Elderly Woman Scratched My Car

Updated on October 09, 2013
C.C. asks from Manhattan Beach, CA
41 answers

I found a note on my car in a very nice residential neighborhood. The author scratched my bumper when parking. The scratching was over an area about 12" by 3" and the headlight plastic covering was cracked all the way across. There was also a two inch scratch on the metal next to the bumper.

I called the woman. She said she's 80 and didn't want to notify her insurance company. I said I would find out how much a new bumper would cost. The woman was surprised. She thought I could just have it painted. She said paying for a new bumper would "do her in" financially. I didn't even tell her about the cracked headlight cover yet.

I felt bad for her and said I wouldn't insist on calling her insurance company. I'm planning to give her a repair estimate from a very reputable, very reasonably priced local mechanic I've used before, and ask her to pay half.

If she says she can't afford it, I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to cause trouble for an elderly woman. But I'm in my early 60's, divorced, unemployed and trying to be careful with my money.

I can pay to have my bumper fixed, but I'm living off of retirement savings that are not even close to enough for retirement. So when I can get a job, I expect to be working through my 70's. This could easily cost from $300 to $600.

I have a reliable 17 year old car I have tried to keep looking presentable. It has a few dimples and parking lot nicks, but overall it looks good. I want the bumper fixed to try and keep the car looking decent.

I appreciate that she left a note and don't want to penalize her for her honesty. The fact that she lives in a nice area doesn't mean she has a lot of money. If she says she cannot pay half of the cost to repair it properly, what would you do?

Thank you very much for any light you can shed on this situation.

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So What Happened?

The lady who scratched my bumper, cracked my headlight and dented my front panel agreed to pay for the damage. HOWEVER, she was so unpleasant to talk to, I should have just called my insurance company.

I was in a big hurry to get this whole thing behind me and also exhausted. So I went to a very close shop that looked a little unprofessional, but got some good references on yelp. I got an estimate from them. (This is where they noticed the dent in the side panel that lined up with the other damage she'd done.)

I called the lady back that same morning. I said "This is X, I don't know if you remember who I am." She said "Unfortunately, I do." At that point, I said calmly, "I could say the same thing about you." I guess she realized what she said wasn't very nice, so she sort of backed down. During the conversation she said she was 86. I said "I thought you told me yesterday you were 80." No response.

She complained about the estimate, so I asked politely if she would prefer that I turn it over to the insurance company. She said "No, I told you I can't do that." I said I was hoping to take care of this very soon. She agreed to send me a check, and she did. She didn't ask, but I said I would I send her the estimate. I did.

That same afternoon, I started thinking I wasn't comfortable with this super close repair place for several reasons. I decided to go to a few more repair places, which I knew I should have done in the first place. But for whatever reason, I was exhausted the day after the incident after returning from a morning doctors appointment and it was all I could do to get to the one auto shop.

I called the lady and told her I was going to get a few more estimates. She said she was afraid they might be higher. I told her I didn't know, they might be, but I wasn't comfortable that the first guy would do a professional job. I said I'd let her know. She said okay.

Today, I went to two auto body shops who do all their own work (which the first shop didn't do). One was recommended right after the incident (by a great mechanic who doesn't do body work) with what sounded like less than enthusiasm--which is why I went to the first "very close" shop to begin with. I called the really good mechanic back after deciding to get more estimates and his wife answered and said they took their own cars to the body shop her husband told me about. I said her husband wasn't very enthusiastic about the body shop he mentioned. She laughed and said she thought they did good work. The second place was where my insurance company sent me YEARS ago to get something fixed.

Both estimates were really close in dollar amount, though one said he would paint the whole bumper because it had been painted before and might not look good in a few years if he repainted over it and the other one said he only needed to paint the scratched spot. Go figure.

So I just called the lady back to tell her the new estimate. She sort of whined and moaned about the significantly greater cost. She said "Can't you go to the first place?" I said I had no confidence in their work. Then she said "Take pity on me."

It was then I was especially happy I had asked all of you at mamapedia to give me your opinions, because I didn't feel guilty. I said if you talked to people who know me, you'd know I'm a very nice person. But you wrecked my car ---at which point she said "I didn't wreck your car"--and I said "You know what I mean. You damaged my car and I'm not happy about spending time looking for estimates and having to be without my car for three days while it gets fixed."

