Bumped a car -- didn't exchange info. Now what?
August 31, 2016 3:50 AM   Subscribe

Oh dear. I bumped another woman's car with my car at a very low speed. I thought she wasn't stopping so I drove on -- then I saw her taking down my plate number but couldn't indicate to her that she should follow me to pull over. Now what will happen?

Anonymous because I feel like a dumbass. I was at a stop sign, this woman was in front of me. We were already in the stop-and-go pattern, so going at very low speed. I bumped her back bumper. I immediately reversed my car and backed up a bit to give her space, saw no damage at all to her bumper (I know this isn't my call to make, but just noting it). She appeared not to be doing anything, I figured okay we're good, it was a tiny nudge.

Then she turned the corner and looked like she was parking by some sports fields -- I thought okay fine, she's stopping here to park for her kids or something (I know, this was stupid reasoning but I thought she would either have pulled to the side IMMEDIATELY, like before turning, or was just moving on). I drove on. Then I saw her pull back out and she got behind me (with another car between us) at the next light. She was clearly looking at my license plate number and jotting it down. I slowed way down after getting through that intersection and obviously (I thought) pulled off the road, but she didn't follow me. Great. So she thinks I fled the scene and we didn't get to talk.

Now what will happen? I assume she will call her insurance and report this, with my plate number. I'm all current with my own car insurance, not worried about that. But what is the process? Is my plate # linked to my insurance? Will I get a letter from the police or the RMV? Will I get STOPPED by the police while I'm out driving? I've literally never had any sort of accident at all, so I don't know the procedure. Help me feel like this will not be more anxiety-producing than it already is.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your plate number would likely go on a police report that she filed, assuming she successfully copied your plate number down. But if there was no damage or minimal effect on the bumper that it couldn't be identified as a result of a collision, it's your word against hers. I wouldn't worry about this. You aren't going to be arrested. If anything you might get a call from your insurance saying that they filed a claim against you.
posted by deathpanels at 4:17 AM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

If she took your plate number before inspecting her car, could be she just got home and decided it wasn't worth it to file a report or call her insurance.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 4:28 AM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

If it's low enough speed it's possible there was zero damage and she'll get home, have a look, and forget about it. If your car also has zero damage that would give me confidence hers doesn't.
In my limited experience, you can get disproportionate damage if you collide at a specific angle (like one corner of a car hitting the side of another), but a straight bumper-to-bumper is likely to result in an equal amount of damage to both cars.

You don't say what country you're in so it's hard to say what would happen if she were to report it. In some places you don't even necessarily inform the police of a small-scale bump like that if you're filing an insurance claim, you just go direct to the insurance.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:53 AM on August 31, 2016

For the most part I think you're fine to pretend it never happened.

But, if you want to get out in front of it and avoid the (small) chance of very bad things happening, you could call the police and see if any recent reports involve your plate. The truth is you tried to talk to her, but the two of you collaboratively flubbed it, sort of like the hallway dance. Taking the initiative to get in touch may have an upside in preventing worst case (fleeing the scene rap), but it may have a downside on expected case (cops are now definitely involved).
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:02 AM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Call your insurance company and confirm you should talk to the police. What's the worst that happens? Nothing. Your insurance company and the police know you are honest and this doesn't look like a hit and run.

You have insurance. Just talk to the usual parties - your insurance and the police.

Explain that you and the other driver couldn't pull over easily, and in the beginning you did not think she even noticed since she did not throw on her hazards, pull over, or make eye contact with you. Say you thought maybe the cars didn't bump. Leave out most of the detail about pulling over and getting behind you unless asked.
posted by jbenben at 6:25 AM on August 31, 2016 [5 favorites]

My local police won't do anything at all if the damage is under $1000. Did you run into a Maserati? You're probably fine.
posted by AFABulous at 7:41 AM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

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