I just had my first fenderbender

Not my first accident, mind you. I totalled my mom’s car when I was 18, and nearly totalled mine a year later. But in the 20 years since, nothing. So I just want to make sure I’m handling this the right way.

Last week, I had a parking lot “you go – no I go – no you go” with another car that led to her backing into the side of my car. My car is unhurt (I have a Jeep, and she hit my fender), but she seems to have some superficial damage to her rear bumper.

She has my info, and will be getting an estimate. We both would like to avoid getting insurance involved. In her mind, it’s all my fault (she just sent me a text referring to herself as “the woman you hit”) and she wants me to pay. In my mind, 50/50 sounds fair.

My thinking is to

  1. get her estimate for what needs to be done (no, I don’t have a mechanic of my own)
  2. check that that estimate is fair for the work specified
  3. offer to pay half

If she wants more, I can tell her to report it to her insurance company. Florida is a no-fault state, so AFAIK both of our rates will go up. Does this seem sensible?

She hit the side of your car with her bumper? I’m pretty sure that is always her fault unless you were running a red light or otherwise somewhere you really shouldn’t have been.

Might be worthwhile to talk to a lawyer and see what your liability is in this situation. If the other driver plays hardball, it would be good to know whether she actually has any recourse against you.

I’d bet good money – without researching the laws for even a moment – that in all 50 states, D.C., and U.S. territories, the person going in reverse is almost invariably at fault. And the cases where the reversing driver is not at fault are not common ones.

I agree with the others. She’s playing games with you to get you to pay for an accident she is at fault in. She backed into you and is saying that you’re the person who hit her? I don’t know your relative ages, but might she be taking advantage?
You should say that you’re being nice in not asking her to pay for your damage.

I think this is why the standard advice is to never admit fault after an accident. Sometimes it is obnoxious, but often good people, feeling guilty about it happening, take altogether too much blame on themselves.

I am not quite sure why people are so scared of insurance companies. They have NEVER raised my rates for a minor accident like that and I once even got an additional discount just by talking to them. It sounds minor. Just call them and let them pay for it and deal with the other driver’s insurance company. That is what you have already paid them for. That is why it is called insurance and not a savings account.

Could you explain the accident in detail for us?

The way I’m picturing it is, you’re driving down a lane in a parking lot and she starts to back out of her spot a bit up ahead of you. Afraid she may not stop, you slow down. She notices that she was about to back into you and waves you past her. You then say “No, it’s okay, go ahead” and wave her back. You both repeat this a couple of times. Finally, you pull forward into the area she was going to back out into and she simultaneously backs into the side of your car.

I am not a cop or a lawyer or anything of the sort, but I don’t see how that could be anything but 100% her fault if that’s the case. You may feel responsibility because of the whole miscommunication thing that happened but legally she hit you if this is how it happened. You had the right of way, and she had the burden of making sure her path was completely clear before she backed out.

If I were you, I’d call around to a couple of lawyers and see if they’d give you an opinion. I certainly would just hand her money because she says it’s your fault. Given the theoretical circumstances I’d be have inclined to shove a foot up her posterior for even insinuating you were wholly responsible - she must think her poop smells like roses.

I was backing out of my own driveway. At the same moment, my MIL was pulling into the driveway. I was already in motion by the time she began to pull in. I got the ticket for “improper backing” (I don’t mind). The cop was given the details and the conclusion was automatic… “You were in reverse, so you get a ticket.”

At least her repair was paid for with no deductible. I caved the side of her car in. My truck bumper was unfazed.

You’ve been paying Florida insurance rates for 20 years? About time you got something out of it… And, remember, she will have to pay her deductible if it goes through insurance. By paying half, you are paying her deductible for her, and it sure sounds like her fault. Let your well-paid insurance agent handle this and do not waste another second of your life on it.

Thanks to all for the input.

That’s pretty much the way it happened, except that I didn’t slow down, I came to a full stop, and we didn’t do the back and forth a few times, it was just once. I stopped, gave her a chance and when she didn’t take it, I went ahead. But I kinda think I should have waited another beat … complicating it was that there was another car coming from the other way, and he was stopped too (I think he wanted her spot).

But unless I misunderstand Florida insurance law – which is entirely possible, and please tell me if it is – fault is irrelevant. AFAICT, both people’s insurance goes up whenever there’s an accident, so it just becomes a question of whether or not I’ll pay more out-of-pocket or in higher premiums.

I’m hesitant to call my insurance company, and ask how much they’d rise because I’m guessing that’ll amount to a confession. but I’m taking it that is the consensus advice here?

Oh – and if it makes a difference in any way, I’m planning on moving to Virginia in January.

Speaking as an assistant at a law firm, don’t bother calling a lawyer over this. If you called my firm, you’d never get past the receptionist answering the phones.

Personally, I’d give my insurance guy a call and just let him know what’s going on. A good agent will tell you whether or not your rates will go up, etc. My husband has had a several minor accidents (he’s a terrible driver) and our agent has always told us the best way to go about getting the car fixed for as little out of our pocket as possible.

And her referring to herself as “the woman you hit” when she clearly hit *you * would tick me right off. :dubious: I think each of you being responsible for your own repairs is more than fair-I don’t see why you should pay a dime for her repairs.

I agree with calling your insurance company. I live in NY and TWICE my car has been hit by careless drivers. My rates did not go up at all. Most likely if your car had no damage, your insurance company will find her at fault and her insurance company will end up paying anyway. Do not give this woman a dime. With your clean driving record, your rates should be fine. After my second incident. I called my insurance company without telling them my name just to get some answers. They were very helpful and I went ahead and filed a claim.

If she hit you while backing up, she is at fault. Do not pay for her repairs.