She went on about it again and I said "Some people (translation: on mamapedia) told me you might not want me to report this to your insurance company because you may have damaged several other cars. They said you might not be a safe driver and may injure someone if I don't report this to your insurance company."

At this point, she became angry and "huffy" and said abruptly, "I'll send you a check. What amount should I write the check for." I told her and was mid sentence with another comment about sending the estimate when she hung up on me.

I am sorry for her. But I know people her age and none of them would have talked to the person whose car they hit the way she talked to me. If I knew for sure she was a dangerous driver, I would have called my insurance company. But I didn't want to make assumptions.

My friend in another state who is 86 said she has a great driving record, but at her age, if she got in an accident, she'd either have to take a driving test or might lose her license. So I gave the lady who hit me the benefit of the doubt. But she sure didn't make it easy. Thank you for all of the well thought out responses and advice that most of you gave me. I really appreciate it!

Featured Answers

T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Wow, she's got some nerve. Driving is a privilege, not a right. If she can't afford to drive safely and responsibly then she shouldn't be behind the wheel. Also, how do you even know who she REALLY is? She could totally be scamming you.

10 moms found this helpful

R.X.

answers from Houston on

I would claim hit and run and that I gave no idea who did it. I would then charge the lady the deductible.

2 moms found this helpful

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

you are a very nice person.
so is she. i'm SO glad she did the right thing and left you a note.
the proper response to her honesty is probably to give her an estimate for the FULL amount to fix your car and give her the opportunity to pay for it. in full.
her honesty, while commendable, does not mean she's not responsible. and it may well be that if this costs her her driver's license, that it's time. my FIL just somehow got his license renewed, despite being partially blind and with terrifying slow reflexes. he recently drove home through a park- along its newly constructed walking path.
if she cannot pay the repair costs, her insurance company will. if she cannot afford her premiums, she can no longer take the risk of driving.
you are not penalizing her by having the car she damaged fixed.
khairete
S.

16 moms found this helpful

C.V.

answers from Columbia on

I'd call my insurance company and ask for guidance on how to get it filed with HER insurance company, and let them take care of it.

Elderly or not, she is responsible for the damage.

15 moms found this helpful
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P.G.

answers from Dallas on

There's also the issue that she may not be safe for driving anymore...

She needs to pay for the damage. If it were an 18 year old kid, would you find some way to have them pay it off?

If she can't pay for it without insurance, you need to report it, AND if she has a history of this kind of thing already, then it may be a good thing.

She's not being "penalized" for being honest, she's being held accountable for hitting your car.

14 moms found this helpful
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L.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Take all of the emotions out of this situation. She hit your car. It is going to be an expensive fix. Just call YOUR car insurance company. They will contact the driver and her insurance company. Since she hit your car, you probably won't have to pay for the deductible.

A few months ago, some woman rear-ended me. She offered to pay for it instead of going through insurance. I agreed to it, because she was young and I felt bad for her. When I got an estimate, she balked. And then she was "unavailable". So I called my insurance company -- what I should have done from the start. These things happen. This is why you pay for car insurance. Call them up, and let them handle it. It is their profession. Good luck!

ETA: Since it wasn't your fault, your insurance rates should not go up, even if you go through your own insurance. And you should not have to pay the deductible either. At least that was my experience with my accident earlier this year.

And do not claim "hit and run". That is insurance fraud. There is no reason to do that when it was not your fault and you have a note admitting fault from the woman who hit your car.

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D..

answers from Miami on

C., how do you know that the woman would REALLY be done in by paying for it? It could be that this is an exaggeration.

I have to tell you that I would call the insurance company without any hesitation. My own mom is this age and she would never do what this woman has done, try to beg off paying.

Another thing I am thinking about is that perhaps she is getting to the point that she shouldn't be driving anymore. If she is becoming dangerous on the road, then next time she hits someone, it could be a lot worse.

12 moms found this helpful

D.B.

answers from Boston on

I agree you need to get out of this situation and the emotions.

This lady did the right thing by telling you, but the wrong thing by telling you not to call her insurance company. You have no idea whether she has done this 50 times in the past 3 years or whether this is a first-time occurrence. She's afraid of losing her license, as well as the financial hit.

You MUST notify your insurance company and let them handle it. They will contact her insurance company and go from there. Otherwise you will get emotionally involved, and be out the cost of a bumper repair.

Right now, neither of you knows what it will cost. So turn it over to insurance.

