Sanding our assholes with 150 grit.

Hit & Run

Two weeks ago I was hit from behind by another car at a stop sign.  It wasn't a hard hit, but it scraped my paint and left their paint (my car is black, theirs is white).  The car honked, pulled up beside me & the driver & passenger yelled curses at me while I was calling 911, then they drove off. 

I gave the license plate number to the 911 dispatcher, and started to follow them but they sped off (60 mph+ in a 35) and I lost them.  I stayed on the line with the dispatcher and pulled into a parking lot to wait for the cop.

Cop showed up and saw the damage (paint scraped off the back bumper) and took the license plate number (VA plates, JML-2089).  He then gave me a form to fill out and drove away.

The form stated it was for when there were no leads for the police, and was just for the insurance company if they were to call.  I called the police department and explained that I had the license plate number of the white (93-97) Mazda 626 that hit me and gave it to the officer.  She said the officer didn't open a case, so she opened one for me. 

I left for Florida a couple days later for vacation, and just got back.  I don't think the police are going to do anything to the jerk that hit me, and I'm not sure what to do next. VA law says that hit & run with no injuries and damages over $1000 is a felony, and hit & run w/ no injuries and damages under $1000 is a class 5 misdemeanor, punishable up to 12 months in prison and/or $1000 in fines.

I want to prosecute this person to the fullest extent of the law, and at least get the few hundred I need to repaint my bumper ($500 deductible for my insurance).  Any advice? I will be talking to a lawyer, but anyone know if I can get the name/address of the owner of the car based on the license plate? 

Thanks.
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 11:12am
If watching the Rockford Files has taught me anything, chatting up the plain woman behind the counter at the DMV should do.
Permalink Unhelpful advice 
March 17th, 2006 11:16am
I believe you can take the plate number to the DMV and file a request for that information. There's some sort of filing fee. I would imagine this whole process could also vary by state. You can definitely do so in some...
Permalink Send private email I am Jack's trailer trash trackr 
March 17th, 2006 11:19am
LOL!!

Your comment is all the funnier, knowing what the DMV branches were like here in Hampton Roads, VA.

Thanks for that - I needed a laugh.
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 11:20am
VA DMV records can only be released to law enforcement officials, insurance companies, and businesses seeking to reposess a car.

http://dmv.state.va.us/webdoc/citizen/records/release.asp
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 11:22am
What did your insurance company say when you called them?  Depending on how good they are to their customers, they might track the person down for you and initiate the process to recoup your costs.
Permalink Send private email Jacob 
March 17th, 2006 11:24am
Does a private investigator qualify as someone who can get DMV records?  I'm wondering about these websites that supposedly will tell you all sorts of info about the owner if you give them the license plate number, and $50 of course.
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 11:24am
My insurance company (USAA) was stuck on "do you want to make a claim or not?"  If I make a claim, then I believe they will track down the person and try to get the money from them, but then I'll have an accident on my record and my insurance is tenuous at best.  I told them I'd hold off making a claim until I heard from the police department concerning the "investigation".
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 11:26am
++and business entities which are attempting to locate an individual in order to pursue a remedy against them

I would think a private detective or attorney would fall under such a business entity and you are certainly seeking a remedy against them.
Permalink Send private email I am Jack's OP-inion 
March 17th, 2006 11:27am
hmmm... good eye Jack.  I think I'll have to call up a lawyer soon.
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 11:30am
I'd like to ahve studied law, but then I'd be a lawyer.
Permalink Send private email I am Jack's limp legalese 
March 17th, 2006 11:33am
I have to ask -- you called 911 because someone scratched your paint?
Permalink Send private email Dennis Forbes 
March 17th, 2006 11:34am
Whenever I am in an accident I call the police.
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 11:39am
Usually there's non-emergency numbers. 911 is supposed to be for life or death, critical emergency type things. Getting a scratch on your bumper definitely doesn't apply.

Here most people just get the pertinent details and go to a Collision Reporting Center, if they even do that.
Permalink Send private email Dennis Forbes 
March 17th, 2006 11:43am
Having done work in several 911 centers, that is probably one of the more legitimate calls they regularly receive.

Some of the more mundane I've been privy to:

-My cat/dog has run away and/or been hit by a car.
-I am locked out of my domicile or vehicle.
-The neighbors' stereo is too loud.
Permalink Send private email I am Jack's emergency entrants 
March 17th, 2006 11:45am
Regardless of the fact that I always call the police when involved in an accident, there also some unusual circumstances with this particular accident. 

