No ambulance to chase
August 19, 2008 4:23 PM   Subscribe

My car was rearended hard today by someone who has no insurance. I'm physically fine so far. Assuming I stay that way, should I consider suing him?

I am in Connecticut, which is also where the accident took place. I also understand that you are not and will never be my lawyer, and you're not giving me legal advice.

I myself have insurance. I'm out my $300 deductible and won't have my car back for at least a month, possibly longer -- my own policy does not include a rental for myself (yeah, I may rethink that for later...). I have not been told yet whether this accident will affect my premiums. While these expenses won't put me on the street, they will be felt.

I'm not sure it's relevant, but I'll mention it in case it is: The guy who hit me fled the scene, and was arrested about 20 minutes later. There were solid witnesses, and I've been told he will likely plead guilty to leaving the scene when charged.

I'm still pretty shaken up -- it was a scary scenario -- so if you're tempted to give me a hard time for pondering what I'm guessing would be a small claims case at best, please don't. Today has sucked enough already.

posted by anonymous to Law & Government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
no need to sue. your insurer will take care of it. show up in court to help convict him, then move on.
posted by lester at 4:30 PM on August 19, 2008

Call your insurance company for procedure and/or to ask for advice. I know our car insurance includes legal consultation and actual counsel for things like this. They should be taking care of it.
posted by Ky at 4:32 PM on August 19, 2008

I'm still pretty shaken up -- it was a scary scenario -- so if you're tempted to give me a hard time for pondering what I'm guessing would be a small claims case at best, please don't.

I'm not going to give you a hard time. I will say, though, that given how shaken up you are, there's no need to make this decision immediately. I was in an accident in October, and in some ways it took a couple of weeks for me to feel like I'd gotten my equilibrium back.

Let the insurance and legal processes work themselves out (or at least get underway); the statute of limitations isn't going to run out in the meantime, and you'll do yourself a favor by not making a hasty decision while under great stress.
posted by scody at 4:35 PM on August 19, 2008 [5 favorites]

Yes, give your insurance company all the information, and let insurance deal with it. This is why you pay them. Also, assuming that it's determined that the accident was the other guy's fault (which, it almost always goes that way with rear-endings), you'll probably get your $300 back. Hooray!

As for a rental - lesson learned, add that on to your coverage. Is there a close friend or relative you can borrow a car from in the meantime? Can you carpool to work, etc? Try not to pay for a rental unless you absolutely have to, they get expensive fast.

Don't rule out medical care yet either. I was rear-ended a few years ago, and my neck and upper back didn't START hurting til a couple days later. If insurance asks if you're going to get medical treatment, tell them that you're not sure yet.
posted by AlisonM at 4:37 PM on August 19, 2008

no need to sue. your insurer will take care of it. show up in court to help convict him, then move on.

Ha. I was in the same situation, in CT, and all I got from my insurance company was a letter saying "We'll try to get your deductible back, but don't get your hopes up. Really. Like 1% chance of getting your money. Sorry." I think your deductible and other expenses are last on the list of what they want to get paid for, and they'll settle for just covering their own costs.
posted by smackfu at 4:42 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

What would you be suing for?

More importantly, how would you collect from someone who appears to be a deadbeat?
posted by gjc at 5:00 PM on August 19, 2008

The first thing you would be asked is did you miss work and for how long.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:50 PM on August 19, 2008

I agree with gjc. There's no need to sue when the chances are that this guy probably won't be able to give you a red cent anyway. The only people who would get any money out of that scenario are your lawyers.

I was front-ended once by someone who had no insurance. Like your guy, they weren't well off at all, so I didn't sue them, not that that had even entered my mind in the first place. At the scene we exchanged numbers and what not and together we worked out a payment plan, so obviously they did not flee the scene like your guy did, but since the police arrested him I suppose it wouldn't be too difficult to get the guys details and try to work something out that does NOT involve the courts.

Of course, this assumes that the guy is anyone you want to deal with on a regular basis. If he isn't, disregard that idea, but seriously, still don't sue. Like I said before, nobody wins in that scenario except your lawyers.
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:59 PM on August 19, 2008

Well, if it is small claims court, there's really no lawyers.

OTOH, in small claims court, winning the judgement is the easy part. Collecting the money is where the troubles start.
posted by smackfu at 6:03 PM on August 19, 2008

From Ms. Vegetable:

I am sorry you have had such a bad day. This is not fun.

1. Do you have uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage? I think this is required by CT law - so please check your policy. This type of accident should be covered there.

2. This may or may not affect your premiums - but there are ways around it. Some states (I can't remember if CT is one of them) will not let this rear-ending affect your rates at all. Some will. Some will let your insurance company take away a discount, but not surcharge you. (If this last one is true, shop around for new insurance.) The state department of insurance will be able to answer this part.

3. Small claims court/suing him. If you choose this route - I would highly recommend a lawyer. And be aware that it would likely take a lot of time to not only get a judgment against him (which you would most certainly get easily), but also get his wages garnished or some other payment plan worked out - as these are two separate court proceedings. Your deductible, rental car, missed days of work, doctor visits, lawyer fees, etc - are ALL fair game. For reference - it took my sister less than 3 months to get a judgment issued against a former roommate. It took her 3 years to get paid by the stealing roommate via garnished wages, plus a LOT of time.

4. If you feel your insurance company is giving you the short end of the stick - call the state department of insurance. That's what they are there for. They should have a consumer advocate person or somebody else available to help you.

5. And keep documentation of EVERYTHING.

I hope tomorrow is better than today.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:24 PM on August 19, 2008

Essentially the same thing happened to my girlfriend, except the person didn't flee the scene. They didn't have insurance. My girlfriend just called her insurance company and they took care of getting the money from the person who hit her.
posted by number9dream at 8:20 PM on August 19, 2008

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