Help me get an uninsured hit and runner
October 17, 2007 6:14 AM   Subscribe

How do I make an uninsured hit and run driver pay? I want him off the street. I do not want to do this guy any favors. How do I notify the community of this menace.

Saturday I was stopped at a stop sign and a driver making a sharp (think race car) left hand turn onto my street hit me head on and then ran. I only have liability coverage on my car as it is 11 years old and not worth the blue book value of the car at alittle under 1900 dollars.-

I got his license plate number, and he was caught/cited later. I also have his name, (suspended) drivers license number, year/make of his vehicle, the address he gave the police (and about 5 other addresses he has lived at in the past 14 years) and his birth date.

I also have his brothers name, and address (the address he gave the police). (I am planning on showing up at his hearing even if he does not.)This person is self employed as a painter and has been described to me as a functional alcoholic. I could not find his business listed in the phone book.

How can I figuratively, legally, make him pay for the 2,000 dollars in damage to my car? What are my options?
posted by Wong Fei-hung to Law & Government (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Your profile shows you reside in Ohio. According to this site, the Small Claims Court limit in Ohio is $3000, which means that is almost certainly your best legal avenue to obtain a judgement against this party.

Having the judgement against them does not ipso facto mean they will pay, but it is probably the necessary foundation for any process you may wish to use in getting your money back from him.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 6:35 AM on October 17, 2007

Best answer: Yes, small claims court. The fact that he's self-employed means that you're going to have a harder time getting the money out of him (I don't know how wage garnishment works, if it does at all, for the self-employed), and probable that you won't see much if any cash at all.

You'll want to look into your state's wage garnishment laws and how they apply/are enforced there. You could be entitled to up to 25% of his wages. NOLO article on wage garnishment.

Outside of the cash, you'd likely be best to let it drop. You don't want to get in a feud over this. Run him over the coals in the courts and walk away with whatever you can. Sounds like he'll ultimately fuck himself up good without any help from you.

Trust me, revenge is not worth your time or money and you'll ultimately wind up making yourself more miserable in the name of Making Him Pay. Not worth it.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:54 AM on October 17, 2007

I really have no legal basis for what I'm saying, but perhaps the Small Claims Court as suggested by BigLankyBastard can dock his pay by court order until the debt is paid. If he's a freelance painter, that could be a difficult path, but worth a shot. If he works for a single company, it would seem to be much easier to enforce such a ruling.
posted by shinynewnick at 7:03 AM on October 17, 2007

If they bring criminal charges against him, I am sure that the DA will ask that he pay restitution to you.
posted by miss meg at 7:08 AM on October 17, 2007

Do you want money, or do you push the state to get him off the road? He sounds like a menace. Maybe you lost your car, but at least no one (yet) has lost their lives.

If I were you I would push the DA to "throw the book at him."
posted by alms at 7:12 AM on October 17, 2007

Response by poster: Yeah - Money would be nice but I really just want the book thrown at him. This person has a history of driving on a suspended license, and cannot really get his license "suspended" more. I really would like to see him get a month in jail.

(I have been thinking about small claims court but just have not yet gotten to looking into it yet.)

Thanks for the advice!!
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 7:45 AM on October 17, 2007

Is there a possibility that they could hook his car up to an ignition interlock device that won't allow him to turn on the engine unless he passes a breathalyzer test? I know he's not suppoed to be driving, but clearly, he has a car, and he IS driving, and they have done nothing to stop him.

Also, they could force him to wear an electronic tether, so they know at any point in time exactly where he is.

I don't want to be killed by him. I'm certain no one else does, either.
posted by clarkstonian at 7:53 AM on October 17, 2007

Contrary to the above, you probably don't have to have his wages garnished or anything complicated like that. Just go for his assets. If he's not paying you and he has a car that's worth $1,500 or more, you can have that car taken by the sheriff and sold at auction in order to pay you. If his car is not worth that much you may need to go after additional assets (TV, clothes, stereo, etc.).
posted by rhizome at 9:02 AM on October 17, 2007

How about alerting a local columnist, suggesting they do a story on your region's insurance laws and use your story as an example? Bringing bad publicity to him and to your area's laws could get results.
posted by GaelFC at 9:29 AM on October 17, 2007

Report him to the Uninsured Motorist division of your state's Motor Vehicles Administration. They will make sure his vehicle's tags are seized and his license flagged. Anyone else's car he drives will be liable under their own insurance. You cannot keep him from driving illegally (obviously!), but you can bring him to the authorities attention.
posted by Fferret at 10:29 AM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

A self employed, alcoholic painter with a suspended licence currently living at his brother's place probably doesn't have any assets to speak of so small claims is likely to be a Pyrrhic victory at best.
posted by Mitheral at 10:43 AM on October 17, 2007

If a judgment is issued and he fails to pay, you might be able to ruin his credit, too.

Seconding the local columnist angle. I have no idea if it'd work, but it sure would be spectacular if it did!
posted by Myself at 5:59 AM on October 18, 2007

Middleclasstool makes an excellent don't want to start a war over's only $2K bucks or whatever, and the most important thing is that you didn't get hurt by this guy, as you could've really been in for a ride then. Think Karma, dude. He'll get his anyway, and the financial aspect of this for you can only be rectified by taking his ass to small claims court.

Good for you for being vindictive ;-)
posted by gmodelo at 12:29 PM on October 18, 2007

I would point out that in small-claims court, you have to do alot of work. Gather and present evidence, make arguement, etc, and there's no guarantee that you'll win. If he wins, you'll feel like a putz. If you go the government route, however, it costs you nothing, they'll do all the work.
posted by Fferret at 1:19 PM on October 18, 2007

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