Rear-ended by a guy with no drivers license, no insurance

I figure it was bound to happen, but it still sucks. I’m wondering if I did the right thing… let me know what you think…

I was going southbound on Vermont (south of Beverly) and was stopped in the left lane (for a light) when the car behind me didn’t stop in time and hit the car I was driving. I didn’t see it coming and my head flew forward and then came directly back before the headrest stopped it from flying back further. I had an instant headache and my neck felt like it had been wrenched. But I could tell I hadn’t been hit hard enough for major damage.

I immediately put my car into park, turned on the hazards, and stepped out of my car.

Behind me was a small blue Nissan with a Latino man in the driver’s side, a woman (I assume his wife) in the passenger seat, and a baby in the back seat. It looked like the guy was hoping I either hadn’t noticed or was going to drive away because he looked disappointed that I got out of the car. The expression was kind of like, “Oh damn, she’s not driving away…”

As I walked toward his car and waved him out, he reluctantly got out. He kept saying, “Sorry, sorry.”

I looked at the rear bumper (which I recently spent $1000 out of my own pocket to fix when I scraped the back corner with a telephone pole while parking) and there was no visible damage. But having been in fender benders before, I know that sometimes there is damage to the foam underneath the bumper that can’t be seen with the naked eye.

The guy looked at the bumper and said, “Ok?” Evidently he was hoping I was going to leave it alone.

However, the car I was driving was not my own car, so (in my opinion) I have the responsibility of returning it in as good or better condition than I had received it. If there was hidden damage to the vehicle, I’m ultimately responsible for it; however in this situation, I was not responsible for the accident, so naturally, I wanted to get the guy’s info.

I explained, “Not my car, can I see your driver’s license?”

He asked, “┬┐Habla espanol?”

I said, “No.”

I asked again, “Driver’s license?”

He went to the car to get something out of the glove box. As he was doing that, I whipped out my digital camera and started taking pictures of his car, his license plate, him and his family in the car, etc. His wife looked extremely distraught, even more so when she saw me taking pictures.

He came back with a temporary insurance card which had expired in February. I copied down all the information, including the name and address on the card and asked for his driver’s license again. He didn’t seem to know what that meant, so I was about to show him mine when he suddenly understood said, “No. No license.”

At this point, I had a choice. I could have called the police and gotten a police report because I know the vehicle I was driving is insured for Uninsured Motorist. If I am hurt or have injuries from this, then insurance will only cover Uninsured Motorist if there is a police report.

Or I could count my blessings, hope that the bumper really wasn’t damaged and let the guy go.

Since I was going to be late to an appointment if I called the police, I decided to let him go and get on my way. I figured that taking all his info down probably scared him and his wife.

He seemed thankful when I said, “Ok, you go.” And he kept saying, “Sorry, sorry,” as he climbed into his car and drove off.

Now that I’m home, I’m wondering if I did the right thing. Upon closer inspection of the bumper, there are a couple of divots in the bumper where his car made impact, but luckily the person whose car it is says I don’t have to fix it. The person did tell me that I SHOULD have called the police just in case I’d been hurt. It was also pointed out to me that I should have called the police because this guy was responsible for what he’d done, and he should face whatever consequences for disobeying the law and driving around with no license or insurance. So this made me wonder, by letting him go, did I become part of the problem?

Did I do the right thing by letting him go? (No harm, no foul?)

Or should I have called the police? (You play, you pay?)

PS – The car’s owner also says I should post the photos I took, but I’ll hold off on that… for now…

26 thoughts on “Rear-ended by a guy with no drivers license, no insurance”

  1. Joz old pal. Immediately go to the police with your pictures and everything you have and file your counter police report. It is better than nothing, but helps document what happened.

    Insurance carriers look with distrust situations where there is no police report and nothing on the other driver when you are not their named policy holder. It is a frequent insurance scam and one that raises flags. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

    I have to applaud you for taking pictures immediately. Pictures are good. Make them part of the police report and the insurance claim.
    Especially pics of those in the car, you will need that should they come forward and claim you cut them off and slammed your breaks for no reason. (That happens sadly more often than you would think).

