If someone backed into my car and put a big dent in the fender but they were not the insured, does this mean I have to claim it on my insurance?

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If someone backed into my car and put a big dent in the fender but they were not the insured, does this mean I have to claim it on my insurance?

I filed a claim with the insurance company for the owner of the car, but they are

denying my claim and they are citing that by law we have to take care of this

ourselves and to call our insurance company. I have full coverage but I don’t see

why I should file with my insurance company. What are my rights?

Asked on September 12, 2016 under Accident Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, you can also simply sue the at-fault driver--and someone who backs into your (presumably then stationary) car is at fault, since to hit a stationary object or vehicle is to drive negligently, or carelessly--and also the car's owner, if not the same as the driver, since the owner of a vehicle is as liable as those whom he or she allows to drive his/her car (the owner is not liable if the car was stolen, however, since the owner did nothing wrong in that case--he or she did not let the thief drive). If you can show in court, by a "preponderance of the evidence" (more likely than not) that the driver was at fault in hitting you, which appears to be the case based on what you write, you can get a court order or judgment requiring him or her, and also the owner (you would name both the driver and the owner in the lawsuit) to pay you the cost to repair your car. If they have the relevant insurance, the insurer should pay at that point; but even if not, as long as the driver and/or owner have assets (e.g. money in the bank; a house, which you could put a lien on) or jobs (which have wages you could garnish), you'd have a reasonable chance of collecting money from them, regardless of insurance. 
Or you could claim under your own insurnace, which is faster, cheaper, and more certain, but will undoubtedly raise your rates and leave you with having to pay the deductible out of pocket.
Or you can do both: put in an insurance claim, then sue (such as in small claims court) for the deductible.


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