T Nation

Legal Help Regarding Car Accident

About a year ago I bought a new (very old) car from a friend. At about the same time my insurance expired on my old vehicle and in the month period between insurance policies I was involved in an accident–and I was at fault (I know, I’m a fucking idiot for getting into this situation in the first place).

Long story short, the other guy’s insurance company is looking to me to pay for his repairs (no surprise there). The problem is I’m a poor-as-hell college student, making a few dollars more than minimum wage, I don’t live at home, and I have no way of coming up with over $4,000 or $250 a month–which is what they are asking for or, to quote their letter directly (which I received on my birthday!), they will “take immediate legal action.”

They’ve given me two weeks to respond. I plan on at least sitting down with a lawyer for a consultation, but I am wondering if any of you have had any experience with this type of situation? Any advice would be helpful…

Oh, I live in California if that makes a difference…

[quote]LBRTRN wrote:
About a year ago I bought a new (very old) car from a friend. At about the same time my insurance expired on my old vehicle and in the month period between insurance policies I was involved in an accident–and I was at fault (I know, I’m a fucking idiot for getting into this situation in the first place).

Long story short, the other guy’s insurance company is looking to me to pay for his repairs (no surprise there). The problem is I’m a poor-as-hell college student, making a few dollars more than minimum wage, I don’t live at home, and I have no way of coming up with over $4,000 or $250 a month–which is what they are asking for or, to quote their letter directly (which I received on my birthday!), they will “take immediate legal action.”

They’ve given me two weeks to respond. I plan on at least sitting down with a lawyer for a consultation, but I am wondering if any of you have had any experience with this type of situation? Any advice would be helpful…

Oh, I live in California if that makes a difference…[/quote]

You’re in a bad way, man. When you say you were at fault, is that the finding on a police report? If so, forget about it. You’re totally on the hook.

I don’t know what CA requires insurance wise. If the police responded to an accident you were involved in and you didnt have insurance in most states, you would be getting boned for that too(the ticket is steep and usually carries a license suspension).

I wish I could help, but this sounds like one of those situations in life that there is no way out of.

Time to look for a second job.

[quote]JD430 wrote:
LBRTRN wrote:
About a year ago I bought a new (very old) car from a friend. At about the same time my insurance expired on my old vehicle and in the month period between insurance policies I was involved in an accident–and I was at fault (I know, I’m a fucking idiot for getting into this situation in the first place).

Long story short, the other guy’s insurance company is looking to me to pay for his repairs (no surprise there). The problem is I’m a poor-as-hell college student, making a few dollars more than minimum wage, I don’t live at home, and I have no way of coming up with over $4,000 or $250 a month–which is what they are asking for or, to quote their letter directly (which I received on my birthday!), they will “take immediate legal action.”

They’ve given me two weeks to respond. I plan on at least sitting down with a lawyer for a consultation, but I am wondering if any of you have had any experience with this type of situation? Any advice would be helpful…

Oh, I live in California if that makes a difference…

You’re in a bad way, man. When you say you were at fault, is that the finding on a police report? If so, forget about it. You’re totally on the hook.

I don’t know what CA requires insurance wise. If the police responded to an accident you were involved in and you didnt have insurance in most states, you would be getting boned for that too(the ticket is steep and usually carries a license suspension).

I wish I could help, but this sounds like one of those situations in life that there is no way out of.

Time to look for a second job.

[/quote]

Ya, I was waved through a line of traffic while turning left into a shopping center; as it turns out, it wasn’t quite as clear as I was led to believe–it’s my fault for trusting someone else’s judgment. The police did show up, and it was definitely my fault. I lost my license for a year; of course, the year didn’t start until about three months after the accident so I’m still without a license, except to and from work. I also had to pay a $1,000 dollar fine–not to mention I had to buy a new car and pay impound fees. There went the rest of my college savings account…

I knew it was only a matter of time before the other guy’s insurance came after me. Now I’m just not sure what course of action to take. As it is, I’m already in debt because of school. I mean, even if they get a judgment against me, that doesn’t change my ability to pay–you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, after all. I really don’t know how to proceed. One of life’s lessons learned the hard way, I guess…

[quote]LBRTRN wrote:
JD430 wrote:
LBRTRN wrote:
About a year ago I bought a new (very old) car from a friend. At about the same time my insurance expired on my old vehicle and in the month period between insurance policies I was involved in an accident–and I was at fault (I know, I’m a fucking idiot for getting into this situation in the first place).

Long story short, the other guy’s insurance company is looking to me to pay for his repairs (no surprise there). The problem is I’m a poor-as-hell college student, making a few dollars more than minimum wage, I don’t live at home, and I have no way of coming up with over $4,000 or $250 a month–which is what they are asking for or, to quote their letter directly (which I received on my birthday!), they will “take immediate legal action.”

They’ve given me two weeks to respond. I plan on at least sitting down with a lawyer for a consultation, but I am wondering if any of you have had any experience with this type of situation? Any advice would be helpful…

Oh, I live in California if that makes a difference…

You’re in a bad way, man. When you say you were at fault, is that the finding on a police report? If so, forget about it. You’re totally on the hook.

I don’t know what CA requires insurance wise. If the police responded to an accident you were involved in and you didnt have insurance in most states, you would be getting boned for that too(the ticket is steep and usually carries a license suspension).

I wish I could help, but this sounds like one of those situations in life that there is no way out of.

Time to look for a second job.

