Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

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ssquared87
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Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by ssquared87 » Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:12 pm

Walked out of my apartment to find my front bumper scuffed up and a not on my windscreen. Most of the note was legible except for the email address. No other contact info was given.

Through some guess work, I figured out the email address, emailed the guy and he basically admitted hitting my car. Got 3 estimates, sent them to him and have followed up twice now and haven't heard from this guy in a week.

I think I've tracked down his home address, so my two options are;
1. File small claims to get the $800 for repair
2. File insurance claim with my insurance which I'm considered not at fault and my rates wouldn't go up. I'd pay $500 deductible which I could potentially get back if my insurance is able to find this guy's insurance carrier and retrieve the cost. If they can't, I could still file a small claims case to get the deductible back

Thanks in advance for the guidance

kenner
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Re: Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by kenner » Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:58 pm

ssquared87 wrote:Walked out of my apartment to find my front bumper scuffed up and a not on my windscreen. Most of the note was legible except for the email address. No other contact info was given.

Through some guess work, I figured out the email address, emailed the guy and he basically admitted hitting my car.

Definitely save emails from the at-fault party if he admitted fault.

Got 3 estimates, sent them to him and have followed up twice now and haven't heard from this guy in a week.

Proceed as if you may never hear from him again.

I think I've tracked down his home address, so my two options are;
1. File small claims to get the $800 for repair
2. File insurance claim with my insurance which I'm considered not at fault and my rates wouldn't go up. I'd pay $500 deductible which I could potentially get back if my insurance is able to find this guy's insurance carrier and retrieve the cost. If they can't, I could still file a small claims case to get the deductible back

File the claim with your insurance company, collect the payment over the deductible, and preserve the legal right to pursue the at-fault party and his insurance company, if any. Your company may help you in pursuing the at-fault party and his insurance company, but even if you prevail in a claim, at-fault party may never pay to satisfy the debt; but his insurance company should do so. Your insurance company can be your friend in this situation.

Thanks in advance for the guidance


P. S. These are hopefully helpful thoughts, not legal advice.

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Strayshot
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Re: Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by Strayshot » Sat Apr 09, 2016 9:55 am

A week is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Maybe the person is busy working and has a family and couldn't even think about it until the following weekend.

If they left a note you are in good shape. If they really were a deadbeat they would just have left and you would have to deal with it alone with your insurance.

Give them more time to respond, they are probably trying to work with their insurance company and figure out what to do.

Small claims court is a massive headache. I would pay $1000 to avoid dealing with the court, that is a bad option.

Work through your insurance agency if you give this person a reasonable amount of time to get back to you and they still aren't responding. Maybe at week 2 send an email and say " if I don't hear from you by mid-week I will be pursuing a claim through my insurance "

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JaneyLH
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Re: Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by JaneyLH » Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:01 am

A drunk trying to find his way back to the dock in a rented motorboat ran into the back of our sailboat. Luckily we were just finishing tucking it in and would have been gone in 10 minutes, but we were able to confront the guy and get his drivers license and insurance card information. Turned it into our insurance company and they paid to have the damage fixed minus our $500 deductible. They dealt with the other guy's insurance company, which finally paid the claim, and in about 8 months we got our $500 back.

We ended up with a big loss of an entire summer's worth of slip rental -- a bummer, since this was the first day we had put the boat in the lake and it took months to get estimates, order parts, and have the repairs done. We considered going to small claims court but in the end decided the angst wasn't worth it. I've been there twice before and it was a very unnerving and unpleasant experience. :(

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daveatca
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Small Claims Court

Post by daveatca » Sun Apr 10, 2016 7:35 am

1. If you have the time
2. If you have never been to small claims court.

I would go to court for the learning experience.

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by DaftInvestor » Sun Apr 10, 2016 7:44 am

If you go to small claims court before going through insurance you will likely be asked why you didn't go through insurance and your case could be dismissed without prejudice until you go through insurance first. This is my understanding but could vary by state.

johnubc
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Re: Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by johnubc » Sun Apr 10, 2016 7:51 am

To me, this is a no brainer - go with the insurance company.

kenner
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Re: Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by kenner » Sun Apr 10, 2016 8:01 am

DaftInvestor wrote:If you go to small claims court before going through insurance you will likely be asked why you didn't go through insurance and your case could be dismissed without prejudice until you go through insurance first.


There is no legal support in the history of American jurisprudence for the above statement. Its called "election of remedies" and the plaintiff has the choice.

Cindyjrn
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Re: Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by Cindyjrn » Sun Apr 10, 2016 2:38 pm

You only have election of remedies if the other party has opted out of his choices. You don't have the right to sue somebody for damage to your automobile if they have insurance coverage and want to proceed in that manner. Like the other poster said, your case would be dismissed until you could prove that the only feasible option was small claims court.

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dwickenh
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Re: Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by dwickenh » Sun Apr 10, 2016 3:02 pm

Call your insurance and let them handle the process through Subrogation (is the right for an insurer to pursue a third party that caused an insurance loss to the insured. This is done as a means of recovering the amount of the claim paid to the insured for the loss.)

You are already paying for this service through your premiums, so no reason not to let them pursue the responsible party.

