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Ask Anyone

hit and run?

I live on one of those narrow one-way West Side streets where you have to move your car from one side to another on (now, as of last year) Mondays and Thursdays at 6pm. In fact, because parking enforcement hangs 15 minutes early, waiting to write tickets, folks tend to start moving their cars around 5:30. This can create an obstacle course at transition time, with cars parked on both sides, sometimes making the street impassable.

This was the case the other day, and navigating that obstacle course at 5:45—before the turnover time—I clipped a car parked on what would be, in 15 minutes, the wrong side of the road, as I avoided an SUV that had moved a bit early to what would soon be the correct side of the road.

I did not pull over immediately. Instead, I drove down the block, found what would soon be a legal parking spot, dug into the door pocket of my car for a pen and paper, and walked back to leave a note on the car I’d scraped.

Just as I got there, a pickup truck turned on to our little one-way street and confronted the same problem I had, but the pickup failed to navigate that gap much more dramatically: It totally crunched the car that I had merely touched. I watched the truck hang up on the car, backing up and moving forward, doing more and more damage.

But before that happened, I’d already seen what I might have done: The passenger side sideview mirror lay on the ground. The truck certainly would have knocked that off, too, given its angle of incidence, and in fact did far worse damage to the car in question—a nice one, a late-model VW. The truck pretty much destroyed the front passenger’s-side quarter panel.

I’d done some small damage to the car, for sure, which I was ready to cop to. But the truck came after me and did major damage—and I was not about to cop to that. What was my obligation? What would you do?

Fender Bender

The Omniscient One says: I don’t see the point of saying anything other than to make yourself feel good. What you’ll do is cause a lot of problems and delays for the guy trying to get paid for the damage to his vehicle. Imagine two insurance companies wasting time scrutinizing the invoice like two people in a restaurant arguing over who ate more from the kettle of soup before paying the bill. How could you tell? It would be impossible to estimate what damage you did and what damage the other car did without having some kind of photographic record of the vehicle between collisions.

Smart Money says: Wow. You lucked out. Unless someone saw you bump the car and you get stuck for all the damages. Like that asshole (yes, I automatically assume people driving SUVs are assholes) who ran you off the road. He/she has probably already blown you in.

Strictly Classified says: Fess up. You would want someone to tell you if he may have hit your car. Be sure to provide all the details you have. Since you didn’t cause much (if any) damage, the owner of the car will likely go after the driver of the truck—reporting two accidents on one day would really mess up the owner’s insurance rates.

The Bookworm says: I would buy a lottery ticket.

Ask Anyone is local advice for locals with problems. Send your questions for our panel of experts to

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