I'm sorry but it may be time for an objective source to decide whether this woman can keep driving or whether she needs to be road-tested again. An accident is an accident, but it cannot turn into a contest of who is the most financially secure.

I have an elderly mother who had to give up driving, and I've been hit by people and asked not to do anything. I understand the dilemma. Just turn it over to the professionals and be done with it.

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C.C.

answers from New York on

You know what they say - "age ain't nothing but a number".

80 might be a "big number", but a bigger number is the amount on the bill to fix your car.

So this woman messed up your car. It doesn't matter that she's in her 80's, you're in your 60's, etc. She needs to be responsible and cover the cost of what she did.

Call insurance.

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J.G.

answers from Chicago on

You really should get her to file for the insurance. It may be that she shouldn't be driving anymore.

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A.R.

answers from Dallas on

I see a couple people advising you to claim hit and run and have her pay the deductible. First - that's insurance fraud. Second - your rates might go up if you do that. I agree with getting the estimate then telling her the amount. If she can't pay it you'll file it with her insurance company.

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S.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

She should be paying for all of it, not just half.

9 moms found this helpful

K.M.

answers from Chicago on

Sorry, but you contact the insurance company. She may not want them contacted because she knows they will make her go thru the efforts of getting her license again, she might need to have it taken away.

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S.F.

answers from Fargo on

This is the very reason that people have insurance! You do need to go through the proper channels for this, and report honestly, despite what a couple of responses suggested.

I know you appreciate her honesty, but she is wanting you to bear the responsibility for her driving mishap. You are not being unkind to put this through your insurance company.

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C.S.

answers from Las Vegas on

Turn it in to your insurance company and not worry about it any further. You need your car fixed. I would feel bad also, but if that is your means of transportation, then you need to keep it safe and on the road.

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S.R.

answers from Kansas City on

With all due respect, despite her age, she is still responsible! She hit your car. That is not your fault. It was nice she left a note but she is still responsible for causing damage to your car. I mean if you are going to continue driving at 80 years old then you have to assume responsibility if something happens. You take the good with the bad. You cannot make someone feel bad just b/c you accidentally (yes it was an accident) hit their car and you are 80 years old. If it were me, I would do the right thing and report it the correct way. Good luck!

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L.R.

answers from Washington DC on

Have you just asked her why she does not want to notify her insurance company? I would. She likely is scared that her premiums will go up, and that is indeed possible, but it isn't like she committed a serious moving violation; any premium increase might not be as much as she fears. I would ask her the reason she doesn't want to notify them, but then tell her that you will contact your own insurance company and your insurer will deal directly with hers.

If she is scared to contact her insurer because she has other incidents on her record -- if she has had other incidents of striking cars -- frankly, you may be doing everyone a favor if she has to stop driving after this. But you have no way to know if that is what's going on.

Someone said not to fix it at all on such an old car, but you do need to fix it for safety reasons. What you see is only scratches and a cracked headlight cover, but you need a good adjuster to inspect it, in case there is damage you cannot see! My car was struck while parked recently (the person did not leave any note but saw she'd hit it, and raced off -- witnesses left a note, bless them, but police could not trace the driver). There were just a few scratches to the bumper -- but I'm glad I had it checked: The adjuster for my insurance company found that there was underlying damage to the "foam" that absorbs shocks and lies behind the bumper -- that foam had to be replaced to ensure safety.

It's really nice that you want to help this lady out by having her pay half, not going via insurance, etc. But for safety (your own and possibly others' safety, if she happens to have any history of striking vehicles), you need to get this checked, and this is exactly what insurance is there to do -- to cover this kind of thing.

Frankly, you could claim it on insurance as an "unidentified motorist" claim, meaning you do not know who struck it. That was my situation once the police tried but could not trace the person who hit my parked car. Your insurance just basically eats the cost, since they can't contact the other driver's insurance agency. But I simply cannot advocate doing this since you do know who struck you! I think this is a time to let insurers do their thing while being as kind as possible about letting the lady know. Truly, it may cost her much MORE to pay half of a mechanic's bill than to let her insurance company pay for the damage.

9 moms found this helpful

G.F.

answers from Philadelphia on

Perhaps she shouldn't be driving. My dad is 83 and we have been on his wife to take over driving because she is 20 years younger. He is a dangerous driver. My dad has the money to pay his accidents but he still claims them. If she is saying she doesn't want it to go to her insurance it may be because she is about to lose it for accidents, that may not be a bad thing.

