Tapped rear bumper making a right turn on red, no injuries...

by A

The other day I was involved in a minor car accident where I rear ended someone at the end of the freeway exit leading to an intersection. We were both stopped at a red light, waiting to make a right turn. The driver in front of me advanced forward and I assumed he took off. So I advanced forward to the line and did my usual check for incoming traffic looking to my left.

There was a car that drove by and crossed the intersection. I waited until the car passed and the street was clear before making my right turn. I tapped on the gas to move forward, and as I turned my head back forward and right, I saw the car in front of me was stopped. I hit my brakes, but it was too late and I ended up tapping his rear bumper.

I was surprised he was still there, past the intersection line. I saw him through his rear view mirror, and I can clearly saw him holding his cellphone to his right ear. He was on the phone the whole time this happened.

My fault was not looking back to my right to make sure no one was in front of me before applying the gas, but I was sure he left the line and made his turn. I was surprised to see him stopped halfway through the turn, but on the far right of the lane. I think he saw the same incoming car, and pulled to the far right to get out of his way (while talking on his phone).

Anyways, we both pulled over to a safe area to inspect any damage. My front bumper had no visible damage. The other driver checked his, and there was just a light scratch mark and a little round ding on the center of his rear bumper, probably from the screw head of my front license plate.

He said that he couldn't find any real damages, everything looked fine, and he was just going to let it go and we could be on our separate ways. We did not exchange insurance information, we just shook hands and went back to our cars and left.

The thing is, he works for a home builder near by my home. I'm concerned we might see each other again, and he'll have a change of heart and decide to want to exchange insurance info to file a claim, even after we both mutually agreed to do nothing and left the accident scene.

Does he have the legal right to ask for my information? And/or do I have the legal right to refuse to give him my info days or months after the accident happened? Is there any way I can confirm this matter is over? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Tapped rear bumper making a right turn on red, no injuries...":

A (USA):

State laws differ on the requirements of parties in a car accident to exchange insurance information.

In most states, the law requires parties to a car accident where property damage and/or personal injuries occurred to exchange insurance information at the scene of the accident. You will have to check your own state's law. The law can usually be found under your state's traffic or motor vehicle code.

At this point, you and the other driver are well past the point of the accident. As a result, technically you may have violated the law. If so, it is highly unlikely there will be any legal repercussions.

If the other driver asks to exchange insurance information, it will be up to you whether or not you choose to do so. From the facts you present, it is highly unlikely the driver will claim he sustained an injury. At most, he might ask you to reimburse him for the minor damage to his car.

To be on the safe side, contact your own insurance company and report the incident. Unless the driver files a claim, your insurance premiums will likely not be adversely affected.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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