It’s a very common scenario. You got into a car accident that wasn’t your fault. The other driver is very apologetic and says he will pay for the damages himself. He asks that you not exchange insurance information or call the police. He gives you his name and all his contact information. You are convinced that this person is being sincere and you leave the accident scene with the belief that the other driver will be true to his word.
Days later, you get a few estimates for the damages and try and contact the other driver. He doesn’t answer his phone nor return your messages. You finally reach him only to have him say something like: “Don’t worry, just get your car fixed and I’ll take care of it.” Or, he might even say “I don’t have the money right now.” Either way, you get some sort of excuse and the phone call is quickly ended.
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Frankly, I am surprise that people still fall for it. So, now what are your options?
Option No. 1: Contact your insurance company and report the accident.
Actually, you should have done this from the very beginning. Your insurance company has more clout in getting the necessary insurance information from the other driver. Once you report the claim,the adjuster will investigate the accident. Part of the investigation is to contact the other driver and obtain their insurance information. Why? Because if your insurance company pays your claim, they will seek reimbursement from the other driver or his insurance company.
Option No. 2: Pay to get your car fixed and sue the other driver.
This is not the best option, but it may be the only option you have. If you only had basic liability insurance, then you may have to come out of pocket for the damages. You can then sue the other driver to get reimbursed for your repair expenses and any other damages your may have suffered. Small claims court may be best option for you depending on the amount of damages your are seeking.
Option No. 3: Get estimates and sue the other driver.
Your only other option is to get two or three reliable repair estimates and sue the other driver. The problem with this option is that your estimates may not be any good after the time it takes to get to court. Additionally, there maybe other damages that were not visible. Once you get judgment, you cannot go back to court and sue again.
If the other driver had insurance, it will be flushed out one way or the other. Either your insurance company will scare the other driver into giving up their insurance information, or your can get the information during the court process if you choose to go that route.
But the easiest and best way to get the insurance information is to insist on it at the scene. If the other driver resists your efforts, then call the police and tell them to send an officer to help facilitate the exchange of information.