You are involved in a car accident.  The drivers decide not to exchange insurance information. This is usually because one of the drivers convinces the other driver that they will pay for the damages themselves.  So, you exchange contact information and leave the scene.  Is this a smart thing to do?  Well, it depends on which driver you are asking.

The Innocent Driver.

If you are the party who is not at fault in the accident, then you have a potential problem.  Usually, car repairs cost more than you think.  Additionally, damages can be more extensive then than they appear on the surface.  When you take your car into the body shop, you might be surprised at how much it will cost to fix your vehicle.

Once you get the estimate, you try to call the other driver.  You hope he will honor his agreement to pay for the repairs.  At first, he seems cooperative and says he will pay.  Then, you try to collect.  Suddenly, the other driver becomes evasive and soon doesn’t even answer your calls.

Your Options When The Other Driver Fails to Pay.

When you feel like you have done all you can and the other driver fails to pay, here are your options:

File a Lawsuit.

Since the damages in these situations tend to be relatively small, filing a lawsuit in small claims court might be an option.  The procedures are fairly informal and you usually do not need an attorney.

However, if you file the suit and the other driver then reports it to his insurance, the insurance company will hire an attorney to defend the driver you sued.  Why?  Because they are required to do so.

Now, you have an attorney on the other side that will do everything in his power to make your life miserable.  He will do things like send you a bunch of paperwork, which basically has no meaning in small claims case.  But one other thing he will do is request a jury trial.  That he can do.  So, now what was supposed to be a simple small claims case becomes a more intimidating jury trial.

File the Claim on Your Own Policy.

Your next option is to file the claim on your own policy.  This is probably the best option for you.  If you had collision coverage or uninsured motorist coverage, your insurance will pay for the damages and go after the other driver for reimbursement.  Trust me, your insurance company has ways of getting the other driver to either pay up or hand over his insurance information.

If you have to pay a deductible, then your insurance company will refund your deductible once they collect from the other driver or his insurance.

If you did not have either collision or UM coverage, then your options have become limited.

Pay for the Damages Yourself and Learn a Valuable Life-Lesson.

Many people only carry liability insurance.  Also, lawsuits are intimidating to many people.  So, your only option is to pay for the damages yourself.  Ultimately, you may learn a  good life-lesson:  You cannot necessarily trust people to do the right thing when it comes to money.  Next time, you will exchange all the proper information after a car accident, including:

  1. The name, address, and telephone numbers of the drivers;
  2. Drivers license numbers;
  3. Insurance company name and policy number.
The Guilty Driver.

If you are the driver who is most likely at-fault in the accident, you might think you do not want a claim on your insurance.  So, you agree to pay for the damages yourself.  However, you face the risk of the damages being more than you bargained for.  And, if the other driver decides to sue you, then you may have to report the claim to your insurance anyway so they can provide you with a legal defense.

However, if don’t pay, then you may get sued and get hit with a big judgment.  And if you fail to pay the judgment, it will be recorded in the county records and may end up on your credit.  More importantly, the other driver can apply to get you drivers license and car registration suspended until you pay the judgment.

Moreover, if you wait too long to notify and cooperate with your insurance company, you could waive coverage.  This will result in you not getting the help from your insurance company in order to avoid all those bad things that can happen to you.

And in the End….

Your best bet is to exchange all the information and cooperate with your insurance company.  If it really is a minor accident, you might not see an increase in your premiums.  But even if your premiums increase, the cost will probably be far less than the financial burdens of paying out of your own pocket or incurring a judgment.

So, considering all the different scenarios, it is in everyone’s interest to exchange all the relevant information listed above.  After all, that is why we buy insurance in the first place.  What’s the use of paying for insurance if you are not going to enjoy it privileges and protections.

Consult for FREE with Robert C. Slim

Robert C. Slim is only licensed to practice in Texas. If your case occurred outside of Texas, you should consult with an attorney in that jurisdiction.

9 Comments

  • Posted September 13, 2019

    Elisabeth Southgate

    I found it helpful when you said that filing a claim on your own policy is probably your best option when you agreed to not exchange insurance information at the time of the accident and they failed to pay. My cousin was recently in a situation similar to this. He will be interested to know that he can still file the claim with his insurance.

