Do I have to pay for the repairs of a car I hit when the owner is supposed to lose his car anyway?

Question Details: I hit a car and I don't have insurance. The other driver was driving outside of his licence conditions, and has been convicted for drink driving which he hasn't told his insurance company about. He is demanding I pay to fix his car. He was going to lose his car, so he put it under his ex girlfriend's name. I have offered to pay weekly installments, as I am not in a position to pay in full. Is he really able to force me to pay for his repairs?

Filed under Driving and Traffic | 1988 View(s)

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Answers by Lawyers

Community Law Wellington & Hutt Valley

Yes, you may have to pay for some or all of the cost of repairs to the car you hit, if you caused the accident and are at fault. We don't know enough about the situation to know about your likely liability though, as it is possible that the driver of the other vehicle might have to accept some fault as well.

Depending on exactly how the other driver was breaching his licence conditions, for instance, you may be able to prove that his negligence also contributed to the accident and damage. This would make him responsible for part of the costs.

Similarly, if the other driver was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, this may have contributed to the accident and damage. The fact that he has not told his insurance company about previous drink driving might affect any insurance claim he makes, but it will not change who is liable for the accident.

Finally, the fact that the driver "was going to lose his car" and put it "in his ex-girlfriend's name" will not change who is liable for the damage to the car.

If you can't agree with the other driver about who should pay the costs of repairs, this could be resolved at a Disputes Tribunal hearing. You would both have a chance to explain your side of the story and the Referee would make a decision taking into account what is fair. For more information about the Disputes Tribunal process please see the following links:

www.justice.govt.nz
www.communitylaw.org.nz

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