Portland, OR asked in Car Accidents and Insurance Defense for Oregon

Q: Broke car now running and had a minor fender bender ( $1k dmg.) I had no insurance at the time. What to do?

Just went to get gas and pulling out of driveway bumped driver headed down the road. Bent in the fender and cracked the bumper cover. Gave my # and offered reimbursement to driver. His car was rented from Ziopcar.

1 Lawyer Answer
Joanne Reisman
Joanne Reisman
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Portland, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: I am sure that he turned it over to his insurance or the Zipcar insurance. Someone will call you and ask you to pay the bill. Don't be suckered however. Only pay the repair bill if it includes a complete release of ALL LIABILITY for the accident and from the driver. Keep in mind that this driver has a separate right to get his own attorney and claim that he had a personal injury. His insurance will have paid his medical bills through his PIP coverage.

So there could be 3 different groups coming after you and you don't know it yet - the insurance company for Zipcare (or the driver) that paid to fix the car, the insurance company that paid for the PIP medical bills, and the driver through an Attorney for injuries and additional medical bills. Also if the company that owns the care, Zipcar, has a separate right to sue you for their car being damages so releasing them doesn't end the nightmare. You need both parties, the car owner and the driver to release you. The driver has up to 2 years to file a claim against you in court and if the car claim can be filed separately because it is owned by the Zipcar company, they have up to six years to take you to court.

Because a judgment against your for damages in an uninsured car accident could result in you losing your license until the Judgment gets paid, you may end up having to file bankruptcy. So don't make the mistake that a lot of people make and pay of one branch of related damages, only to find out that the other two branches are coming after you and that will push you to bankruptcy. At least don't pay anyone if bankruptcy is the end game plan.

Alternatively, figure out how much money you can afford to spend and hire an attorney to contact all possible effected parties and give them an all or nothing proposition - pay out some $$ and get everyone to sign a release. Weight the cost of doing this against the cost of bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is usually cheaper and easier. But until someone actually comes after you, you can wait and see. You can assume that after two years the driver is not going to make a claim IF the driver was over age 18 at the time of the accident. (If he was under age 18 he has more time to decide if he his going to make a claim.)

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