Not sure what to do - car accident situation

shineslikestarlightJuly 31, 2013

I am 21 and have been being a "mother's helper" for a woman who has five children. She asked me to take four of the kids in her car to go to Chick-fil-a, but while turning on the car and everything, I realized that the emergency brake was on when I put it into reverse and nothing happened. I looked all around for the emergency brake and couldn't find it, so I went inside to ask her where it was.
She came out, opened the driver's side door, and (while standing there), pulled the emergency brake... but I had accidentally left it in reverse. It rolled backward about a foot before the open door slammed into my car, which was parked beside it. The open door of her car created a dent in my fender and door, leaving it unable to open. No one was hurt.
I apologized repeatedly and felt terrible, but they insisted on paying for the damage. She and her husband stood there and told me, "We'll pay for it." They asked me to find some places and get an estimate from somewhere since they are new to the area. I also have texts that say she will pay for it to be fixed.
A week or two later, I contacted her to let her know I had some estimates. I went to multiple body shops in order to find her the cheapest price (and in the meantime had babysat for her once more). She suddenly was very reluctant to discuss it and gave me excuses for a couple of weeks (sick kids, etc.) before finally agreeing to meet. She chose the day AND the time.
When I arrived at her house, she was not home. A babysitter was the only adult there, and she wasn't expecting me at all. She told me that the woman I babysit for was an hour away meeting some friends at IKEA. I sat in the living room and waited for her husband to get home.
Her husband was not there at the time of the accident and English is not his first language, so communication was a little challenging. But he had agreed with her previously to pay to fix the car. I tried to show him the estimates, but only managed to show him the total for the cheapest one ($588). He then told me, "let's split the difference. Say it's $200, I would give you $100." I agreed because I felt partially responsible and just wanted this resolved. He wrote me a check and I left.
After leaving, I realized he had literally written a check for $100. This was not splitting the difference at all. I immediately contacted her and requested to meet with HER. She was reluctant and did not respond at all until later that night when I was in bed.
Today, I texted her the details of what happened and she tried to say that her husband thought the lowest estimate was $105, although I showed him the lowest estimate at $588. I explained everything and told her I would like to resolve this issue. She didn't text back all day, and just sent me something saying that she is "very uncomfortable" with the situation now and has contacted her insurance agent.
I still have the $100 check but have not done anything with it. What am I supposed to do know? What will happen?

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christopherh

Whatever happened to you pay for your car and they pay for theirs? Doesn't anybody have insurance anymore?

Either that or if you have proof they were going to pay the total, take them to small claims court and let the Judge sort it out.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 8:44AM
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sdello

You didn't say if there was any damage to her car as well.

Based on your account, and IMHO you are both responsible for the accident. you left it in gear and she should've checked or gotten into the car before releasing the E-brake.

Christopherh: depending on where they are located and what their deductibles are, going through the insurance company may be more expensive then just paying out of pocket.

Everyone is lucky no one was injured. Maybe you should cash the check for $100 because I don't think you're going to get much more out of these folks.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 2:23PM
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yllom1976

don't cash the check. that is equivelant to saying that you agree with the payment. unless you do agree. However, you should probably just turn in a claim with your insurance if you have full coverage. just let your insurance company work it out with her insurance company. whatever decision is made will not be made by you or her & will keep down the tempers & hopefully make the issues disappear. besides, that is what you pay insurance for.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 10:21PM
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tom418

I'd worry more about your qualifications to drive commercially. You are taking HER kids in HER car. I'm not sure HER insurance carrier will cover YOUR driving her vehicle. I wouldn't even accept one dollar for driving someone else's vehicle for hire unless I hada a commercial drivers license. But that's me.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 11:17PM
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