The driver followed me out of Taco Bell, and started honking at me while I waited for cars to pass.  I pulled out and when to the next stop sign, and before I even got up to the stop bar I was being honked at.  So I turned left and went to the next stop bar and started getting honked at before reaching the stop bar.  Cars were coming each time.  While I was stopped, the other car lurched forward after stopping and hit me.

While they were pulling up beside me and yelling and cursing, I truly did fear for my safety.  I did not believe this would be one of those "oh gosh, sorry about that, let's see what the damage is..." type of incidents.
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 11:50am
> VA law says that hit & run with no injuries and damages over $1000 is a felony, and hit & run w/ no injuries and damages under $1000 is a class 5 misdemeanor

So, unlike most people involved in an accident, you want to find an expensive repair service. Shouldn't be too hard :-)
Permalink Moron 
March 17th, 2006 11:53am
I helped found a body shop 4 years ago, and I'm like a silent partner.  I definitely think I can get a bill for any amount I want.

I'd love to see this person go to jail.  I hate this type of driver, that would purposefully hit someone and then drive away.
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 11:55am
Unless you have another witness, they have two people in their car who will undoubtedly "agree" on a version of events very different than yours (which is probably why the original officer didn't bother), such as that you had road rage and backed into them.
Permalink Send private email Dennis Forbes 
March 17th, 2006 11:56am
Leaving the scene of a crime without reporting it is a *huge* no-no, and I imagine it wouldn't be hard for a competent lawyer to get them convicted on leaving the scene of the accident.
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 11:59am
i said crime, meant accident.
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 11:59am
of course, i can also imagine a huge settlement in my favor.  if only i had a way of making my imaginations become reality...
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 12:00pm
In the UK they're now trialling a non-emergency police contact number, 101.  It might as well be called the 'call this number and we'll forget you rang department', it also reminds one of 1984 and Room 101.

The regular number is 999 for emergencies but there's also the EU wide number of 112, which I doubt if anyone in the UK knows, I knew it existed but had to look it up.
Permalink Send private email Simon Lucy 
March 17th, 2006 12:10pm
I think it's meant to go to the local Police Station - which means the response you get will depend on what they have going on.  Expect an incident number and a copper pitching up the following day.
Permalink Send private email a cynic writes... 
March 17th, 2006 12:23pm
Persecuting crimes is the DA's job. Contact them about getting a felony or misdemeanor conviction. The convicted party's name will be public record so you don't need to pay a private dick to find out the info.

Then having his name, sue him in civil court (you honestly don't need to shell out big bucks for attorney fees).

Don't mark up the repair costs. That's really pathetic. Not only because it's fraudulent. But because you'de be taking the law into your own hands (you're the one decisiding to give the guy a felony rather than 5 misdy). If you think you deserve a little extra for your time and tribulation then sue him for that too.

Dennis says it may come down to a he-said/she-said scenario. It won't. Back-end collisions are overwhelmingly assumed to be the rear driver's fault. I was in one last summer. Although everyone - including cops and the guy I hit - felt I was morally faultless (it was six car domino on the highway), there was never a question of my legal fault.

Making it into a hit and run soldifies the guy's guilt.
Permalink Brine Da Puma 
March 17th, 2006 12:26pm
http://media.putfile.com/Jay-Leno-911
Permalink BigJigger 
March 17th, 2006 12:39pm
Regarding your insurance, if the accident wasn't your fault, it shouldn't affect your premiums.  My son was rear-ended a few weeks ago (by an off-duty cop of all people), the police came right away, and the cop's insurance company is paying for EVERYTHING.

You should have called the cops right away and filed a report.  Do you have any corroborating witnesses?  That will help if the two perpetrators try to lie about the incident.

If these idiots did what they did to you, they'll probably do it to someone else, unless they have to pay a fine or get arrested.  Don't let them get away with it.
Permalink Send private email Dana 
March 17th, 2006 1:39pm
You were legally at fault for being the middle car in a six car pileup? WTF.  Did that cost you money?

