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Thread: Unauthorized, unlicensed daughter wrecked my car

  1. #1
    boomer4d is offline Junior Member
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    Unauthorized, unlicensed daughter wrecked my car

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? This occured in the state of Alabama

    To make a very long story short my 14 year old daughter took my car while I was out of town on business and was involved in an accident where my car was likely totaled and signifcant damage was done to the other vehicle. After the collision she and the 3 "friends" she had with her left the vehicle and ran only to be apprehended a short ways away. Witnesses to the accident put my daughter behind the wheel. She was charged with two counts of felony leaving the scene of an automobile accident involving injury and one count of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle (pressed by us).

    The adjustor at my insurance company is now telling me that in order to avoid being sued and possibly being hit with a large punitive damage award (likely 6 figures for each of the people in the car my daughter hit) I need to withdraw the charge of unauthorized use and accept financial responsibility for the accident.

    Something here sounds very fishy. I have never heard of an insurance company telling someone to withdraw these kinds of charges. In fact one of the investigators at the scene said that we needed to file the complaint so that we were covered.

    Possible my insurance company is trying to avoid having to pay out a large settlement against my policy?

    Thanks!
  2. #2
    sandyclaus is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by boomer4d View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? This occured in the state of Alabama

    To make a very long story short my 14 year old daughter took my car while I was out of town on business and was involved in an accident where my car was likely totaled and signifcant damage was done to the other vehicle. After the collision she and the 3 "friends" she had with her left the vehicle and ran only to be apprehended a short ways away. Witnesses to the accident put my daughter behind the wheel. She was charged with two counts of felony leaving the scene of an automobile accident involving injury and one count of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle (pressed by us).

    The adjustor at my insurance company is now telling me that in order to avoid being sued and possibly being hit with a large punitive damage award (likely 6 figures for each of the people in the car my daughter hit) I need to withdraw the charge of unauthorized use and accept financial responsibility for the accident.

    Something here sounds very fishy. I have never heard of an insurance company telling someone to withdraw these kinds of charges. In fact one of the investigators at the scene said that we needed to file the complaint so that we were covered.

    Possible my insurance company is trying to avoid having to pay out a large settlement against my policy?

    Thanks!
    If the vehicle was being operated by an unlicensed and unauthorized user, they can deny coverage under your policy. You have a decision to make - either withdraw the charges (which basically admits that you ALLOWED your daughter to operate your vehicle) or keep them in place and accept the consequences of your unsupervised daughter's actions.

    How is it that you were irresponsible enough to leave the keys around and your 14-year-old daughter unsupervised long enough to allow this to happen?
  3. #3
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    If there was unauthorized use, then your insurance won't cover the accident. That will make your daughter solely responsible for the damage she caused. Since she's a minor, where do you think they would ultimately look to recover from? Whose fault is it that the keys were left where she could get them and she was not being properly supervised?

    Your insurance company is actually looking out for you. If you continue to maintain that she stole the car, they don't have to pay, but you get screwed. If a total stranger stole your car, then you would not be responsible for any damage caused by the thief, but this is your child, and there are several theories that you could be held liable under. Bottom line, it is definitely better for you here if your insurance covers the accident.
    sandyclaus likes this.
  4. #4
    boomer4d is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandyclaus View Post
    If the vehicle was being operated by an unlicensed and unauthorized user, they can deny coverage under your policy. You have a decision to make - either withdraw the charges (which basically admits that you ALLOWED your daughter to operate your vehicle) or keep them in place and accept the consequences of your unsupervised daughter's actions.

    How is it that you were irresponsible enough to leave the keys around and your 14-year-old daughter unsupervised long enough to allow this to happen?
    She stole a key to my safe and took my spare key. I had MY keys with me. I dont really think that makes me irresponsible and i certainly don't appreciate your attitude. Until you've been through what I have with my daughter I would ask that you refrain from judging me.

    Originally the insurance company told the victims of the collision that they would have to file under their uninsured motorist policy and they flipped out (high deductible policy) which I understand and sympathize with. That is when they approached me regarding withdrawing the charges. I am open to that but the more i think about this the more something smells in Dallas. I trust them about insurance companies about as far as I can throw one.

