I live in Ohio. A woman hit my car in a dept store parking lot causing minor damage to the passenger side. I did not see the damage when I returned

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I live in Ohio. A woman hit my car in a dept store parking lot causing minor damage to the passenger side. I did not see the damage when I returned

I did not see the damage when I came out of the store, I left to run another errand, saw the damage, returned, called the police, filed a report, the police left her a note to get in contact with me, she never did and won’t pay for the damage. I have pictures and estimates. She says because I left she is not liable. Is this true? Frustrated in Ohio.

Asked on March 16, 2012 under Accident Law, Ohio

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The fact that you left the parking lot is irrelevant.  The other driver is still liable for the damage to your car.  You might want to contact the police and tell them that she hasn't contacted you to provide her insurance information. When you obtain her insurance information, file a claim for property damage with her insurance carrier. 

If it turns out that she doesn't have insurance, the police should be informed.  If she doesn't have insurance and if you have uninsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance policy, you can file an uninsured motorist claim through your insurance company.

If you don't have uninsured motorist coverage and she doesn't have insurance, you will need to file a lawsuit against her for negligence.  Your damages (the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit) would be the cost of repairs to your car.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by having your car repaired at an auto body shop whose charges are comparable to other auto body shops in the area.  If you were to select the most expensive auto body shop you could find to make the repairs, your damages would be reduced accordingly.  Your damages in your lawsuit should also include the cost of a rental car if you need a rental car while your car is being repaired.  Again, you will need to mitigate damages by selecting a rental car with a reasonable rate.  If you were to select the most expensive rental car you could find, your damages would be reduced accordingly.

You may be able to file your lawsuit in Small Claims Court.  Your damages should also include court costs which would be the court filing fee and process server fee.  If she doesn't pay after you obtain a judgment against her, you will need to seek a wage garnishment.

If she has insurance and the case is settled with her insurance company, NO lawsuit is filed.  If she doesn't have insurance and you have uninsured motorist coverage, your insurance carrier will pay for the repairs to your car and you won't need to file a lawsuit against her.


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