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Parking Lot fender bender - my obligations?
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:16 pm 
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Hi everyone

Sorry in advance if this is in the wrong area but I couldn't figure out a better place for it to go. I also searched for a while before posting this but didn't find anything relevant. Just looking for some friendly advice.

I was involved in a fender bender in a store parking lot a couple of days ago, I was backing out of a spot in a very dark parking lot, someone drove behind me (I didn't see them at all, I don't think they even had the headlights on) and to make a long story short their driver side door ended up dented. We parked and got out the vehicles, discussed what happened (no one assumed guilt during this conversation). I did (dumbly, but at least it's the "right" thing to do) offer to pay for damages to her vehicle, which didn't seem to be very extensive -- it's a '98 Cavalier (not in great shape to start with) and the door was just pushed in a bit, it still worked fine, etc. The woman driving adamantly agreed that she didn't want to do this through insurance so we never exchanged insurance information, but did exchange phone numbers, etc. I also took down the make/model and license plate of the car. Apparently the vehicle was also not in her name, but her husbands, so I took his name down as well.

We spoke the next evening and her husband (who wasn't there to comment or join the conversation) apparently pulled a dollar figure out of the air for "what it would cost to fix the car, have a rental car for the interim, etc" ... of $1200 :shock: Having worked in a body shop (albeit a long time ago) it didn't look to me like it was anywhere near that amount of damage -- it totally looks like the dent could be mostly pulled out .. or at least pretty close to it. Worst case even a new door skin or a replacement door wouldn't come up to that figure -- what he is asking for is literally about half the blue book value of the car itself (if that, again this car didn't seem to be in great shape to start with). In efforts to be reasonable I told her that while I was willing to pay for damages/repair costs but that this amount her husband determined seemed unreasonable and that I would prefer to see an estimate from a repair shop before shelling out any $$. I also stated that if her husband wanted to be unreasonable about the whole thing and go that route that if I chose to pursue for repairs on my vehicle (some scraped paint on my rear bumper assembly) that it would likely be more costly than the repair to her car (her car is an older beat up cavalier sedan, my car is an older -- but mostly mint -- BMW 740i). She agreed that she would pursue getting some estimates for me and the conversation ended. This was last night.

Now bring on today. I got a voicemail from her husband (the apparent owner of the vehicle). It was lengthy, it involved him telling me in no uncertain terms, and with a lot of profanity, that if I didn't call him back and give him $1200 in cash before 6PM that he would be reporting the accident and going after me for it through insurance, and that he "worked for insurance" so he knew what he was talking about. He arrived at this figure because him and "a couple of buddies" looked at the car and said that is what it would take to get it repaired and to have a replacement rental car for the duration (again I disagree, I could get probably him a whole replacement door for a couple hundred at most plus whatever it would cost to colour match it paint wise -- if that was even needed, there are a TON of these cars out there in the exact same colour). Let me re-iterate that the car is completely drive-able and this is just a pushed in door skin. The door still worked perfectly (window worked, door opened and closed fine) so it's unlikely the door frame was even bent.

The husband was extremely rude, basically threatened me, there was a lot of profanity in the message, etc. I haven't responded to him and I don't think that I will (6PM "threat" limit or not). I've kept a recording of the voicemail should I need it for future reference ...

Now for my question ... what is MY obligation in this manner. To my eyes, albeit untrained as they are, the damages seem clearly less than $1000. It didn't happen on the roadway or even close to it, it was in a small strip mall parking lot. From what I've read here (and other places) so far, because it is < $1000 there was no need for the police to be involved, and from what I can understand of my insurance policy I am not obligated to report this incident to them. Here I thought I was being very reasonable about the whole matter ... there are no (impartial) witnesses to my knowledge -- she had a passenger in the car with her, seemed like a son (he was a teenager, she is in her 40's or so) and he mostly stayed out of the whole ordeal, texting on his cell phone while we discussed things.

Help and thanks! Any advice is appreciated.


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Re: Parking Lot fender bender - my obligations?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:34 pm 
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Is your question about your obligations to report to insurance, report to police, provide info to them, or to pay?

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Re: Parking Lot fender bender - my obligations?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:41 pm 
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Simon Borys wrote:
Is your question about your obligations to report to insurance, report to police, provide info to them, or to pay?


Hmm all of the above I guess. I'm primarily concerned that I do the right thing here (legally) and that it doesn't reflect badly on me at the end of the day. A secondary concern is also my insurance rates going up or ending up with bad marks on my driving record (I'm still a G2 driver actually). Lastly this guy was pretty much downright nasty with me which raises my hackles, but I've taken some deep breaths and gotten over that part of it (in his place I'm sure I would be upset too).

Any advice is greatly appreciated.


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Re: Parking Lot fender bender - my obligations?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:56 pm 
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Location: In YOUR rearview mirror!
IMHO..$1200 seems rather cheap for a dent plus rental vehicle.

Recently saw a autoshop bill for a scuff on rear passenger door, scuff on trim (not thru paint on either item) no dent and the cost was $780. It was the lowest of the 2 estimates for the vehicle from 2 licenced body shops.

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Re: Parking Lot fender bender - my obligations?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:11 pm 
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hwybear wrote:
IMHO..$1200 seems rather cheap for a dent plus rental vehicle.