The longer you wait, the more likely the responsible party will get amnesia :)

Dan
The market is the most efficient mechanism anywhere in the world for transferring wealth from impatient people to patient people.” | — Warren Buffett

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Dog_Papa
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Re: Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by Dog_Papa » Sun Apr 10, 2016 3:40 pm

If you go with your insurance company, will it be considered a claim? I would think it might. I have used small claims court several times
to collect money people owed for work done to their heating or cooling system. The problem was collecting once I had gotten a judgement.
A judgement against the defendant will really screw up his credit. This would provide a little satisfaction to me anyway. He may also pay up
when you file, before the court date. We had people do that.

Others did not care about their credit. The other party has to miss work as well. Fees to file are small and many courts have a booklet you can
read about how to use small claims court. It will be a learning experience if nothing else. What I did before going the 1st time was watch a few cases in small claims court. To get an idea how it works. Also some courts have night hours available.

Swampy
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Re: Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by Swampy » Sun Apr 10, 2016 4:10 pm

Has a police report been filed???

You've got to get legal documentation and a verifiable timeline established.
Your first mistake was waiting a week if you didn't call the police.

Honestly, this sounds like a Judge Judy episode in the making.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. | Failure is not an option. | If I have seen further, it is because I was carried on the shoulders of giants.

kenner
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Re: Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by kenner » Sun Apr 10, 2016 5:40 pm

Cindyjrn wrote:You only have election of remedies if the other party has opted out of his choices.

Not sure what country's laws you are referring to (maybe Uzbekistan-stan), but it most assuredly is not the law in the United States of America.

Imagine: Defendant is drunk, causes a crash that demolishes your brand new BMW 750IL, leaves a note saying "I elect that you cannot sue me and/or my insurance company to recover your losses".

Good luck with that fantasy that ignores hundred's of years of law derived from English common law.


You don't have the right to sue somebody for damage to your automobile if they have insurance coverage and want to proceed in that manner. Like the other poster said, your case would be dismissed until you could prove that the only feasible option was small claims court.


Again, good luck with that fantasy.

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by DaftInvestor » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:55 am

kenner wrote:
Cindyjrn wrote:You only have election of remedies if the other party has opted out of his choices.

Not sure what country's laws you are referring to (maybe Uzbekistan-stan), but it most assuredly is not the law in the United States of America.

Imagine: Defendant is drunk, causes a crash that demolishes your brand new BMW 750IL, leaves a note saying "I elect that you cannot sue me and/or my insurance company to recover your losses".

Good luck with that fantasy that ignores hundred's of years of law derived from English common law.


You don't have the right to sue somebody for damage to your automobile if they have insurance coverage and want to proceed in that manner. Like the other poster said, your case would be dismissed until you could prove that the only feasible option was small claims court.


Again, good luck with that fantasy.


Kenner - not sure why you are getting belligerent here. Are you an expert of small-claims and auto-insurance laws in every state? Laws vary by state - in the state of MA for instance - officially: "Massachusetts requires that you file a Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report within five days of the accident―even if law enforcement was at the scene. You must submit copies to your local law enforcement, your insurance agent, and to the Registry of Motor Vehicles...". If the plaintiff didn't submit a crash report with a copy to his insurance company - the judge, at his/her discretion, can absolutely dismiss the claim without prejudice (meaning he can come back after following proper procedures if still not happy) since proper procedure wasn't followed by the plaintiff.

Election of remedies doesn't mean that the plaintiff can ignore all other federal and state laws without consequence.

kenner
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Re: Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by kenner » Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:10 pm

Point taken.

I have never handled a small claims court case, but it seems that even if some states erect hurdles to pursuing legal remedies in such courts, there is no absolute, final bar to a plaintiff seeking justice. The state dictates the procedure, not the guilty party.

One of Cindy's points seems to be that having liability insurance somehow immunizes the insured from a lawsuit. Not sure that is accurate.

What do you say?
Last edited by kenner on Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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dm200
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Re: Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by dm200 » Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:57 pm

ssquared87 wrote:Walked out of my apartment to find my front bumper scuffed up and a not on my windscreen. Most of the note was legible except for the email address. No other contact info was given.
Through some guess work, I figured out the email address, emailed the guy and he basically admitted hitting my car. Got 3 estimates, sent them to him and have followed up twice now and haven't heard from this guy in a week.
I think I've tracked down his home address, so my two options are;
1. File small claims to get the $800 for repair
2. File insurance claim with my insurance which I'm considered not at fault and my rates wouldn't go up. I'd pay $500 deductible which I could potentially get back if my insurance is able to find this guy's insurance carrier and retrieve the cost. If they can't, I could still file a small claims case to get the deductible back
Thanks in advance for the guidance


Neither "advice" nor "guidance", but what I would do is file with MY insurance company and let MY insurance company go after the other party and other party's insurance company. I would do this because it is my opinion that MY insurance company is much better at dealing with this than I would be.

ssquared87
Posts: 345
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:54 am

Re: Car hit - Insurance or Small Claims Court

Post by ssquared87 » Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:47 pm

OP here, apologies for the late reply work has been crazy.

Thanks for all the good suggestions. I was a little concerned about going to insurance as I wasn't confident my rates would stay low even though I wasn't at fault.

Spoke with insurance today and they offered to find the other party's insurance and file a claim with them on my behalf. Perfect solution and saved me much effort if it works out.

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