Car accident. "I will write a cheque" turned into "Who are you?"
January 9, 2008 11:35 AM   Subscribe

Car accident in Sept. Swapped info; didn't call police. Now the guy who hit us has never heard of us. What can I reasonably expect?

Back in September, I stood watching on a corner as an SUV clipped the Civic my husband was driving. Much of the side of the plastic (!) bumper got left in the street.

Information was swapped, cops weren't called. (That last part was not my idea...) Very long story about why we didn't get around to pursuing it until now -- part of it having to do with my holding our newborn daughter while I watched him get clipped -- but, anyway. I finally called the dude (who had liquor on his breath at the time) yesterday.

He was very nervous and bullshitty of tone and claimed to own a grey Cadillac, not an SUV. No idea who I was. Then went into some story about how he owns a company and maybe a car there... Well, could he call me back? Give him 24h. Yeah, right.

What, if anything, can I reasonably expect at this point? Estimate for the damage is about C$1,400. We're in Ottawa, Ontario.
posted by kmennie to Law & Government (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I take it you didn't report it to your insurance company? Cops don't need to be involved in a non-injury accident but your insurance company sure does.

Assuming you didn't contact your insurance company, do you have any evidence that he did it?
posted by Justinian at 11:39 AM on January 9, 2008

Do you have any reason to believe you were given the right phone number?
posted by artifarce at 11:39 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I had something similar happen to me this December, and my father's advice was to find a witness to the accident who can corroborate your story. In absence of that, it's basically your word against his in a court of law.

Personally, I called my insurance company, explained the situation to them, and indicated that the other driver declined to provide his insurance information. They chased him down for me, and I got my car repaired at no cost to myself. Insurance companies are *way* better than the average shmoe at getting delinquents to pay up. Call your insurance company, and let them chase the guy down.

Good luck!
posted by LN at 11:47 AM on January 9, 2008

Always call the police. I know you say you didn't have a choice (husband said no, why??) but this is why. I would also guess that you were given a bogus phone number. Even if it's the right number, you have no proof. At all.
posted by agregoli at 11:47 AM on January 9, 2008

This is going to be an uphill battle, without a police report, there really isn't any 'proof'. The only thing you can do at this point is gather whatever evidence you can and see if your insurance company can take care of it, as per what Justinian said.

Though you might consider yourself lucky. The one time I didn't call the police in a collision, the other party (who took a corner right into our lane!) made a claim with his insurance company that it was our fault!

If you aren't successful in getting him to pay up, take this as a lesson that you never leave or allow involved parties to leave the scene of an accident until the police have been called and documented everything.
posted by Stilus at 11:50 AM on January 9, 2008

I'm in Gatineau, QC, right across from you. Actually, right now I'm in Ottawa but that's besides the point.

I had an accident a few years back. I was in a parking, and a stupid driver cut through parking lanes and t-boned me. We exchanged info, he admitted he was at fault and his insurance would cover it. Being inexperienced I did not get that on paper.

After reporting it to my insurer they indicated that the other party was claiming they were not at fault. I called the jackass and he said he wouldn't do anything about it and I had no choice. He also had filled out a police report saying he was not at fault, which apparently prevented me from filling my own and having to instead indicate that I did not agree with the facts at hand. I never heard from the police again after that.

My insurance didn't care about the accident, how it happenned, anything. If there is no paper with a signature indicating who's at fault (or at least a diagram of the accident, signed by both parties) they will say the fault is split 50/50. They also indicated that cops will not bother coming on site unless there are injuries, so even if you had called the cops they might have said to exchange info and deal with it yourself before coming in to make a report.

If you haven't contacted the insurance company at all I'm afraid you might be SOL, but this is not an expert opinion by any means.
posted by splice at 11:52 AM on January 9, 2008

Response by poster: artifarce: a guy answering to the name Mr Lousy SUV Driver gave was called to the phone (by his wife, I think) when I called; certainly had the exact same accident.

It was on a very busy corner in nice weather, plenty of people, but yeah, we did not get the number of any bystanders and I doubt anyone would remember months later, if we could even find anybody.
posted by kmennie at 11:57 AM on January 9, 2008

Response by poster: (Am now wondering if _I_ count as a witness; I was staring right at it a few feet away. And yes, we do have the plate #)
posted by kmennie at 11:58 AM on January 9, 2008

I believe that in Ontario, by law you are required to call police for accidents if there is damage over $1000. For future reference.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 12:22 PM on January 9, 2008

Did you make an insurance claim when you took your car in for repairs? Here in BC, the autoshops take pictures and the insurance company attends to take pictures.
posted by acoutu at 1:09 PM on January 9, 2008

My family was in a car accident just a few days ago. We were freaked out, messed up, and didn't get all the insurance information we needed from the guy who hit us, but -- hurray! -- we did get a photo of his license plate. When I called my insurance company, they said they would run a plate check to get his address.

I'm in the US, so the law might be different, but if I were you I would call my insurance company and ask them if they can do a plate check.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:01 PM on January 9, 2008

Kmennie, for everyone's sake, please call the cops next time if you suspect drinking was involved. That guy shouldn't have gotten back on the road afterward if you smelled alcohol on him!
posted by loiseau at 10:24 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

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