Recently saw a autoshop bill for a scuff on rear passenger door, scuff on trim (not thru paint on either item) no dent and the cost was $780. It was the lowest of the 2 estimates for the vehicle from 2 licenced body shops.


Thanks for that info. Maybe my judgement is way off on the costing then. As a previous poster said I think we're all in the wrong business and should open body shops!

I'm still unclear on how I should proceed here, especially with the verbal abuse and threats this guy made in the voicemail. Here's a quote from his call:

Quote:
Well buddy, I'll give you till 6 o'clock tonight and if I don't get a phone call from you offering me that money without no g*d-damned bill, we didn't do "F" all, I don't need your bull**it F'ing up my time and I'm not stopping my company so I can come and play with a little $1200 F'ing paycheck ...


In all fairness I just asked for an estimate from a shop instead of a figure that was pulled out of the air.


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Re: Parking Lot fender bender - my obligations?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:30 pm 
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Location: In YOUR rearview mirror!
I don't think asking for a minimum of 2 estimates on paper is unfair either. If you feel threatened then go to your local police and make a report.

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Re: Parking Lot fender bender - my obligations?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:44 pm 
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hwybear wrote:
I don't think asking for a minimum of 2 estimates on paper is unfair either. If you feel threatened then go to your local police and make a report.


Thanks again for the advice. I think just to be on the safe side of things I'm going to head down to my local PRC and report the collision. I'm less concerned about the actual money or insurance hikes than I am screwing up my driving record because of this or worse being charged with anything further in relation to this (like failing to report). I'll ask for some advice at the PRC about the treatment this guy has given me on this.


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Re: Parking Lot fender bender - my obligations?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 4:21 pm 
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It's usually never a bad idea to report to the police and if they ask why the delay in reporting, you can answer, truthfully, that you didn't report initially because you didn't think it was over $1000, but you're reporting now because you've been advised by the owner of the other vehicle that it appears it may be.

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Re: Parking Lot fender bender - my obligations?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 4:26 pm 
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Simon Borys wrote:
It's usually never a bad idea to report to the police and if they ask why the delay in reporting, you can answer, truthfully, that you didn't report initially because you didn't think it was over $1000, but you're reporting now because you've been advised by the owner of the other vehicle that it appears it may be.


Perfect and thanks again. That's exactly what I'm headed out to do right now!


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Re: Parking Lot fender bender - my obligations?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:39 pm 
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Just a couple of thoughts, since hwybear and Simon Borys already gave you everything you need...

If this guy "worked for insurance," first and foremost, he should know and understand the Fault Determination Rules. They would place you as 100% at fault for this collision, because you were leaving a parking space and failed to yield (section 16) and, not only that, but you were also backing up (section 19). Sorry. I'll explain why I'm telling you this below...

Click here for Ontario Fault Determination Rules

It's good that you've reported the collision. I'd also suggest going through insurance, even though it may raise your rates. The reason I'm suggesting this is, as mentioned above, if he does work for insurance, then he'd know you are 100% at fault, so he'd "win" either way. So, why would he fly off the handle with a profanity-laced tirade when you made a request for estimates? It's highly suspicious, especially the part about $1200 cash. This leaves no paper trail, whereas a cheque, money order, or insurance, would. When people start going bananas over normal, reasonable requests like that guy did, I'd rather have the insurance company (and the police) deal with them. But, it is up to you. You are a much better judge of the situation than I am, because I'm getting second-hand information through a computer screen here. His behaviour was completely unreasonable, and, insisting on doing it without any sort of paper evidence to back it up is borderline extortion.

That said, your behaviour was perfectly normal in asking for a repair shop to give a written estimate. Stating the obvious, "a couple of buddies" are not an authorized repair shop.

Side note: I was sideswiped by a driver attempting to pass on a narrow shoulder in stop-and-go traffic during the summer. Total damage to my car was $1700, with the only damage being gouges on my left rear quarter panel and left rear door.

Let us know how it turns out. Good luck with everything.

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Re: Parking Lot fender bender - my obligations?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:00 pm 
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Thanks for the reply. Yes the "by 6PM in cash with no bill" part set off my hackles too. The police have already requested he bring his vehicle come in to the report centre so it can all be documented, and I agree that going forward I think that I will let insurance take care of this one. He was still irate with the officer that phoned him from the PRC (I could hear him yelling even with the phone to her ear, profanities and all!)

Thanks also for letting me know that I wasn't unreasonable asking for quotes on paper -- I didn't think that our of the ordinary either, but I guess each to their own. Thanks to the power of the internet and phoning a couple of friends I actually know a good bit of information about this fella now and I'm very happy to NOT be dealing directly with him.

I'll let you know how it all turns out, and thanks for the advice here. While it's a great forum with lots of great info I hope that I don't have to frequent it!! :D


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Re: Parking Lot fender bender - my obligations?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:56 pm 
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Well, as much as I was not involved, the fact that the cops got involved put a smile on my face. :D

Serves him right. You were doing what any other driver would have done in your situation. Any time someone does not go through insurance, three written estimates is the off-the-record "expected" thing-to-do. As for him, well, he sounds like he's a few french fries short of a Happy Meal. (Seriously, getting irate with the cop? I guess he's not good at this whole "learning from your mistakes" thing.)

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