  • Posted March 26, 2019

    Mary

    I bumped a car from behind 2 days ago, basically a tap. We pulled over and she agreed there was no damage. We didn’t exchange insurance info, just phone numbers. Now 2 days later she is telling me there is some damage to get car, which was a rental. What should I do? Can she file a claim? How do I know it was from me and it didn’t occur at another time?

  • Posted February 1, 2019

    Hirako

    I hit a car on a 4 way stop, i got minor scratch on the front of my car and the car that i hit the same and a little dent, the owner said that car was a lease car and we agreed not to exchange insurance and no police report, i gave the guy my DL can he do a claim against me without him having my car insurance ?

  • Posted February 1, 2019

    hirako

    I have hit a car on a 4 way stop my car got little scratch on the front and his passenger door got scratch and a little dent, we agreed not to involve insurance and cops i gave him my DL , can he go after me? without my insurance information?

    • Posted February 1, 2019

      Robert C. Slim

      Yes he can. That’s why you should go ahead and notify your insurance company. If you don’t, then they might not provide you with a legal defense if this person decides to use you.

  • Posted April 2, 2018

    Jackie

    Question, I was involved in a fender bender accident a day ago pulling out of a parking lot. When I checked my mirrors all seemed clear and I started to pull out. The other driver involved “didn’t see me” and stated she wasn’t paying attention and drove past me causing us to make contact and her passenger doors to get hit as she continued driving after impact until she realized what had just happened and stopped, she got out and started apologizing immediately and claiming fault to the incident. Come to find out the other driver was 17 yrs old and just started driving recently. At the time I did not have a copy of the insurance on my car, and we exchanged information. I got her insurance information, drivers license, contact number and email address. I on the other hand only had a copy of my I.D. and gave her that information. She took pictures of both vehicles (potentially getting my plates in at least one photo due to the damage being on my bumper) and I only took a photo of my car (later wishing I had gotten pictures of her car as well but was frazzled in the moment). The authorities were not contacted as I didn’t deem it necessary bc the wreck seemed minimal and the other driver was very compliant. My insurance is covered on my fathers policy and I am not listed as a driver on there. I found out later to my despair when I contacted him for a copy of it for me to send to the other driver. He is not giving me the insurance information so I technically have nothing to provide the other driver with. The other drivers father has been calling and texting me very aggressively and in a slightly threatening way demanding my insurance and DL information. Now their insurance company is calling me. I was contacted several times by an unknown number and when someone asked for me I stated they had the wrong number bc I thought it was a sales call or bill collector of some sort. Later to realize that it was their insurance company and I denied their call. So my question is, what do I do now? I live in Texas, and that is where the accident occurred. I believe that the wreck was the other persons fault, but given the circumstance(s) I am at a loss on what to do now. Looking for the right thing to do in this situation. Please let me know what you think! Thanks.

    • Posted April 2, 2018

      Robert C. Slim

      Your father needs to give up the insurance information. He is just putting you on the line by not disclosing it. Or, give your father’s contact information to the other insurance adjuster and tell them to call your father directly. But, it sounds like the accident may be ruled your fault since you were pulling out of a parking lot. Therefore, you really need your insurance company to intervene on your behalf.

      • Posted April 2, 2018

        Jackie

        Thank you for your prompt response. How would the process work if I get the insurance information, considering I am not a driver on the policy? I have never been in this situation and the coverage was only supposed to be temporary until I got my own sorted out. I also have my old DL as the other one was stolen recently and haven’t gotten a copy of the new one yet due to paying off some old surcharge I recently found out that was left unpaid for some time. Should I call their insurance company back, or wait? What am I looking at if my father doesn’t give up the insurance information?

        • Posted April 2, 2018

          Robert C. Slim

          Unless you are expressly excluded as a driver on the policy, then you are covered so long as you are operating the vehicle with the permission and consent of the owner. If you do not get the insurance information, then the other driver’s insurance will pay the claim for the other vehicle and then come after you for reimbursement. They will assign it to a collections agency and even file a lawsuit against you. Then, they will get your license suspended until you pay the judgment. That’s why you need your insurance company to intervene and “nip this in the bud.”. Tell you father he may also be on the hook for negligent entrustment if he is the owner of the car and you did not have a valid license in effect at the time of the accident.

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