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Best excuses to get out of paying for collision damage

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
So here's the deal. I got into a car accident about two weeks ago. I was waiting to make a turn when a car pulls up behind me and decides to pass me by taking the path through my right bumper as opposed to the more traditional route around me. The driver pulls up next to me and we look at each other, I signal her to pull over, and she drives off full speed, crosses a double line in the face of traffic, and turns into a side street.

The damage to my car was a pretty deep scratch in my bumper's metal and then paint scratched off the metal thing over the wheel. Doesn't stop me from driving, but not cheap to fix.

I got her number, called the cops, one comes over and takes a look at my car, takes down my info and the other car's license plate. I went to the PD a few days later and filled out a crash report.

So it's 2 weeks later and I get a letter about how "truely sorry" the woman is "for this terrible inconvience." I call the number and she sounds fake-sick (and even faker-nice). I tell her the costs, which are a hair over $1000 (the bumper's expensive). So I tell her I need the check this Wednesday -- if I don't get it, I'll just call her insurance.

And now, for the part you've been waiting for... the problems with me getting the money to repair my car:

1. "I lost my job and so now I'm on social security..."
2. "I need to take care of my baby and it's really expensive..."
3. "I actually just canceled my insurance 3 days before the accident so I don't think they'd want to pay... I actually wasn't supposed to be driving the car at all..."
4. "The cop came to my house and told me you're a college student and that you seemed really nice and we could just talk this over..."
5. "I know you probably don't care, but I got told I got cancer just a couple days before the crash so I had a lot to deal with..."

I bet it really is hard for her to find $1000 to pay and I sympathize with her problems -- whichever ones are real. But how am I supposed to trust her when she fled the scene and didn't come forward until a cop knocked on her door? And now I get the feeling that there's no way she's going to pay me. Assuming she doesn't pay and the insurance story checks out -- what's next? Do I have to get a lawyer and take her to court?
post #2 of 39
Get a lawyer, take her to court.

You need to adopt the attitude which she adopted at the time of the accident, which is essentially:

Screw everyone else!

If this wasn't her general attitude why would she have:

a. driven with callous disregard toward everyone else

and then

b. driven off after having caused damage to your car?

So now, you need to take care of number one.

Screw her, she has every bit of it coming.
post #3 of 39
I'm not overtly familiar with the process, but I don't believe you even need a lawyer to take her to small claims court. Just make sure you keep all your paperwork, and proceed.

That being said, even if the court rules in your favor, odds are she's not going to pay. Sorry to hear about that, it really sucks.
post #4 of 39
File a claim with your insurance company. Let them pursue her.
post #5 of 39
If she's deemed at fault, won't your insurance company pay for the repairs and chase her insurance company or her for the money? As long as she's deemed at fault (in the police/accident report) then there shouldn't be any insurance premium ramifications to you. That's the way it works here, but then again, different States and Provinces have different rules I imagine.
post #6 of 39
Originally Posted by mbriant View Post
If she's deemed at fault, won't your insurance company pay for the repairs and chase her insurance company or her for the money? As long as she's deemed at fault (in the police/accident report) then there shouldn't be any insurance premium ramifications to you. That's the way it works here, but then again, different States and Provinces have different rules I imagine.
not everyone has insurance...
i have insurance so i dont have to deal with the BULLNUTS being spiewed in this thread.

you pay to have insurance right? file a claim. insurance companies are MUCH better at getting money out of people who owe than you. if you seem to be especially good with a wiffle-ball-bat, at least they are legal
post #7 of 39
Push the police on this deal. They can be your ace in the hole. They should have issued her a ticket for leaving the scene of an accident, and another one for driving without insurance. Find out what is happening with the crash report (probably nothing if you are not pushing them in any way). Tell them that what you really want is to ensure that she pays you to get your car fixed. It doesn't matter to you one way or another if they issue her any tickets, but if you can get one cop to listen to your story and take an interest, he can easily go find her and threaten her with issuing the tickets if she doesn't pay you within a week. This isn't protocol by any means, but if you catch the right person, they will know exactly how to twist her arm.

In the meantime, you also threaten to sue her, tell her that you're hiring a lawyer, and even better yet, get a lawyer to write a threatening letter to her. Preferably someone you know well and will do it for you as a favor or at little cost. The idea with a person like her is to threaten her. Yes, her life is a mess, but now yours sort of is as well as a result of hers.

If you have to, hire a lawyer and file suit, but that gets into more money than it's worth for a $1,000 claim. Plus, there is the waste of your time and the delays, etc. If you can make her want to pee her pants with fear in the next week, you'll probably get your money and be done with her. If not, you're in for more drama than it's worth.