8 moms found this helpful

C.F.

answers from Portland on

I don't have money to pay for damage other people did, elderly or not.
I would file with my insurance before it is too late,
personally.

ETA
Years ago, a older woman slid into the rear of my car while trying to stop at a stop light in the rain.
It was a total accident, I could tell she was trying to stop long before she got to me, but she hydro-planed (Spelling?)
Anyway, I could not SEE any dmage, and I knew she didn't mean to,
so I let her go with out getting her info...
Well, the next time I went grocery shopping, I couldn't open my trunk...

That was my lesson, never letting anyone go with out getting their info ever again.

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H.L.

answers from Houston on

Her age shouldn't matter. The damage is done. If she can't pay for it outright, then that is what insurance is for. Seriously, what else is she going to do with it? YOU would not be doing her in. Her driving would be.

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B.S.

answers from Odessa on

Call your insurance company and let them deal with it. Your car will be fixed correctly fast. It is not your job to pay any of it.
Also, she may not even have a license and may not be allowed to drive. It could be a child she hits next.

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C.P.

answers from San Francisco on

I would file with my insurance too. The out of pocket cost would be no more than the deductible she carries. Either way... It's not your fault. It's sweet that you're concerned for a stranger but don't let it, 'do you in.' Unless you decide not to get your car fixed... Don't spend money when its tight on a cost that you didn't need or anticipate! Do you have the money to cover someone else hitting your car? No, doesn't matter if she's a sweet old lady. She should understand... She does, that's why she left a note.

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D.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

You should not be paying for any of this. As others have said, the issue may be that this woman has been in other similar accidents and is concerned about having her license revoked.

Contact your insurance company. And DON'T defraud them by claiming 'hit and run.' When did we abandon the idea that people need to be honest and take responsibility for their actions, doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do?

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J.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

I would tell her the full price to fix your car and give her the opportunity to pay you immediately. If she can not afford it, you will have to file a claim through your insurance companies.

7 moms found this helpful

M.D.

answers from Washington DC on

Sorry, but she wrecked your car (yes minor, but still) and should pay for it. You could call your insurance and claim a hit and run, but you'd pay your deductible for it. I would call my insurance and let them hash it out with hers. It's the cleanest way to do it. I bet she doesn't want insurance notified because she has other things on there....maybe she shouldn't be driving.

For what it's worth, someone crashed into the car behind my husband and they tapped my husband's car. The only damage to the car was the two little bolts that screw in the license plate were indented on the bumper. That alone was $450 to fix. We let the other person's insurance fix it, it's only a year old car that we bought brand new, so we werent' riding around with any damage to it.

Call the insurance.

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G.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

She is nothing to you and you should report it to your insurance agency and let them handle it. It's hard to know how this will play out but she hit your car and is wanting to get away with it. Maybe she shouldn't be driving.

I agree she could have the money but doesn't want to pay.

I agree she is likely on a tight leash because she's started having accidents like this and might be at risk of losing her license. She might need to and she might not. My FIL just got back from a road trip, he went all the way to Florida, North Carolina, and up to Virginia then back to OKC. He was born in the late 1920's. He's never had an accident of any sort and is a good driver. If he had done this he would expect you to file on your insurance and them go to the other person's insurance company.

She may not have a lot of money, some people live in the same house their whole adult lives and they get paid off. Now that she's older she may not have any income except her husband's SS. Still, she has to have insurance to drive.

Call your insurance adjuster and get it taken care of.

She might have even been drunk or high. You don't really know but her company does need to know about this accident.

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A.M.

answers from Hartford on

Why would someone suggest to lie about the incident????

5 moms found this helpful

B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

Put the emotion aside and be logical about this.
Someone's got to pay for it.
It's either going to be you or her.
Bummer that she's elderly but She Wrecked Your Car.
It's her responsibility to pay for it.
It could very well be that this is not the first time (and may not be her last time).
It could also be true that she should not be driving anymore - but that's irrelevant as far as you are concerned unless she hits you again.
At any rate don't feel guilty about calling her insurance company.
Don't call your insurance company else they might raise your premiums.
She caused this.
As a driver she has a responsibility to deal with the consequences.

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D.F.

answers from St. Louis on

You honestly don't know what her financial situation is. She could be loaded. My neighbors live in a very small house over 60 years old. And they're millionaires. She wrecked your car, call you ins that's what you pay for as well as what she pays for. Let the ins co. deal with it.