    It pays to immediately take pictures of the scene and other drivers (and passengers) to protect yourself and document the scene. IT also helps tremendously when you have to give statements as you have something to refer to.

    I have kept disposable camera in my glove boxes for years. They are invaluable and worth the investment.

    Statistally LA county something like 30% of the drivers are uninsured. In some pockets you can get more than 2/3 uninsured. If you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage on your policy you are asking for disaster. Make your Uninsured Motorist coverage as much as you take out on your liability coverage too…after all you should love yourself as much as the other guy. Get the most you can afford as when you get hit by an uninsured motorist you at least have something to fall back on if injured.

    With immediate neck pain that was justification for filing the report. Drop me a note in private and we can talk more.

  2. Call the cops. The unlicensed and uninsured need to be taken off the streets. Don’t post the pictures. It’d be petty and punitive (and what, is he going to be surfing the internet, see his photo posted and then feel shame? Or are we supposed to look him up and shake our fingers at him if we pass him on the street?).

    It does bring to mind, however, how flawed the system of mandatory insurance is, particularly in the face of governors and presidential candidates talking about universal mandatory health insurance. It’s something like one driver in eight who doesn’t have insurance despite requirements otherwise. Rates will almost certainly be worse for health insurance (it’s more expensive and you can’t decide not to have a body).

  3. It would be nice to be able to get the police to come take a report….BUT the LAPD has a policy of not responding to a traffic collision and taking a report unless there are injuries (meaning an ambulance responds).

    So don’t regret not calling the police…they wouldn’t have come (in the City of LA that is).

  4. Auto insurance is ridiculously high, but largely because of people like this who don’t even carry a license.

    It sucks the guy had a kid and wife with him, but in the case the same guy had caused damage, or worse – injury – he has no reason but to flee. Calling the cops in situations like this could prevent worse problems later on.

  5. Well, I guess I would say you did the “right” thing, as that’s possibly what I would do (and have done) in situations like the one you describe. I wouldn’t call the police in something that might be minor (no visible damage, no injuries) as I know that the other person is going to be in a heap of trouble, it might be easier for everyone if you just settle it there, even with a cash payment for anything broken.
    If he had no DL or insurance, it’s likely due to the changes in the law that have made this the inevitable sad reality for years to come.

  6. Rdizzle is right in that cops are not likely to respond to a non-injury accident scene, but they certainly would be responsive to one — injury or not — in which one of the involveds is lacking a license and insurance.

    Letting this guy go spared him a lot of grief whether it be a citation, the impounding of his vehicle or, if he’s here illegally, the potential for deportation.

    Personlly I’m torn between what you did. One part of me would’ve done the same thing, but the other part of me distrusts anything anybody says, and wouldn’t be surprised if a license got magically produced when someone wearing a badge asked for it.

    Definitely file the report. Don’t post the photos online.

  7. I guess I wasn’t clear enough, calling would have been good, but LAPD usually won’t respond unless its clear no insurance, then its still iffy. Do file the counter report at the correct office to cover yourself.

    Posting the pic of his car with the initial post would have served to illustrate but not be much use beyond that.

    Impounding of a car driven without insurance rarely happens even though it is the law. The other consequences are annoying at the time but I’d guess most wind up getting tossed once the cop is gone as the receiver figures they won’t get caught again, and they won’t.

    In the end if they aren’t going to drive with insurance, a license or whatever you still need to do what is needed to protect your back side when it comes time to file your uninsured motorist property and injury claims. If you don’t do it right at the beginning you do run the risk of dimishing your claim. In the end which is worse when you are injured, not being able to be made whole under your uninsured motorist coverage or letting the guy who hit you walk away free and clear?

  8. Happened to me once in 1976. I hit the guy up for cash on the spot as it seemed like the alternative would be getting zero.

