Left scene of an accident before police arrived

22 posts in this topic

Hi,

 

my partner lightly bumped an unoccupied parked car. He got out of the car and saw that the damage was microscopic. Angry guy - not the owner of the car - steps out of his Jaguar and proceeds to shout and indulge in some self-righteous jubileum about how this gar nicht geht. Notes down our license plate and apparently called the police. My partner, after deciding damage was invisible to the naked eye and unaware that angry guy called the police, left. 

Police knocked on our door later on and accused him of leaving the crime scene. He has left his contact with the car owner, talked to the car insurance (Teilkasko) and received a letter from the police asking for his report of what happened.

Please save me the telling off - believe me, I already took care of that. Questions:

- will our Haftpflichtversicherung (I can never write that word on the first try) take care of any damages if the owner decides to press charges?

- if so, is the "only" thing to expect a fine/suspension of license/prison from the police?

- should we get a laywer before we write/sign anything?

 

Many thanks in advance.

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21 minutes ago, Imanuxuf said:

- will our Haftpflichtversicherung (I can never write that word on the first try) take care of any damages if the owner decides to press charges?

Yes. That's what it is for.

 

Of course, the owner will claim damage repairs: this is not Italy, were all the cars have scratches.

 

22 minutes ago, Imanuxuf said:

- if so, is the "only" thing to expect a fine/suspension of license/prison from the police?

It will be a fine. No suspension of license.

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27 minutes ago, Imanuxuf said:

 

- will our Haftpflichtversicherung (I can never write that word on the first try) take care of any damages if the owner decides to press charges?

 

Leaving the accident scene is an ex officio crime, i.e. one which has to be prosecuted by the authorities whether reported (by that other owner) or not. That is criminal law.

 

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- if so, is the "only" thing to expect a fine/suspension of license/prison from the police?

 

Not necessarily. Haftpflichtversicherung will cover the damage/repair to the other car – but is entitled to make a recourse against your partner because your partner left the accident scene. That will be civil law then. Is your german good enough for this?

 

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- should we get a laywer before we write/sign anything?

 

 

Could be useful. 

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You'd be surprised how much it can cost to repair "invisible" damage: it may be glaring damage to the owner and the mechanic. 

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You should get a lawyer who can then access the police report with the witness statement and description of the accident and damages. This will show the Staatsanwalt that you are aware of the facts. 

It is on you to make discovery of the facts on your side. 

Leaving a note does not cut it here. You either have to wait for the owner and talk it over personally with him or call the police and make a report of the accident (no matter how trivial) within 24 hours.

I was falsely accused of unerlaubte Entfernung vom Unfallsort and had to still pay a fine of €500! I couldn't prove I hadn't done it and my lawyer said to pay it since there was a witness (who was scamming the system trying to get free repairs for his BMW) and I shouldn't risk it in court.

If you scratched a BMW or some other kind of expensive car you might have to cough up some real dough.

You won't get any jail time. 

Germans love their cars and tapping bumpers when you park is seen as sacrilege here. It's the culture.

In my case I had only the fine to pay with nothing going on my record. With lawyer's fees it cost me about €1200. I hope your partner gets off lighter than that. You could chance it without a lawyer it's up to you. 

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15 hours ago, Imanuxuf said:

Thanks for the quick anwser, @yourkeau

So just fill out the report for the police, no need to show it to a laywer before?

It's up to you, but I don't think a lawyer can do anything. If the total price is below 1000 euro, I would rather not use a lawyer.*

 

15 hours ago, someonesdaughter said:

Haftpflichtversicherung will cover the damage/repair to the other car – but is entitled to make a recourse against your partner because your partner left the accident scene. 

One can offer to pay out of own pocket in return to keeping the accident free discount, as it was not a "real" accident, most insurance companies will agree or even offer that.

 

*In case you ask how a scratch can be so expensive: damaged parking sensor, for example. It is not visible, but very expensive.

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I think the best course of action is always to contact the Police, they never seem too worried about people calling them, if you were in the UK you would probably get done for wasting their time! I once drove over a wing mirror on the autobahn by accident, I stopped to check damage to my car as it hit the underside of my car. Almost instantly the guy behind also stopped claiming debris from the wing mirror has written his car off, (may well have done the state he was in...) In the end all sorted very well through the insurance, other guy claimed all sorts for his Mercedes. In the end my insurer took care of everything, paid out nothing to the other guy and took care of the legal side. I did not claim anything either as the car is old anyway and I fixed the plastic panel under the engine myself. Another lesson - always take photos and if stranded use all the hi-vis and triangles stuff and avoid arguing with the irate guy just smile nicely say nothing  negative and wait for the police - never leave the scene without your Polizei signed report...

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Do you have an umbrella policy from you insurance? That is, Rechtschutz? I've found it to be relatively cheap and it saved me a bundle in legal feels in a similar situation. 

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I reckon legal insurance is essential in modern Germany - litigation everywhere and, if you´re a foreigner and don´t know the rules or your rights, even more essential.

shotten99: good tip! But just a point in my professional opinion - if, by umbrella insurance, you mean having all your insurances with your company, I would disagree re legal insurance. Just imagine you have a dispute with your insurance company and want to consult a lawyer...and it turns out your legal insurance is with the same provider as your household, liability, life insurance, car insurance..whatever...conflict of interest for them?

