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William B. Esq.
William B. Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3239
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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Hello, my son was recently in a car accident while driving

Resolved Question:

Hello, my son was recently in a car accident while driving his friend's truck. He was found at fault for following too close. The friend's parents only carried PLPD (we are in Michigan), and the friend's parents are claiming the truck is a total loss.

We were told that they paid $1000 for the truck 9 months ago, and I have seen it myself it was in less than fair condition before the accident.

Trying to do what's right, my husband and I offered to pay something toward a new truck for my son's friend. The parents are asking us to pay $1000 because they would like to get their son something nicer this time.

I agreed to pay the $1000, although I didn't think it was fair. It was an honest accident and both boys were at fault. The friend should not have let my son drive his truck and my son should not have driven it. However, the friend's parents knew that my son drove the truck often, and that day the friend had asked my son to drive because he was tired.

We are also paying consequences from this accident as well. My son is facing points on his license and also a suspension as he is only 16 years old. My insurance rates are going to skyrocket and we will not be buying him his own vehicle any time soon due to this.

My only condition for paying the $1000 was that the parents sign over the title to us. My husband wanted to take the truck in for scrap and estimates it is worth between $200 and $400.

The parent's are angry and refusing to sign over the title. I know it's not much money but I am standing my ground on the principle of it. I don't think we should be held totally responsible for the entire cost of the vehicle. Am I wrong to ask for the title? Are we legally responsible to pay what they ask?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  William B. Esq. replied 1 year ago.

William B. Esq. :

Dear Customer, thank you for choosing Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I would like to assist you today.

William B. Esq. :

I am happy to hear that both boys are okay following the accident. You are correct that the parents and the other boy bear responsibility for allowing your son to drive the vehicle if he was not supposed to be driving it for whatever reason. Their permission amounts to what is considered "contributory negligence"

William B. Esq. :

As far as the split in liability and the right of signing over the vehicle, that (as you seem to be aware) is a matter of negotiations between the two of you, but you do have a legal basis to argue that the parents do bear some responsibility for the accident, and the fact that your son was given "permissive use" of the vehicle means that they do bear some additional risk in this transaction.

William B. Esq. :

Furthermore, the family is not entitled to a "newer" or "nicer" vehicle, they would be entitled to a vehicle of the same or similar condition as that involved in the collision (or a cash value for that). The value of the other vehicle should be subtracted from that (cost of vehicle as it was - salvage value = total recover as between combined liability).

Customer:

Thank you William! I have one more question about this. Since they only have PLPD if they turn this into their insurance company won't their insurance company have grounds to recover from mine since my son is covered under my policy? I am thinking they are trying to avoid turning it in so their rates won't go up.

Customer:

In either case my insurance is going to go up significantly. Also, for all I know the vehicle may be able to be repaired cheaply. I don't feel the other parties are being honest about the condition/value of the vehicle as it stands now.

Customer:

Which is one reason why we would like the title signed over to us.

William B. Esq. :

I will have to do some additional research on the nuances of the PLPD insurance policies (we have a slightly different policy plan in place in my state - I can do the research on it shortly if you like), but in answer to your question, I have a feeling you are right, if they can get you to split the costs of covering the entire accident they can avoid turning it in to their insurance, and thus avoid a claim (increased premiums etc).


Have they made a claim against your insurance (the other driver?)

Customer:

The other driver went away in an ambulance claiming back pain after i witnessed her jumping up and down and waiving her arms around at the scene. Her friend encouraged her to go as a precaution I guess, but we haven't heard anything back from her. Would this go to my insurance or the friend's?

William B. Esq. :

Usually it goes first to the vehicle owner's. Your son is liable for his own torts (meaning that he is responsible for driving the vehicle in the accident, but most policies cover the vehicle, plus any drivers).

Customer:

Sorry, I'm just frustrated! I thought the offer of $1000 with exchange of title was generous. Many people I know would have walked away without offering a dime, but I have a conscience! Not sure what to do from here. The fact that they won't turn over the title, which is such a simple and request in my opinion, bothers me. I think they may have an offer to get more out of it. Like I said the $1000 is not really the issue. Feeling like I'm being treated unfairly is the issue.

Customer:

Okay I appreciate your advice. So just let me be sure I understand you correctly before we part.

Customer:

The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that my son and the friend share responsibility. We are liable for helping to replace the vehicle to some extent. Which would be the cost they paid for it minus the value as it stands now. Not the blue book price right? And how will I know what to pay if they aren't being honest about the value of it as it stands now? Finally, if the other driver sues it will affect the insurance of the friend not our insurance. My son will only be responsible for taking the points for the ticket and then my insurance increase due to the citation?

William B. Esq. :

That is correct. (The only other negative that may arise, is if there is a significant claim on the insurance, the carrier may seek recourse from your son for medical costs etc. as part of the contributory liability - this does not appear to be an issue given the type of accident you have described, I just want to clarify).

Customer:

I hope not. The other truck was hit in the rear and only had minor damages. I was surprised that the woman went by ambulance. I hope she's not setting up for a lawsuit! :(

Customer:

Also, she lives at a local motel, yes I said "motel" not hotel, as if that would make much of a difference. I hate to sound nasty, but it seems she would have reason to seek $

William B. Esq. :

I hope not for everyone's sake (including hers), litigation is unpleasant and takes far too much effort for a frivolous claim or "shake down"

Customer:

Let's hope not. Thanks so much Bill! I think I am going to hold firm on the title issue. I will give the $1000 only with the exchange of title. I think that is more than fair to them.

Customer:

And it will also allow us to know the truck's true value in the state it's in.

William B. Esq. :

That is true (plus you will get the "use value" of the vehicle if appropriate)

Customer:

Absolutely. Thanks so much! This is a great service. Although I do have one small complaint. I was told i would only be charged $5 until I was fully satisfied at which time the remainder would be charged to my cc. I checked my Paypal account right after sending the request and I was already charged the full $36.00. I think it's worth it, however and will rate you "Excellent". I did feel deceived though by what seemed like a bit of false advertising.

Customer:

I am glad to pay the $ as I am fully satisfied, but that was misleading is the point I am trying to make. Maybe you could pass that on for me? Thanks! :)

William B. Esq. :

(I wish I had more to do with the business end, I don't. But I will pass it along for you, my apologies for the miscommunication or lack there of, I truly was unaware of anything like that).

Customer:

No problem. You have been wonderful to work with. Have a great evening!

William B. Esq. :

Thank you very much, and you do the same.

William B. Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3239
Experience: Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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