Nathan, you have to nail these guys.
Permalink  
March 17th, 2006 1:53pm
Dana, it depends on whether or not your state is an "at-fault" state.  I was hit head on, by a drunk driver who had crossed over the center line and my premiums almost doubled.
Permalink Send private email Jacob 
March 17th, 2006 1:54pm
I wasn't planning on inflating the cost of the repair.  It's going to be $300 to repaint the rear bumper, probably $700+ if I have to replace the bumper.  I'm not sure if there's any damage underneath.  Dennis, it may be "just a scratch", but that's at least $300 damage.

Dana,  I was involved in an accident a number of years ago where a lady pulled out in front of me in wet conditions on a two lane road with a dump truck coming towards me and a ditch on the right.  She stopped in my lane, waiting for the dump truck to go by, and never once looked my direction.  I plowed into her, and it was deemed her fault & she was ticketed.  She had no insurance, I had uninsured motorist's insurance, so my company paid for the damages.  The next renewal my rates went up due to my claim (my only accident).

I have no problem believing that my insurance rates would increase because I filed a hit & run claim with my insurance company.
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 1:56pm
+Jacob (my first programming job was writing auto-insurance rating software)

++You were legally at fault for being the middle car in a six car pileup? WTF.  Did that cost you money?

As tremendously stupid as it is, the logic is that you should leave more space between yourself and the vehicle in front of you when stopping. You know, because when a semi jacknifes into your rear, that extra 3 feet is going to matter..... enough for you to pick up speed and hit the car in front of you even harder :)
Permalink Send private email I am Jack's car crash 
March 17th, 2006 1:59pm
Dennis,

If someone walks up to your car and smashes your windshield with a crow bar then yells at you, would you call 911?  The cost of damage is roughly the same as having to repaint a bumper.  Or would you just wait until you got home and look up the number for the local precinct and file a complaint that someone damaged your car?
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 2:22pm
One's an accident, the other is someone intentionally damaging property. Some are inclined to offer a little grace in an accident and not get the state involved.
Permalink BigJigger 
March 17th, 2006 2:26pm
nathan,

Your original story had you getting a scratch on your bumper and calling 911. Comparing that story with someone smashing your windshield is quite a bit of a stretch. Feel free to modify your story as you go, but don't continually debate my original question as you add further details.
Permalink Send private email Dennis Forbes 
March 17th, 2006 2:26pm
Others, I guess, would rather the government mediate in all affairs.
Permalink BigJigger 
March 17th, 2006 2:27pm
"Here most people just get the pertinent details and go to a Collision Reporting Center, if they even do that."
- Dennis Forbes

That's one reason Canada sucks so much.  Not that they have Collision centers, but the fact that you're in it.
Permalink Send private email Bonswalli 
March 17th, 2006 2:27pm
"scraped my paint" means the bumper has to be repainted.  That runs about $250-300.  I have replaced 2 windshields, one was $115, the other was $275.

In my original story, I indicated the person was rude and offensive, yelling at me, as though it was my fault for actually obeying the stop signs.  I felt the exact same as if someone had walked up with a crow bar and broken a window, yelled at me, and then ran off.

Even if I had originally said "scratched my paint" the cost to repaint is still the same.  The entire part (door, fender, bumper, whatever) has to be repainted.  We're not talking about someone scuffing my shoes or something.
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 2:37pm
Yeah, you indicated that the person was offensive -after- the incident, while you were in the process of calling 911. That's hardly a revelation that tempers flare after a minor accident.

I just replaced the windshield on my Odyssey. $950.
Permalink Send private email Dennis Forbes 
March 17th, 2006 2:39pm
Yeah but it sounded like the first thing you do in a fender bender is whip out the cell phone and call 911. I would have called 911 after the idiot took off and fled at dangerous speeds. But not before then. Even if he hit me and took off safely, I would have called the non emergency line, where you can still report crimes to dispachers.

Dennis is right. 911 is for _emergencies_. And that's all.
Permalink BigJigger 
March 17th, 2006 2:41pm
"That's one reason Canada sucks so much.  Not that they have Collision centers, but the fact that you're in it."

Huh? This makes no sense. Now maybe you mean "in on it", but you see the police realize that minor auto accidents happen as a reality of the modern world. They don't need to waste an armed enforcer of the peace's time to go out to a low value, no injury accident to listen to petty details about who did what, especially given that our insurance is no fault. Both parties sho wup at a center where they take a couple of pictures, take statements, and pass the details onto the insurance. Here in Ontario we've had the safest roads in North America for quite some time, so I'd say they're doing something right.
Permalink Send private email Dennis Forbes 
March 17th, 2006 2:42pm
Ok, I see what you're saying.  I didn't indicate originally that they had been following me honking, but the fact that they were yelling and cursing immediately after hitting me (which i said in my original post) should be a clue that it wasn't a normal little fender bender.