Ya, I was waved through a line of traffic while turning left into a shopping center; as it turns out, it wasn’t quite as clear as I was led to believe–it’s my fault for trusting someone else’s judgment. The police did show up, and it was definitely my fault. I lost my license for a year; of course, the year didn’t start until about three months after the accident so I’m still without a license, except to and from work. I also had to pay a $1,000 dollar fine–not to mention I had to buy a new car and pay impound fees. There went the rest of my college savings account…

I knew it was only a matter of time before the other guy’s insurance came after me. Now I’m just not sure what course of action to take. As it is, I’m already in debt because of school. I mean, even if they get a judgment against me, that doesn’t change my ability to pay–you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, after all. I really don’t know how to proceed. One of life’s lessons learned the hard way, I guess…
[/quote]

Negotiate with them. Offer half. If they balk tell them to get the judgement and come after you. Most companies will settle, to save the legal costs. At least you’ll cut your exposure back. Never take the first offer in any situation like that.

Negotiating a payment plan is a good first step. If that doesn’t work, there’s always a bankrupty filing. It won’t discharge your student loans but it may discharge the accident debt.

I say “may” because the insurance company may try to say that the debt is one that shouldn’t be discharged because it involved a “willful or malicious injury,” but as a general rule, unless there was alcohol or drugs involved, a plain old auto accident is not a “willful or malicious injury.”

[quote]hedo wrote:
LBRTRN wrote:
JD430 wrote:
LBRTRN wrote:
About a year ago I bought a new (very old) car from a friend. At about the same time my insurance expired on my old vehicle and in the month period between insurance policies I was involved in an accident–and I was at fault (I know, I’m a fucking idiot for getting into this situation in the first place).

Long story short, the other guy’s insurance company is looking to me to pay for his repairs (no surprise there). The problem is I’m a poor-as-hell college student, making a few dollars more than minimum wage, I don’t live at home, and I have no way of coming up with over $4,000 or $250 a month–which is what they are asking for or, to quote their letter directly (which I received on my birthday!), they will “take immediate legal action.”

They’ve given me two weeks to respond. I plan on at least sitting down with a lawyer for a consultation, but I am wondering if any of you have had any experience with this type of situation? Any advice would be helpful…

Oh, I live in California if that makes a difference…

You’re in a bad way, man. When you say you were at fault, is that the finding on a police report? If so, forget about it. You’re totally on the hook.

I don’t know what CA requires insurance wise. If the police responded to an accident you were involved in and you didnt have insurance in most states, you would be getting boned for that too(the ticket is steep and usually carries a license suspension).

I wish I could help, but this sounds like one of those situations in life that there is no way out of.

Time to look for a second job.

Ya, I was waved through a line of traffic while turning left into a shopping center; as it turns out, it wasn’t quite as clear as I was led to believe–it’s my fault for trusting someone else’s judgment. The police did show up, and it was definitely my fault. I lost my license for a year; of course, the year didn’t start until about three months after the accident so I’m still without a license, except to and from work. I also had to pay a $1,000 dollar fine–not to mention I had to buy a new car and pay impound fees. There went the rest of my college savings account…

I knew it was only a matter of time before the other guy’s insurance came after me. Now I’m just not sure what course of action to take. As it is, I’m already in debt because of school. I mean, even if they get a judgment against me, that doesn’t change my ability to pay–you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, after all. I really don’t know how to proceed. One of life’s lessons learned the hard way, I guess…

Negotiate with them. Offer half. If they balk tell them to get the judgement and come after you. Most companies will settle, to save the legal costs. At least you’ll cut your exposure back. Never take the first offer in any situation like that.
[/quote]

Agreed. Negotiation and a payment plan is the way out. If this goes to court, you will eat up $4,000 in legal fees and expenses in no time flat and still in the end (after expending many more dollars in fees and expenses) owing for the damages. Can you identify who waved you into oncoming traffic. There may another party at least partially liable for causing this accident.

By the way, I found it a little ironic that a libertarian would be contemplating finding a way around the basic rule of “you pay for what you break”.

[quote]Loose Tool wrote:

By the way, I found it a little ironic that a libertarian would be contemplating finding a way around the basic rule of “you pay for what you break”.[/quote]

Well, I wasn’t trying to find a way out of paying, I was trying to get advice on what I should do considering the two options I was presented with were completely unworkable–I don’t exactly have a lot of experience with this sort of thing.

Aside from that, everyone’s advice was spot on, so thank you. I spoke to a representative and I was surprised to learn they didn’t even know anything about me (my living situation, income, etc.). Once I explained everything they were very accommodating and we agreed on a payment plan that I’m comfortable with–when I’m thirty, it will all be payed off! Thanks again for the advice!

You should have gotten out, bent up up your liscence platge and drove off. Thats my advice.

[quote]LBRTRN wrote:
Loose Tool wrote:

By the way, I found it a little ironic that a libertarian would be contemplating finding a way around the basic rule of “you pay for what you break”.

Well, I wasn’t trying to find a way out of paying, I was trying to get advice on what I should do considering the two options I was presented with were completely unworkable–I don’t exactly have a lot of experience with this sort of thing.

Aside from that, everyone’s advice was spot on, so thank you. I spoke to a representative and I was surprised to learn they didn’t even know anything about me (my living situation, income, etc.). Once I explained everything they were very accommodating and we agreed on a payment plan that I’m comfortable with–when I’m thirty, it will all be payed off! Thanks again for the advice!
[/quote]

Good man. The world could use a few more like you.