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J.K.

answers from Wausau on

The only way I'd consent to not involve insurance is if the person paid the full cost of repair. Otherwise, do it by the book. You can be polite and say it isn't a cost you can take on either, so it has to be done this way. If she won't give you her insurance info submit it to your insurance with her name and number. They can use that to find her insurer and get reimbursed.

I wonder if perhaps she doesn't have insurance or maybe she isn't supposed to be driving at all.

4 moms found this helpful

C.O.

answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia!!

What would I do? Sorry - but the best thing to do is file a claim with your insurance company. She SHOULD be insured - that's the point of insurance...to take care of stuff like this...

She probably does NOT want to contact her insurance company because this is NOT the first time she's done this.

I hope you have a low deductible. However, since it's NOT your fault, you should NOT have a deductible at all.

It's great that you want to protect the W. and help her out. However, you need to report it to insurance and get your car fixed properly.

Good luck!

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

You should just turn it over to your insurance company, get it fixed and let her deal with the insurance company. If your light cover has to be replaced, I bet the cost of the repair will be much more than you have stated. It's amazing how much little things like this can cost! I doubt she can even afford 1/2 of the repair bill. That's what insurance is for!

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A.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Contact your insurance company! This happened to me not too long ago. I was rearended by an elderly man. We pulled over to exchange info and he begged me not to contact my insurance (same issue: small scratch, little dent, didn't want his rates to go up...). I called my insurance agent (who happens to be my SIL) and found out that the man was driving on a suspended licence and that I was the 8th person he had hit in 6 months.
You might feel bad, but you could be saving someone's life. What if the next thing that she clips is a person?

Good luck.

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V.P.

answers from Columbus on

She probably doesn't want to file with insurance because her deductible will be more than the cost (if it's a $500 deductible and the cost is $400, it'll be out of pocket for her), and it will likely cause her insurance to go up. She was trying to do the right thing, but it's a bad situation all around. Personally, I'd end up paying for it, but I don't know the right answer for you.

ETA: By the way, if you file with your insurance, your company will likely go after her company for reimbursement.

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R.M.

answers from San Francisco on

That's what insurance is for. It was nice of her to leave a note, but it's relatively minor damage and if she hasn't had a lot of accidents her insurance probably won't be raised much, if at all, to fix a bumper.

Have your insurance company contact her insurance company, and let them pay for it. There's no need for either of you to pay out of pocket. Like I said, her insurance cost isn't likely to increase much, but if it does, because she's had multiple accidents, then maybe it's time for her to get off the road.

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K.C.

answers from Dallas on

back in 09 i had an elderly man back into my car. he gave me his info too and told me not to call his ins. my hood, light, etc smashed. called my ins to have them deal with it. turns out alot more under the hood wrong so it was totaled. i got angry calls but im glad i did...

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A.P.

answers from Washington DC on

Just calling like I see it....

I think you're being way to nitpicky about a 17 year old car. Don't get it fixed. Be thankful it wasn't damaged out of commission and get on with your life.

Ahhhhh...... Welcome to Mamapedia!

And if you believe that she can't pay you, you're getting scammed.

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V.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

I would go ahead and give her the estimate, and if it's more than she can handle let her know you are contacting your insurance company. That's what we have insurance for. If this in fact is one of many "incidents" she is having...and that is why she doesn't want to notify her insurance, perhaps it's time TO notify the insurance company before someone get's killed. I am saying this as a "mature" woman over the ago of 65...lol. You deserve to have your car fixed.

Updated

I would go ahead and give her the estimate, and if it's more than she can handle let her know you are contacting your insurance company. That's what we have insurance for. If this in fact is one of many "incidents" she is having...and that is why she doesn't want to notify her insurance, perhaps it's time TO notify the insurance company before someone get's killed. I am saying this as a "mature" woman over the ago of 65...lol. You deserve to have your car fixed.

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B.P.

answers from Cleveland on

You need to call your insurance and file a claim 100% you'll pay your deductable and let them know you have the women's info she didn't scratch your car she wrecked it

1 mom found this helpful

S.G.

answers from Grand Forks on

What Rhonda said. Claim hit and run and just have her pay your deductible.

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A.M.

answers from Washington DC on

My neighbor decided to stop driving at 80 when she had her third fender bender in less than a year reported to her insurance company.

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