I certainly don't think I should be lumped into the same category as the lady that called 911 to get her burger fixed.
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 2:42pm
Ooh Dennis, you like the Odyssey? We bought a Chevy venture for family transport this last year and really like. But I'm always a bit jealous when I see an Odyssey...
Permalink BigJigger 
March 17th, 2006 2:43pm
I wasn't lumping you in. That topic was a divergent thread about humorous 911 calls. No offense was intended.
Permalink Send private email Dennis Forbes 
March 17th, 2006 2:43pm
We're thinking of upgrading it shortly (it's 3 years old now), maybe replacing it with a Sienna. The Sienna and the Odyssey are pretty much neck and neck. I've been extremely pleased with it, however, and it is one rock solid minivan. Sucks gas like a pig though.
Permalink Send private email Dennis Forbes 
March 17th, 2006 2:44pm
ok Dennis.  I apologize for being sensitive, but I thought you were saying I was equivalent to the burger lady. 

Yes, I agree it wasn't an *emergency*, but when your hands are shaking and someone deliberately hit you and is now yelling at you, my first reaction is "Call 911".  While calm, 2 weeks after the incident, I think I could agree it would be better to call a police dispatch, non-emergency number.  But if the same thing were to happen again, in the heat of the moment I'll probably do the same thing.

I didn't know if they were going to physically assault me -I already felt extremely threatened that they deliberately hit me.  That's probably why I called 911 immediately.
Permalink Send private email nathan 
March 17th, 2006 2:48pm
Hmm, okay. The Venture is actually a pretty well built machine, and the cost savings over the Japanese models pushed me over the edge (we got a particularly good deal).

I think we'll drive it till it's dead, and then who knows. The latest Korean model vehicles are supposed to be pretty fantastic, too.
Permalink BigJigger 
March 17th, 2006 2:49pm
The venture looks like a great vehicle. One of the reason we went for a Japanese vehicle (though in this case it was made 150km from where I live here in Ontario) was resale - we looked at the values of 2 and 3 year old domestics and "imports" and it was unbelievable the difference. While the original stick price was less, often the per year cost factoring in resale was dramatically higher.

Speaking of minor auto accidents (again as a divergent thread), another reason they made collision centers is because people would do a minor bump on a major street during rush hour, and then they'd get out of their cars, causing traffic mayhem while they imagine CSI coming to do forensics on their vehicles. Collision centers are a way of saying "just get off the road, get the details, and leave...unless someone was injured or there's significant damage". Mind you I still see the guys with their four ways on in the middle of a backed up intersection because their license plate cover got cracked.
Permalink Send private email Dennis Forbes 
March 17th, 2006 2:52pm
If someone walks up and smashes your windshield, your glass coverage should pay for it 100%.

Oh, you don't have glass coverage?  It's cheap and totally worth it.  My cars have had a total of five windshield replacements in the past few years (I'm apparently cursed when it comes to glass).

Another great thing to spend a bit of money on is 100 mile towing from AAA.  Otherwise they only tow you up to five miles from the scene of a breakdown.
Permalink Send private email Dana 
March 17th, 2006 3:52pm
Six car pile up: first car came to dead stop (on the highway), next three cars piled up one after the other. The car in front of me managed to stop before hitting the fourth car. I was the last car and slid under the fifth car's bumper (under because its cabose was lifted up in the air as it was screaching to a stop).

The cops treated it as two seperate incidents: the first four cars. And the last two cars. In this incident - one car rear-ends another - the rear car is at fault. The damage to the other car was extremely minor. Some scratches to the bumper. It was a rental and I don't think it was even reported. My car was almost totalled (it's an old car) with $2000 of repairs. In fact there may have been more damage as on Wed the mechanic said my cradle is bent and the CV injector is damaged too. That'll be another $1500. Ugh.

My insurance rates/points never went up.
Permalink Brine Da Puma 
March 17th, 2006 4:28pm
I was reminded of the following blog entry that I recently read.

http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/2006/03/15.html#a1466

I've not read the whole thread. So am not sure if it will make sense or add value here...
Permalink Send private email Senthilnathan N.S. 
March 18th, 2006 1:52am

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