Car Crashes & Ethics

I’m working on answering the questions from the last post; if there’s anything you’re wondering about me, make sure to ask! I’ll post answers on Friday (gives me time to get a good shot of my hair for FB).

So now I have a somewhat ethical dilemma that I’d like some input on.

Chad got sideswiped, and there’s cosmetic damage across the whole right side of my car.  The guy who hit him was really nice about and has already cut us a check for the repair cost.  We didn’t even use insurance companies since his deductible is more than the repair would have cost.

The problem is that one door on that side was already damaged – the panel was dented and there’s some lost paint.  We were lucky that the 2 sets of damage are very distinct from each other; there was no confusing which damage came from which accident.

The problem is that the older damage is very expensive to repair since it involves dents & not just paint.  We don’t have the money set aside to repair it since it was really just cosmetic and doesn’t affect the operation of the car in any way.

My question, then, is about the ethics of not repairing the new damage.  The body shop guy said there was no point repainting over the preexisting dents, so we’d have to either get both fixed or neither.  I have enough money in my emergency fund to cover the cost of the repairs, of course, but I don’t know if I want to – the appearance of my car is not an issue for me.

My feeling is that it’s not ethically wrong to put off the repairs.  The guy who hit the car did the same amount of damage whether we repair it or not.  Since we didn’t go through our insurance companies, there’s no fraud (although I’m not sure how well this hold up if we get hit on that side again).

I’ve put the money into a newly created Auto account since it doesn’t seem right to absorb it as income.  Does this make my decision better or worse?

What would you do?


5 Responses

  1. Think of it this way. He’s compensating you for having hit your car and made a cosmetic damage. Period.

    Whether you do it or not, is up to you.

    If it doesn’t bother you the way it would some people, then don’t spend the money on fixing it (I wouldn’t either), and save the cash in the Auto fund for when you feel like you have enough to do both.

    *shrug* It just means he’s giving you the cash to fix the car IF YOU WANT, and I’d only do it if I were to resell it (who wants a dented car, even if it works fabulously? It’s human nature.)

  2. I would do the same thing you did. And I concur with FB 🙂

  3. I did this once, with an illegal alien. I took the money, and eventually I fixed it. It took me six months to finally get around to it, and it cost only $150 instead of the $300 he gave me. *shrug*

    No matter what you do, this is win-win. The guy gets to write you a check, and it’s all gone. His insurance doesn’t go up. You get the damage paid for, and you do it when and if you want to.

  4. The guy who sideswiped Chad is liable for the property damage he caused and he compensated Chad for it. (I’m surprised he didn’t ask for a release of liability in exchange for payment, though.) What you guys do with the money is up to you. However, keep in mind that any accident that caused over $750 in damage is required to be reported to the DMV, regardless of who is at fault.

  5. There is no ethical dilemma, even if insurance was involved. The compensation is for the damage done, he devalued your car by putting dents into it. You can either use the money to repair the dents or take the cash to offset the depreciation. By the way I just did the same thing, we got hit about 6 months ago. Our insurance is still in arbitration but they gave us some money now, I’m setting it aside for later repairs. I have the same problem, the car has prior damage that was our fault. It makes no sense to repair only some of the damage on the car, but of course the cost to do all of the work will be more than the check I got. It’s cosmetic only. I’ve given up on having a nice looking car in LA, it gets dented and dinged all the time.

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