

#cough#cough# rip off. If I where you, I would look at different repair shops.

Please in the future don't assume some one can't pay because of what they drive or how they look.

I still take out my old childhood car for a spin that I got when I was a kid and it isn't in too good condition. It was in good condition when I got it though, but it has sentimental value to me.

NFlanders said...

You're right, NEND, I shouldn't have made any assumptions about people based on their car. If you could see my car, you'd know that I don't have much to brag about, even without the big dent in the bumper.

I was hoping to drive this one for ten years or so, but it's so bad in the snow, I'm going to trade it in once I get it fixed.