Best is to keep your legal insurance part from the rest...

 

Disclaimer: I´m an independent insurance broker.

 

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Hi everyone,

 

thanks for all your answers.

We ended up filling out the report and sending it in. Let's see. Will definitly look into the Rechtschutzversicherung, though - great tip.

Will post results, if anybody is interested.

 

Cheers!

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I've also suggested that people don't leave the scene of the crime, so to say, but in a polite manner and did take precautionary photos. We have been hit 14 times, by people who don't care and leave. It's just the way it is and people do get in a rage about these things, as it happens too often. You are following the correct paths, but beware of the insurance claim profit trick. The owner of the car might choose to have it checked in the most expensive garage in the area, in order to claim a large sum, such as a Mercedes showroom and garage. The owner could pocket the money and not repair the damage. Insist on receipts for the work and find an honest company that just touches up small damage, or else you could end up paying for new body parts, a respray and god knows what! Follow every step, the owner makes! Good luck :-)

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If you damage my car, I can decide whether I repair it or leave it as it is and just take the money (minus some %) - not you.

If you damage my Mercedes, I can go to Mercedes - independent of the size of the showroom- and let them repair it. I don't need to go to an indy with my 200000€ SLR.

I suggest you just don't damage the property of other people.

 

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43 minutes ago, HamburgChris said:

I've also suggested that people don't leave the scene of the crime, so to say, but in a polite manner and did take precautionary photos. We have been hit 14 times, by people who don't care and leave. It's just the way it is and people do get in a rage about these things, as it happens too often. You are following the correct paths, but beware of the insurance claim profit trick. The owner of the car might choose to have it checked in the most expensive garage in the area, in order to claim a large sum, such as a Mercedes showroom and garage. The owner could pocket the money and not repair the damage. Insist on receipts for the work and find an honest company that just touches up small damage, or else you could end up paying for new body parts, a respray and god knows what! Follow every step, the owner makes! Good luck :-)

 

It's not a trick, it's standard conduct in German. There's some damage, you pay for an expert report, you send it to the insurance (together with the bill for the expert report) of the guy who damaged your car/house/bike/whatever. Whether you repair it now or later, leave it as it is or just replace the whole thing is no one's decision but yours. Yours is unforceable terrible advice.

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I think what @HamburgChris meant is to look out for unrelated charges.

 

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29 minutes ago, AnswerToLife42 said:

I suggest you just don't damage the property of other people.

 

Well, that is really the answer to life!

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 It is very true- what seems minor damage to a car can hide some expensive repairs. With all the sensors, cameras,  computer programmes, it is not easy to see what has been damaged.

The decision where to take the car for an estimate is   for Insurance and the owner of damaged car to decide.

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22 hours ago, HamburgChris said:

I've also suggested that people don't leave the scene of the crime, so to say, but in a polite manner and did take precautionary photos...

beware of the insurance claim profit trick. The owner of the car might choose to have it checked in the most expensive garage in the area, in order to claim a large sum, such as a Mercedes showroom and garage. The owner could pocket the money and not repair the damage. Insist on receipts for the work and find an honest company that just touches up small damage, or else you could end up paying for new body parts, a respray and god knows what! Follow every step, the owner makes! Good luck :-)

 

I backed into a parked car (a roughly 10-year-old Audi) while backing out of a parking spot. It was a bump - IMO, there was no damage, but since there were a few people around and I had to get my kid to kindergarten, I got out, took loads of pictures, dropped me kid at kindy and then drove to our neighborhood police station and filed a report (because you never know if someone else reports it). Some days later I get a call from the owner of the car. He asked if we could just do this out of pocket, he'll get a cheap "gutachter" and I could just then give him the cash to get it fixed. When I said "sorry, I have a company car and all claims have to go through my insurance", he said he'd get back to me. That was a year ago. 

 

Second story - I had a kickboard accident, fell from it while going around the corner and plowed with my head straight into a parked (older A-class) Mercedes. I broke the side blinking light with my head, which probably then scratched the fender. An ambulance took me away and I got 5 stiches, BUT I had to go to the police station to file a report of damage to private property! Luckily, my Haftpflicht insurance guy fielded all calls because the garage wanted €1500 to repair the 3 inch light scratch and broken light cover and bulb. After 6 months of haggling, the owner of the car texted me and said he just replaced the bulb and light herself and said screw the scratch. The car was already 15 years old and she couldn't stand the quibbling between the insurance guy and the garage! She was polite, but quite annoyed that the garage wanted to suck whatever they could from the insurance on such an old car.

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I think, if the value of a car (befor the accident) was lower than the costs of the damage, the insurance would only reimburse the value of the car.

So, possible the lady would have to pay 1000€ out of her pocket.

That's the problem with older cars that are in a good condition, but are only worth 1000€. If somebody damages door and fender - 3000€ damage.

You only get 1000€. However, you will not be able to buy the same car again for 1000€.

 

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Imanuxuf: any update on this? I just had a similar thing happen to me. I damaged someone’s car, left a note with my details but I did drive away. The car owner went to the police and now the police say I should have notified them before driving away and tgat it was still technically hit and run. Anyway I’m wondering what kind of fine to expect from the police . I am paying for the damage to the car through insurance.

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