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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 118635
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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My car was hit on Thursday while it was parked. The driver

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My car was hit on Thursday while it was parked. The driver walked in to my office and confessed that he "bumped my car." I stepped out to look at the damages and he caused damage to the driver side fender and door. He said he wanted to take care of it cash and didn't want to go through insurance. I said fine and asked him to pick a shop and he chose, what I later found out, the most unethical shop in the city. Originally , I thought he chose that shop because his dad is friends with the owner and figured he'd get a good deal on the repairs. He paid to have the car towed to their facility and told them to provide him an estimate for the repairs. In order for them to pick up my car I had to sign a waiver stating that its my vehicle and I'm allowing them to work on it. I didn't know at the time that I basically signed ownership to any charges that are not paid for by the driver or his insurance. Two days later the auto shop gave him a quote for $4600.00 in repairs and labor. I received a phone call from his insurance company wanting to obtain information and that they would cover all the costs for the repair. I was asked by the insurance rep about having the shop work on the repairs all she said was that they are known to not be cooperative with insurance company. That gave me enough reason to start researching and I did. Typically, this shop does not go by what the insurance estimate is, they only go by what they say is the estimate. So out of the 4600.00 in damages insurance covers two then they hold your car hostage until the other 2600 is paid plus storage fees between the time the work is completed til the victim picks it up. In addition, their work is average at best. I quickly wanted the car moved to a shop I trust. In order to get the car out I had to pay 926.00 for the work needed to come with the estimate. I told the shop the guy who hit me should be responsible for that charge since he requested the estimate and they said no because its my car. To avoid adding more charges I paid it and took it to my shop. I asked his insurance about paying the 926 and they declined because they can only cover expenses they approve, not the expenses by the driver before the insurance got involved. Who do I sue, its not right that I had to pay that money for doing nothing wrong. By the way the insurance estimate came back with 1100 so they would of stuck me for 3500 if I had left the car there.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

Their insurance should include the towing costs for the estimate and if they are refusing, you can refuse to settle with them as well. You need to hold your ground with the adjuster handling the case and inform them that the cost of the tow for their insured to take it to the shop is their liabilty as it was their insured who asked for it to be towed to that shop. Your other option legally is you can take the insurance repairs and inform the insurance that you will not release the owner for the towing fees and sue the owner in small claims court to recover the towing fees. Your third option is submit the towing fee to your insurance company if you have comprehensive coverage and they will pay and pursue his insurance and the owner as well to get reimbursement.

These are your legal options.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

He paid for the towing fees that day over the phone. The 926.00 is the cost to create the estimate. I.E removal of the damaged pieces and figuring out the replacement cost for the damage. The towing fees were not part of the 926.00

Thank you for your clarification, but the principle is still the same, his insurance and the driver/owner are liable for that expense and not you and you need to negotiate with his insurance first and if they continue to refuse the same alternatives above would still apply.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I asked them that and they said they are not liable because he was the one who requested an estimate from the bad shop before the insurance got involved. Remember, he requested the estimate and when he found out the cost he moved it to insurance days after the shop tore down the vehicle and had it in their possession.

They are always going to tell a claimant they are not liable, insurance companies never want to pay. Just because they told you they are not liable does not make it so. The fact is that this is an expense incurred directly because of negligence of their insured so either they will pay you or you can sue the owner/driver and they will pay you as they are the ones who are liable for this expense.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX I'm now going to have to sue this guy. As I never thought I would ever be in this position. Thanks for your time.

You can also call your insurer and see if they will handle it if you have comprehensive, that is why you have insurance. But before you rush to sue, play some hardball with their insurance and keep negotiating telling them you are not going to settle and then send them a letter telling them that them refusing to pay for the work to do the estimate as their client requested is considered bad faith and if they keep it up you will sue them for the bad faith denial of your claim which would include penalties and attorney's fees (usually once you start pointing out it was their insured who was liable and use the specific term bad faith, that means that if you prove bad faith the insurance company can be on the hook for much more than the $926 and they know it so it usually makes them want to settle).

If that does not work, then see if your insurance can help, because most times they can pressure the other insurer.

The final recourse is small claims court, which is fairly easy and means you go to the local court, get the forms from the clerk fill them out and file them and then you get a court date to go to court. It is not much more work to it than that.
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