    I have a friend who drives without a license or insurance. It’s because he can’t get them without papers. Sure he shouldn’t be here, but as long as he’s here and wants to buy insurance, I think he should be able to. Laws that prevent him from doing that only result in situations like this one.

    I’m in favor of returning to 15 years ago when a Driver’s License was just that, and not a legal resident ID card.

    I know not everyone agrees, so just my 2 pesos.

  9. To answer your question: “by letting him go, did I become part of the problem?”

    Yes, you did.

  10. I was rear ended by a guy a few years ago who was very cooperative, and after he gave me his telephone number, I found out he had no driver’s license. I had copied down his license plate, so I had some info, and when I got home, I discovered that he had given me a phony phone number. I immediately went to the police and was told that at that point, they didn’t think there was enough damage to my car to warrant a police report. There didn’t seem to be visible damage to the bumper, either.

    I went to my insurance company, and got an estimate, and discovered that while there didn’t appear to be visible damage, there was a large crease in the metal inside the trunk under the carpet. At that point, I went back to the police department and was able to file the report. It took a while while the insurance company tried to contact the registered owner (who of course never responded), but I was able to get the car fixed with my uninsured motorist coverage.

    I think given the circumstances you did the best thing for now. I would recommend getting an estimate because you never know the extent of damage, and as you said, insurance won’t cover anything without a police report. And, you know, people should follow the law and have driver’s licenses and insurance.

    My two cents…

  11. Frazgo’s right. Call the cops when there’s no injury, and you just end up wioth pissed off cops (trust me, I know…..a guy pulled that with me and the cop ended up giving him a ticket for too tinted windows caused he was pissed).
    But….as everyone said…..definately follow up with the pics.

  12. Most of the time when this kind of situation arises, you just ask for money on the spot. Some guys made a big dent in my friend’s car, he followed them to their house and they gave him $500 cash. It’s how it’s done between immigrants who might or might not have documents.

  13. I really disagree with the accepting money on the spot.

    I have seen so many people get screwed with that when they go to get the repairs done and find out there was a lot of damage hid under that flexible bummper cover most cars built in the 15+ years have on them. Suddenly they are making a claim with their insurance for the difference.

    What most don’t know is that your automobile police requires prompt or timely notice of a claim. The exact time isn’t defined but you have all sorts of problems and can affect your claim.

    You need to protect yourselves on all levels. A couple of red flags for potentially fraudulent claims that could open up a “special investigation unit” taking over your claim is late reporting.

    It’s nice to be a nice guy but you do need to watch your back in the process. The sad thing is that the nice guy is often mistaken for the doormat and they don’t know it until its too late.

  14. Hey 5000! For the record, I’m the person who first posted as Tom, and I did not make any other posts to this thread until now.

    I don’t particularly care to have as many illegal immigrants as we do, particularly in my part of town (which is not far from Joz’s accident). But that’s irrelevant here. The guy had no insurance.

    I’ve been screwed over by both U.S.A.-born and illegal “uninsured motorists” & hit and run drivers, and I’m sick of it. Lucky for Joz that she wasn’t terribly hurt, but she very well could have been, and the same guy can now go potentially hurt someone else. By trying to be nice, she has just put the rest of us at risk. Including you.

  15. Yes Frazgo, I guess I wouldn’t expect someone like yourself to do the money-on-the-spot resolution. Why would you when you have access to resources like insurance and you have no fear of the police? For a lot of people their only resource is cash and that’s how they take care of business. Also, most people I know (both legal and undocumented) avoid calling or involving the police whenever possible.
    You did the right thing Joz, thank you for putting human rights before property rights.

  16. Find the nearest CHP office, and pick up a blue report form. When you contact your insurance company, they will want a report number, and may have to call the owner’s insurance company too with the same information.

