Auto accident 18 months ago
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Auto accident 18 months ago
I have a friend who was involved in a
car accident that happened 18 months
ago. He doesn’t remember hitting
another vehicle just remembers his car
spinning and then came to a stop in
front of a door to a private property.
He left the scene because his car
wouldn’t start. When he came back his
car was gone it was picked up and towed
to the police impound.He went with a
lawyer to the police station the next
day and told them everything that
happened they said there was no reports
of any car accidents but his car was in
the impound. He gave them all his
personal information but no one ever
called him. The lawyer that was helping
him said he found no reports either.
The car was never picked up from the
impound because he has being working
out of the state only returns on
weekends about once a month. Well now
18 months after he received a call from
someone saying they were from state
farm and said he owed 18,500 due to the
accident he caused. He called back the
number of the person from state farm
and it actually belongs to some guy
that works for the national service
bureau which is a collection agency in
the state of Washington. He doesn’t
know what he should do now?
Asked on July 22, 2016 under Accident Law, Georgia
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 5 years ago | Contributor
If he caused damage to other property or injury to other persons by driving negligently or carelessly in any way (e.g. DUI, which may be the case, if he can't even exactly recall what happened; or speeding, texting while driving, ignoring stop lights or signs, etc.), then he has to to pay the cost of the injuries he caused or damage he did--even if there were no police reports. He would not have to pay if he was not at fault; or if at fault, and the real damage or costs were only, say, $5,000, that's all he has to pay. He ideally should retain an attorney; the attorney will know how to deal with this, and for $18,500, this is a large-enough claim to more than justify a lawyer. The attorney can determine if it is legitimate and, if it's not, fight it; or if it is, negotiate a settlement that your friend can live with.
If he wants to do this himself--a bad idea, but his right--he should write to the agency and dispute the debt and ask for documentation validating it. Once he gets that documentation, he can decide what to do. If he really thinks that he was not at fault, did not cause the damage, or that the damage is overstated, he can try to fight it in court: the other side would have to prove his fault, that he caused the damage, and the extent/cost of the damage to win. Or he could, if the thinks that he may be responsible, try to negotiate a settlemement in which he either pays less and/or pays over time.
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