What should I do after a hit-and-run car accident?
May 15, 2007 11:43 AM   Subscribe

I was pulling out of my parking spot as some guy, going at high speed, out of nowhere cut in front of me, causing me to bump into him, and then ran away. What's my best action at this point?


Yesterday, I got into a car accident, and not sure what's the best option to take... I was pulling out of my parking spot (last spot before the light), as some guy, going at high speed, out of nowhere cut in front of me to turn right, causing me to bump into him. He then proceeded to drive away at high speed. I chased him and caught up to him after a few blocks. He then told me, in essence, to eff off, and to take it up with my insurance company. I did write down his license plate though.

So now I'm pondering, what's my best course of action? I live in New York state. It would be around $500 to fix my bumper. My insurance deductible is $500.

If I report a hit and run (which what, in essence, this was), would it be determined completely his liability, or partially mine too? Would my insurance go up in either case? I could just report that someone bumped into my car while it was parked, but I don't really want to lie about it ...

Thank you very much!
posted by zavulon to Law & Government (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Definitely report it to the police, along with his license plate number.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:59 AM on May 15, 2007

Not much advice here but the last option you gave is the wrost, the lieing about it. Becasue then you can't get HIS insuranceon the hook and it just hurts your rates. Or at the very least if it doesn't hurt your rate its just not worth it since the your deductrible is close to the damage caused.

You should have called the police while standing in front of him, or at least thts what I would have done.

Good luck
posted by crewshell at 12:00 PM on May 15, 2007

I believe you are at fault for the accident since you were pulling into traffic. That said he is at fault for leaving the scene of an accident. If you have the correct type of insurance you could claim that he hit you while you were in your parking space, then fled, but not until you got his license plate. Your insurance company should pay you for any damage to your car, again if you have the right type of insurance.
I would dummy up on the part where you were pulling into traffic when taliking to either the police or the insurance company.
posted by Gungho at 12:05 PM on May 15, 2007

Yeah. Call the police already. It would be trivial for them to find him with the tag # you got.

I was in a similar position once -- somebody hit me & ran, I got the tag number and the police actually went to the guy's house, inspected the car, and found evidence of his hitting my car -- paint had rubbed off from my car onto his front quarter panel.

It would be tough for anybody here to say who is at fault and who isn't, but regardless, the guy committed a crime by leaving the scene of the accident, and you have the right (and some would say, responsibility) to turn him in for that.
posted by contessa at 12:13 PM on May 15, 2007

The cops will likely consider this a civil matter if it's on private property and there's no extenuating circumstances, and they may decline to investigate. This may be just between your insurance company and you.
posted by rolypolyman at 12:13 PM on May 15, 2007

Chances are that you already have a $500 deductible, so you'd already be out the money. No point in involving the insurance company; most will raise your rates for any excuse.

I had Allstate in NY that said they'd not raise my rates but take away my good driver discount if I filed a claim from when a municipal snowplow hit my car twice when I only had it a month. Sometimes these things aren't worth it if the damage isn't substantial.
posted by dr_dank at 12:15 PM on May 15, 2007

To be honest, I'm not really concerned with getting that guy punished. I'm more concerned with me not having too pay too much, and having my insurance increased, even though it's not my fault.

I guess I should ask this - if I don't report it, I'll spend $500 on repairing my car, and that's it. If I do report however:

Will my insurance will go up?
And will the guy have to pay for repairs, or will it be split someway?
posted by zavulon at 12:32 PM on May 15, 2007

Since you were pulling out of a parking spot, likely the liability rests with you, not the guy who took off.
posted by astruc at 12:37 PM on May 15, 2007

as some guy, going at high speed, out of nowhere cut in front of me to turn right, causing me to bump into him.

Maybe you're not explaining it well, but it sounds like it's your fault. He was in the traffic lane, right? And you pulled out of your spot into the traffic lane, right? You hit him, right? Even if he was going faster than you think he should have been, it sounds to me like you pulled out of your parking space and hit a car in the traffic lane, something that is entirely your fault.

If you make an issue of it, and you are found to be at fault, your insurance may have to pay for his damage as well. Unless you're explaining this poorly, I would let it go.

My son was involved with something similar, only neither car left the scene. The situation was that for several weeks, the right lane just before a traffic light had been coned off for construction; to make a right turn you had to use the center lane. As the light was red, they started to pull the cones away. My son had his right blinker on. As soon as the light turned green, the yahoo behind him pulled out into the right lane and proceeded straight through the intersection and my son, not realizing the lane was open to traffic, turned into him. My son got the ticket, even though he was convinced he did the right thing (the lane was coned off when he got there). His car was totaled to the tune of $2k and the other car required $5k to fix.
posted by Doohickie at 12:38 PM on May 15, 2007

Yeah, I don't think I'm explaining this too well... I was pulling out, and he saw that for a while, yet he still cut me off and turned, and it was way too late for me to react.

