I was hit and don’t have insurance, his insurance claims I’m at fault.

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I was hit and don’t have insurance, his insurance claims I’m at fault.

I was just given a car as a gift but since the original owner can’t find her pink slip, it’s taking me awhile to legally take possession of the vehicle. I don’t drive it, which is why I don’t have insurance, I was just moving it out of the way so that my mom could get out of the garage. As I was exiting the alley where our garage is and making a right turn, I stopped mid turn to make sure it was safe for me to go, as there’s limited visibility of oncoming traffic from the left. While I was stopped, another vehicle backed into me while trying to park. He claimed that I hit him but when he called the police, the officer that came said he couldn’t tell who’s fault it was and just gave me a fix-it ticket for the expired tags/lack of insurance. I wasn’t able to contact the claims adjuster right after the accident while he was in the office because of work and school, and when I called his direct line, another agent answered saying he was no longer the claim owner, and to call the new claim owner the next day. I also received a letter from the first claims adjuster saying that their driver was not at fault and they won’t be making any payments. So now what? I don’t mind if they don’t pay for the damage to my car because it’s a small dent, but I also don’t want to and can’t afford to pay for the damage to his car, which is a new back bumper. I’m thinking of pleading my case with the new claims adjuster. Or should I just forget about it since the total cost of replacing the bumper would only be about $500 which is cheaper for the guy that hit me than for him to sue me?

Asked on December 15, 2016 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Since title to the vehicle has not been transferred to you, the original owner, who can't find the pink slip, is still the registered owner.  If she has insurance, the car is still insured. Whether or not she has insurance, she is still the registered owner,and instead of you, should be filing the claim with the other party's insurance if you can prove the other driver was at fault.  From your statement, the other driver is at fault for backing into you.
If based on the police report being inconclusive, the other driver pursues a claim against the registered owner of the vehicle you were driving, refer the matter to the registered owner's insurance carrier.  The registered owner's insurance carrier might deny the claim becaise you were not on the policy and are deemed to be an unauthorized driver.  If that happens, you and the registered owner would be personally liable for the damage to the other car and its cost of repairs. If the registered owner did not have insurance and you are deemed to be at fault, then you and the registered owner are personally liable for the property damage (cost of repairs) to the other vehicle.
CA also has comparative negligence where both parties can be at fault.  Each is assessed a percentage of liability instead of being 100% liable for the damage to the other car.  For example, if you are 10% liable and the other driver is 90% liable, you only pay 10% of the cost of repairs to the other vehicle and the other driver pays 90% of the damage to your vehicle.  These figures are only for purposes of example, and may not be the actual figures if comparative negligence is applicable. 


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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