    I am going to talk to an attorney obviously but I am freaking out a little here and waiting until tomorrow is just going to get my blood pressure up even higher than it is now.
  5. #5
    boomer4d is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecmst12 View Post
    If there was unauthorized use, then your insurance won't cover the accident. That will make your daughter solely responsible for the damage she caused. Since she's a minor, where do you think they would ultimately look to recover from? Whose fault is it that the keys were left where she could get them and she was not being properly supervised?

    Your insurance company is actually looking out for you. If you continue to maintain that she stole the car, they don't have to pay, but you get screwed. If a total stranger stole your car, then you would not be responsible for any damage caused by the thief, but this is your child, and there are several theories that you could be held liable under. Bottom line, it is definitely better for you here if your insurance covers the accident.
    Thank you, my initial reaction was that this was the case but I just dont know. I have never been through this kind of thing before and have spent more time around the police and juvenile authorities than I care to think about over the last 8 months.
  6. #6
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    By "withdrawing" the charges, wouldn't the OP be treading in to the criminal realm of filing a false police report?
  7. #7
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    Even if they file under their UM, their insurance is going to pursue recovery from the at fault party and those responsible for her. That doesn't get you out of anything.
  8. #8
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    I doubt it, it wasn't a false report. He might just say that he no longer wishes to pursue the charge and that the felony hit and run should be punishment enough for the kid to have to deal with.
  9. #9
    boomer4d is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecmst12 View Post
    Even if they file under their UM, their insurance is going to pursue recovery from the at fault party and those responsible for her. That doesn't get you out of anything.
    yeah, I figured that and DON'T want, and am not trying, to dodge any responsibility on our part. My biggest issue is that we are being told we have to drop the unauthorized use charges so we can accept financial responsibility. In my mind that lets my daughter off the hook and certainly doesn't show her that there are consequences for her actions. I want to accept financial responsibility but also want to keep the charges against her but the insurance company is saying I cant do that which I really dont understand.

    Does that make sense?
  10. #10
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    Like I said, she still has the hit and run to deal with. And the law is not the only entity capable of punishing your child. You can certainly require her to do community service and be on house arrest in her room every minute she's not in school until she's 18. This does NOT have to mean "letting her off the hook".
  11. #11
    boomer4d is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecmst12 View Post
    Like I said, she still has the hit and run to deal with. And the law is not the only entity capable of punishing your child. You can certainly require her to do community service and be on house arrest in her room every minute she's not in school until she's 18. This does NOT have to mean "letting her off the hook".
    Yeah, juvenile authorities took care of most of that when she appeared in court the day after the accident. 28 days in the detention center, electronic monitoring for the next 2 years, 80 hours of community service, cannot associate with a certain group of friends, etc... Unfortunately they set the disposition on all 3 charges at the same time, if we file to withdraw we have to go through it all again and there is a chance (I hope remote) that she gets out of some of that or worse that they could deny the request to withdraw the charges. Nothing I have done over the last 6 months has fazed her, somebody or something needs to get her attention before she gets hurt or worse hurts somebody else. My wife and I were hoping this might be the catalyst to get her back on track.

    Thanks for your thoughts, it's much appreciated.
  12. #12
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    I would talk to the DA about the situation and see if this can be worked out.
  13. #13
    boomer4d is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecmst12 View Post
    I would talk to the DA about the situation and see if this can be worked out.
    That's the plan for tomorrow. Thanks again.
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    I think that you should talk to a lawyer before doing anything, and I think that your instinct here is right on. If your daughter was not an authorized driver, and if you weren't negligent (it doesn't sound like you were since the key was in a safe), then you would not be liable for the damages to the other car and its occupants. If your daughter was an authorized driver, then it is much more likely that you will be held liable for the damage to the other car and its occupants. Your insurance may not even cover you since your daughter is unlicensed, and even if it does cover you, the liability to the other parties may exceed what your insurance is required to pay.

    I guess I'm in the minority here, but I'm not sure that the others have thought this through very thoroughly.
  15. #15
    TheGeekess is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecmst12 View Post
    Like I said, she still has the hit and run to deal with. And the law is not the only entity capable of punishing your child. You can certainly require her to do community service and be on house arrest in her room every minute she's not in school until she's 18. This does NOT have to mean "letting her off the hook".
    19. Age of majority in Alabama is 19 not 18.

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