And in THIS corner...
August 20, 2005 7:16 AM   Subscribe

I live in Pennsylvania (yeah, I know). My wife was in her car, stopped in front of a retirement building. A woman was moving her mother out of the building at the time when a dresser fell on the hood of my wife's car. The car has a dent. I got an estimate from a body shop. The woman gave my wife a phone number and an address. There was a witness (the building maintenance guy). The estimate seems accurate but is expensive. I'm concerned that the woman might get pissed off and try to do the typically American thing and deny it happened, refuse to acknowledge, refuse to pay, etc., etc. Is this a car insurance issue for her? How would this woman claim this on her insurance...or can she? The body shop I got the estimate from said they'd never seen anything like it. Bottom line is, it's obvious it's this lady's fault but when she sees the estimate, she's going to freak out. I just want to be prepared in case (probably when) this gets ugly. Yes, I know about small claims court.
posted by SparkyPine to Law & Government (13 answers total)
Response by poster: I also want to state that, another reason I want to know this is to perhaps mitigate the shock to her when the estimate is presented and hopefully avoid a conflict by doing so.
posted by SparkyPine at 7:26 AM on August 20, 2005

If the estimate seems high, it might be worth getting an estimate from another body shop. This way, if the first estimate is too high, you'll know (and know not to show it to the woman). If, on the other hand, it isn't, you'll be able to show the woman that the estimate is reasonable for the damages incurred and in line with what the work should cost.
posted by lumiere at 7:43 AM on August 20, 2005

I don't think she could claim this on her car insurance, because she wasn't driving at the time. However, perhaps you should contact your car insurance agent. If the damage is more than your deductible, it might be easiest for you to pay the deductible, then let the insurance company pay the rest and pursue this woman themselves. If she pays in full, they should refund the cost of your deductible to you. The insurance company has lawyers on retainer that could handle it.
posted by MrZero at 8:50 AM on August 20, 2005

I strongly suspect this would fall under your comprehensive coverage. It's like when you're in a parking lot and a cart dents your car, or when you're driving on the freeway and a rock cracks your windshield. Because another car was not involved, their car insurance would not be responsible for this.

In any case, you should definitely consult your insurance provider. You wouldn't have to file a claim necessarily, but they would be able to advise you.
posted by Kimberly at 9:28 AM on August 20, 2005

Who was doing the moving? Was her mother lowering the dresser out of the window, or was the moving company? Where did the dresser fall from? Tailgate of a pickup truck? Did her mother put it in the PU truck? "Accurate but is expensive", is this anything like much improved and 20% better?
Insurance companies love details.
posted by buzzman at 9:42 AM on August 20, 2005

You should claim this under your own insurance, and let your insurance company work out the details. There should be no change to your insurance rate: your company will get all its money back from whomever is actually responsible -- either the woman, under her home insurance plans, or the moving company, under their business insurance plans.

This isn't much different from the time someone drove into our condominium: the home insurance company went after the car insurance company.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:13 AM on August 20, 2005

I agree with five fresh fish. And 3 estimates are standard.
posted by LadyBonita at 11:23 AM on August 20, 2005

"either the woman, under her home insurance plans"

Assuming, of course, that she has home insurance.
posted by mischief at 11:33 AM on August 20, 2005

If you get a second estimate, I suggest you mention that it will be paid for out-of-pocket, and not by insurance. You may get a lower price.
posted by wryly at 1:43 PM on August 20, 2005

If she doesn't have home insurance, then it'll come out of her pocket.

Better her pocket than yours.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:55 PM on August 20, 2005

We got hit from the side by someone with no insurance. After a while they stopped returning our calls. At that point the insurance company said "We'll take care of it", charged us nothing, and evidently pursued them. I don't know and don't care.

Moral: get the second estimate if it'll make you feel better (we got one, and did). Then if there's any trouble with the woman, hand it off to your insurance company; part of what you're paying them for is this service.
posted by Aknaton at 5:52 PM on August 20, 2005

"If she doesn't have home insurance, then it'll come out of her pocket."

Assuming, of course, she has any money.
posted by mischief at 8:14 PM on August 20, 2005

If she doesn't have money now, she may in the future. This is apparently serious coin, so if she refuses to play along and you cannot get satisfaction from your insurance company, sue.

While getting a judgement is only the start of the process towards getting your money, a judgement is, for all intents and purposes, forever. They need to be renewed periodically, between every 5 and 20 years depending on your state, but you can charge an interest rate (again, depending on your state) that comes close to the 11% stock market average appreciation.
posted by phearlez at 11:58 AM on August 22, 2005

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