Oddly enough, the same thing happened to me several years ago in Cayman. I'm pretty sure I described the incident here at the time. This kid about 18 years old overtakes another car (as it turns out, his buddy, who he was racing) and then slams into the back of my big hard bumpered Mercedes 560 SEL (an older car, built like a tank). Instead of stopping, he tries to run, and I chased him down for about a mile, zigging and zagging through side streets, until I had him cornered. He gets out and offers me $200. Ya, right. That wouldn't even cover the paint. (As it turned out it was also a $1,000 claim.) I tell him no and that we need to call the cops, so he runs back to his car and takes off again!

I chased him down a second time at dangerous speeds on very narrow and poorly paved winding roads (Island style), catch him again, where he abandons his car and runs. This was at his mom and step dad's house, and they were both plastered drunk, claiming that the kid had stolen their car. The cops knew the kid, tracked him down the next day, and the case goes to court. I waste a bunch of time making appearances, he's sent to jail for 6 weeks for driving on a suspended liscence and without insurance and ordered to pay the $1,000 (on my behalf) to the court.

To this day (about 7 years later), I've yet to see a dime. Whether he ever paid the court, I don't know. I forgot about it for a year or so, and by the time I followed up, nobody in the court system or police station had a clue.

Lesson learned: when dealing with losers, you lose, unless you can win from day one with the fear factor. I should have used the police officers as my bait and had them threaten to charge him for everything instead of actually charging him. After I was paid, they could have done what they wanted to do with him. But they had me convinced that I'd get my money AND justice would be served. Wrong! It slipped through the cracks.
post #8 of 39
Um, isn't this what insurance is for?

You forgot that if she has insurance and she is deemed at fault (it's illegal to drive without insurance), you will get your money rapidly without it affecting your policy.

Just contact her insurance company.

post #9 of 39
No offense intended to the OP, but there is a reason why we in CT (and AFAIK throughout New England) have the term "MassHoles".

If there's a Mass plate on the car, stay as far away as possible.
post #10 of 39
Originally Posted by Febs View Post
File a claim with your insurance company. Let them pursue her.
x2 that's what insurance is for
post #11 of 39
Isn't it illegal in Mass not to have insurance?
post #12 of 39
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice everyone (especially Wayne). The cops don't seem to care much, so I'll stop by her place Monday instead of waiting for a check that won't come, then I'll call her insurance company. If she's telling the truth, then I'll call the cops and push them on it. But again, I'm not so sure they're sympathetic to my case. Apparently the cop had told her it was only about $150-200 worth of damage... though with a damage estimate I should think it'll be easier.

Okay, thanks again guys.
post #13 of 39
Those are amazingly unoriginal excuses. I'm just repeating what others are saying - don't most states require you to have insurance so let them go after her insurance/her. And why should your policy be affected if it's not your fault (none of my accidents have)? By the way aren't the police charging her with feeing the scene no matter what you do (I'm less sure about this)?
post #14 of 39
Thread Starter 
It is illegal to drive without insurance, but again, I'm not sure that she doesn't have coverage. It somehow only came up when I said that if $1000 is too much for her, then I'll go through insurance. I do have insurance but it doesn't cover collision damage. I called my insurance co. half an hour after I talked to the cop and they took down what I said. Then I got a letter a few days later saying that because I didn't have collision insurance, they won't pay for anything.

So I'll have to try to go through her company if she doesn't pay up.
post #15 of 39
Ugh. I went through something similar a couple years ago. Some SUV-driving idiot clipped my passenger rear during an illegal pass then refused to stop. I got her plate and promptly took it to the police. I filed a hit-and-run, got her rear-end arrested, and filed an uninsured driver claim with my insurance company.

If the cops refuse to go after this person for a hit-and-run, crank up the political pressure. Talk to your mayor, city council, state rep, etc., and CC the chief of police on all your correspondence. You should get noticed. Make a pest of yourself with the local DA, as well. If they refuse to prosecute, go after the politicos, as well. They control the funding of the police department and prosecutor, so they don't like it when someone gives them a reason to screw with their budget. Hit-and-run is a felony in a lot of places and you should beat them (metaphorically) for not prosecuting.

Be sure to file an accident report with the DMV. It'll take them a few months, but eventually they'll realize the other driver didn't have insurance and will suspend her license, etc.

The claim, if your insurance company doesn't pay an uninsured driver claim, should go through small claims. You won't need a lawyer for that, but be sure to document everything, take pictures, have estimates, etc. The judge will want to see all of that. Try to get at least 2-3 estimates, as well. You'll look diligent.

As for the woman? If she had stopped and done the right thing, you might want to cut her a break. But she did the wrong thing, ran, and now is trying to weasel out of it. Screw that. Let her suffer the consequences. And if you get the judgment, you can at least put a lien on her car and/or other property and force a judicial sale. Most people "somehow" find the money to pay before that happens, though. She's already been dishonest with you, there's no need to cut her a break.
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