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

October 14, 2007 at 7:42 pm in Driving

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…

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