Q: Am I obligated by law to pay for repairs?
In June ‘22 I was in a minor fender-bender where I hit the rear bumper of another car (damage was only a small crack). The other party agreed to work outside of insurance and I agreed to pay for the damage but only directly to the collision center. Months went by and I kept getting excuses on why the other party has yet to go to the collision center to start the repairs. Now 7 months later, the other party reached out and said they will be taking the car to the shop but I’ve been laid off last month and am not in a financial position to pay. Am I still obligated to pay by law? What can I do?
Yes. When you cause an accident, you are legally obligated under Georgia law to pay for the damages you caused. The statute of limitations in Georgia for property damage to a vehicle is four years, meaning the other party could wait until June 2026 before filing suit against you and yet still have every right under the law to recover damages from you.
The more serious concern to me is that you did not report the accident to your insurance carrier. Now, because more than six months have passed, your insurer may decline to provide coverage to you because you failed to give the insurer prompt notice of the wreck. I suggest immediately reporting the wreck to your insurer and hoping the insurer does not elect to take such a hardline position (i.e., declining coverage) and, instead, simply pays the other driver for his/her property damage.
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