What to do if my parked car was damaged and I haven’t heard anything from the insurance company of the person at-fault?

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What to do if my parked car was damaged and I haven’t heard anything from the insurance company of the person at-fault?

About 2 weeks ago, my parked car was backed into on the passenger side. The guy who backed into me has insurance with Allstate but it’s his stepmother’s policy. Apparently, he isn’t listed on the policy. I made the claim to their insurance company the very same day, however, I haven’t heard anything productive back from them. I have called almost everyday since the accident but they give me the run around. It’s not unreasonable to want my car fixed ASAP. What are the next steps I need to make in order to have my vehicle repaired, in a timely manner, at their expense.

Asked on September 15, 2016 under Accident Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The other person's insurer is not obligated to pay you unless and until you successfully sue and get a court order requring *their insurered* to pay--at which time, they should pay, up to the limits of the policy. Paying before there is a judgment in your favor is voluntary on their part, and they will not voluntarily pay if they think that either their insured may not be liable *or* that they may be able to escape their own obligation to pay for some reason--such as that a driver (the stepson) was not listed  as a covered driver, since an insured's failure to list those who regularly drive the car can result in a denial of coverage.
All you can do is sue the driver (the stepson) and the owner of the car (the stepmother) who, regardless of her insurance coverage, may be liable for damage caused by someone whom she allowed to driver her car. If you sue and prove that the driver was at fault--and since it is essentially negligent, or unreasonably careless, by definition to back into a parked or stationary car, based on what you write, it's difficult to see how the driver would not be at fault--you can get a court order requiring him and the person who let him use their car to pay your repair and other out-of-pocket costs resulting from the accident. (And if there is applicable insurance, at that point, the insurer may pay; but if they don't, you can seek the money directly fromt the driver and owner.)
Of course, a lawsuit--even a small claims suit, if the damage is under the small claims limit--will take months to resolve; if you want your car repaired before then, you will have to repair it yourself, then seek reimbursement of those costs.


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