Tomorrow, it will be three weeks since a a kid just past his 18th birthday totaled my car by turning left into rush hour traffic. I have some forms to fill out and send back, and then I'll be getting another $1800 or so (in two checks) from Da Kid's insurance company. This will leave me about $700 more in debt, paying a higher insurance premium (probably to do with the size of the car), and driving a car that's larger but also three years older and a more obscure make and model. The black and blue marks are gone from my knee. Am I better or worse off than I was three weeks ago? Probably a little worse off, but not as badly off as I'd feared. I've even succeeded (finally) in developing the habit of wearing my seat belt.
But check this out: Da Kid wants me to sign a piece of paper that will reduce or eliminate his misdemeanor fine for his unsafe turn in rush hour traffic:
A City of Tucson Prosecutor's Office web page explains this form as follows:
A victim may choose to enter an agreement with a defendant, or the defendant’s attorney, in which the victim recommends that the charges against the defendant be dismissed. This generally occurs after the defendant has reimbursed the victim for any economic loss, or because a victim does not wish to prosecute. A victim’s decision to enter a compromise is strictly voluntary and should not be entered into until compensation has been received. The victim must sign a misdemeanor compromise before a Notary Public upon providing picture identification. The signed and notarized form is reviewed by a prosecutor and forwarded to a judge who makes the final decision.
Civil Charges That Can Be Dismissed With a Misdemeanor Compromise
If you strike another vehicle and cause damage, the owner/driver of the vehicle may be willing to sign a compromise if you compensate them either directly or through their insurance company. If the court dismisses your civil traffic citation after receiving a compromise, there is no fine and no points appear on your Motor Vehicle Division driving record for that charge. You must first obtain a copy of the traffic accident report from the Tucson Police Department at 270 South Stone. When the owner and driver of the vehicle are different people, each must sign a compromise form.
Da Kid wanted to come see me with this, and get me to sign it and have it notarized right away, so that he wouldn't have to pay the fine, which he says he can't afford. He's already had to drop his insurance, because his rate went through the roof after the accident. But I made him fax the form instead. I'm not going to hire an attorney for this--I'm out enough money as it is!--so I'm left working this out myself. But lucky you! You folks get to help advise me. Here are the arguments as I see them, pro and con:
Da Kid has already suffered some consequences of his actions. His insurance has gone up, and he's probably in trouble with family and possibly with an employer. Does he really need to be punished further, paying money he can't afford? Heck, I've tried to get courts to reduce or dismiss traffic fines for me, and sometimes succeeded. (I always had a justification, though, such as the time DMV employees kept my registration money and didn't issue my tags. I should never have put cash in that drop box!)
This kid is trying to weasel out of the consequences of his actions, the same way he tried to lay the blame on me by telling the cop that I was speeding (which I wasn't) and that he was going 5 mph (which he wasn't). If I let him off the hook, will he learn the value of mercy, or just that he can get away with stuff by asking repeatedly?
I don't believe in being vindictive. I really don't. I don't want vengeance or punishment for this kid. It won't make me happier or less in debt (one assumes), and it's contrary to "blessed be the merciful."
I don't want to deep-six myself,either. Will this form affect whether Allstate or the courts think I was partly to blame? Probably not, but nobody seems to know. Will it affect my ability to collect on my remaining $700 loss? Definitely, assuming there was a chance to begin with. Will it affect my getting the $1800 still pending? I don't know, but who wants to take that chance?
I wasn't going to go after the $700 anyway, on the assumption that I'd never collect. As long as I get the total I agreed to with Viking, what does it matter if I sign off that "I have been fully compensated"?
But it's not true! I haven't been fully compensated. Even when the rest of the money comes, I will have merely gotten as much as Viking Insurance cares to pay. I strongly suspect I was a bit of a pushover on this, agreeing to the initial offers because I expected an even worse outcome. Must I sacrifice the truth, too?
The kid doesn't have the money. Have a heart!
Hey, I'm broke, too, and I'm not at fault here. But I'm out $700 and counting, possibly more for not having had my insurance card with me. Is it right that Da Kid is off the hook, and I'm not?
Well, I'm waiting to hear back from the insurance adjuster with his opinion, and I think I'll call the court and see how much money is involved. If he's trying to weasel out of paying $100 or so, I'm less likely to sympathize than if it's double that or more.
I called the court. His fine if I don't sign is $162, and I'd be signing away my right to recover more money from him. If I sign, he saves $162, and doesn't get the points on his license--unless the court decides otherwise.
Also, the Prosecutor's Office info thingy says not to sign until you've been compensated. I still have $1800 on the line.
John says don't sign it. The people at work say don't sign it. The nice lady on the phone at the city court didn't say not to sign it, but she implied that it wasn't fair that I'd suffer economic consequences and the kid mostly wouldn't. What do you say?