  17. as somebody who has suffered SEVERE migraines from car whiplash days after the accident, i would definitely try to file a police report, because neck pain is so tricky and you want to make sure you have coverage if you need to go to the dr for it… (esp if you felt pain immediately)

    Speaking from experience, health insurance can be so weird about neck/chiropractic stuff (and most neck injuries require weeks if not months of proper treatment), it’s best to have your bases covered financially.

    Hope this helps, and I hope your neck/head is feeling better… (oh- and I’ve also had the “no ambulance, no police” situation, so don’t feel bad about not calling when it happened, because I agree- they might not have come without a “serious” injury.. but definitely follow up and go with the photos to the station)

  18. I agree with Daisy, neck pain or any sort of pain sometimes does not surface for days. As someone who was in a car accident over a month ago, I am still going to physical therapy. I did not find out the driver who hit me did not have insurance until weeks after the accident. I am not sure if the CHP Blue Report mentioned by Proto is the same as the DMV SR1 Form, but it allows you to list the name, address of the other driver, as well as state that the other driver did not have insurance. Hope your neck will be ok.

  19. I wouldn’t have called the cops of course all of the worse cases could happen, but chances are you don’t have whiplash and you did a good deed by saving this guy all kinds of trouble.

    The system is way too tough on people who just don’t have the money.

    The same thing has happened to me twice and I’ve always let it go, because I just think the system the way it’s set up is unfair. I’m not going to be a party to someone going down in that kind of way. I’ve got the money to take care of things if they do happen, so what would be the point, proving a point?

    If they made getting a ticket the way they do in Finland where your ticket is based on the severity of the crime and take home pay, then possibly I’d call the police in case of a problem, but probably not, but that would at least be fair.

    I just couldn’t sleep at night knowing that I put someone on an economic freefall or got them deported for a car.

    Material item vs someone’s life (and to me economics is someone’s life, that’s how they abuse you in the states with money or lack of it…) to me there is no debate in what I would do, have done and will do, though if you didn’t want to do that I wouldn’t judge you (if you’re a conservative or a moderate, but if you claim you’re liberal, yeah I probably would judge you and think you were a bit of self righteous bs,) just talking about me. Sort of, kind of…


  20. Cars are overated.
    No harm no foul.
    Don’t waste your time looking into thinking about posting this.
    Don’t waste your ego thinking there’s a bigger picture.
    No insurance or license or english doesn’t an illegal immigrant make.

  21. Hey Joz,

    I cannot stress STRONGLY enough the fact that just b/c your neck doesn’t hurt RIGHT NOW, that doesn’t mean it won’t in the future. I was involved in a pretty significant accident that got my car totaled when I was hit by a drunk driver, but I felt COMPLETELY fine at the time, and even for weeks after, and didn’t do anything to treat it, and it turns out that a after a few more weeks my neck started hurting, and I now have myofacial (muscle) neck pain serious enough to cause migraines and get to the point where I can’t even function!

    I’ve had to see doctors and do PT and take all sorts of drugs, so given that you DID felt it at the time, you NEED to start treating it ASAP, and be prepared for further complications down the road–living with this sucks BIG TIME, and treating it sooner would’ve helped, but in case there isn’t anything you can do, you at least need to have that police report so you can make claims against your insurance and get coverage for (god forbid) any treatment you may needin the future!

    Just a thought for everyone else to consider who think it’s as simple as deciding to call the cops or not based on the injured to the CAR–if it was hard enough a hit to give her that kind of whiplash at the time, she needs to protect HERSELF first, and then worry about the other person–b/c it won’t be the other person going to the doctor months/years from now and in pain and suffering… JM2C tho.

  22. That’s the problem with the current licensing laws. No legal status = no drivers license = no insurance. No matter how conscientious an illegal immigrant is, no matter how much Federal and State withholding is forfeited to work here, there is no way an unlicensed driver can be insured. What it comes down to is if drivers licenses were _not_ used as a valid ID they could be obtainable by people with residence issues and the folks that need compensation after an accident can get it.

    Mind you, I am assuming that the person that hit you was actually an illegal alien. Apologies in advance for my stereotyping.

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