I also had no idea that he was going to turn since he was going at high speed, and didn't have his signal on.

I think the biggest reason why it was his fault is the fact that he didn't stop and tried to escape... Unfortunately, I doubt the cops would see it that way :-(
posted by zavulon at 12:57 PM on May 15, 2007

Will my insurance will go up? One way or another, you can bet on it.

And will the guy have to pay for repairs, or will it be split someway?

If you involve the police, you involve the insurance company. My NYPD friend tells me that cars involved in police actions (make into reports, tickets, etc) are highly likely to have their rates hiked.

Practically, you're out $500 whether you go through insurance or not. You might as well pay out of pocket or else you're going to be paying for that insurance claim many times over in hiked premiums for the next few years.
posted by dr_dank at 12:58 PM on May 15, 2007

he is a criminal and should be punished regardless of how much money it saves you.
posted by Megafly at 1:10 PM on May 15, 2007

Like doohickie, I may not be reading this right (even with the new explanation) but it sounds like it was your fault. At least where I live, I'm pretty sure that the onus is entirely on the car pulling out of a parking spot into traffic.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:22 PM on May 15, 2007

It's hard to say who is at fault here. If he was not on the roadway as you were pulling out and then turned onto the roadway while you were partially out and failed to yield to you then I think he is at fault. Otherwise, unless he was grossly exceeding the speed limit it is probably you.
posted by caddis at 1:30 PM on May 15, 2007

Since NY is a no-fault state you likely can't get the $500 from him and your deductible is $500 so just repair it on your own dime. Did you give the other guy your information? Typically you are required to so your failure may also be a violation of the leaving the scene of an accident statute, although it would take a hard ass prosecutor or cop to accuse you of such.
posted by caddis at 1:38 PM on May 15, 2007

To echo others here, under the law you may well be at fault. "Causing me to bump into him" - if your car was moving when he cut you off, and you were pulling out of a parking space, there is a good chance you could be found at fault, even though that guy was speeding and was an asshole.

"I think the biggest reason why it was his fault is the fact that he didn't stop and tried to escape" - except that that has nothing to do with who was at fault for teh accident. It occured after the accident and would likely be treated as a separate matter. Unfortunately, your best bet is probably to eat the $500 and contact no one. Sorry.
posted by taliaferro at 2:34 PM on May 15, 2007

The fact that he left the scene has no bearing on whether you were at fault for the original bump.

If you want him punished for leaving the scene of the accident then by all means contact the police. If you want him to have to pay for your damages then you're in a stickier position. If the original accident is deemed your fault (which it sounds like it is) you may end up having to pay for his damages as well.
posted by bitdamaged at 2:45 PM on May 15, 2007

I agree with everyone who says it sounds like it was your fault. As to your following statement ...

I think the biggest reason why it was his fault is the fact that he didn't stop and tried to escape ...

this is irrelevant. You hit him. It may be that HE realized he did something shitty, and in some sense felt guilty that he caused you to hit him, and perhaps he was trying to avoid what he felt would be an inevitable confrontation. But the fact that he feels guilty or wants to avoid a confrontation doesn't change the fact that, at least as you describe the situation, it sounds like it was your fault.

Let it go.
posted by jayder at 5:17 PM on May 15, 2007

"Contributory negligence" is what the insurance companies call the thing they raise your rates for. They very very rarely see a bingle as only one person's fault, even if the balance of contributory negligence is 95/5.
posted by flabdablet at 5:34 PM on May 15, 2007

Here in California, if someone takes off, it usually indicates that they have no insurance and you'll never see a penny out of them.

But, it's also illegal to leave the scene of an accident like that.
posted by drstein at 6:59 PM on May 15, 2007

Thanks all. I've decided to let it go and just pay the damages, without contacting my insurance company.
posted by zavulon at 7:17 PM on May 15, 2007

I'm in the same situation; I rear ended a car in slow speed, my car has nothing, the other party got a quote of $1200.
I have a 6 month payment for my insurance Allstate in CA of $760, and I've been with them for over 10 years w/o accident.

I'm not sure whether to pay out of pocket and have them sign a liability release, or have the insurance handle it.

Is there any information on the web how insurances raise their rates after accidents & for how long?

posted by billjohns at 1:18 PM on June 9, 2007

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