Dear PoPville – Car Damaged by Newspaper Stand

Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

Dear PoPville,

I was recently parked (in a rental) on a Saturday evening in the heart of Adams Morgan outside a rowdy place that shall remain nameless. On my way out, I noticed a deep gash on the side door and a slightly bent side mirror. Both of these damages were caused presumably by one of the newspaper stands that had fallen (likely been pushed) into the car. This seems like a perpless crime but I have been slapped with a large sum from the rental company (had limited insurance).

I see newspaper stands strewn on sidewalks on windy days. A fallen lamp post or something similar can be blamed on the City. I was wondering if anyone has had similar experience with a public/private piece damaging private property and if there’s some recourse. I do not know which stand damaged the car.

We once spoke about who regulates newspaper stands here and here.

22 Comment

  • I feel bad for the OP, because getting a bill for something you didn’t do always sucks.

    That said, I’m not a big fan of his/her “see if I can blame it on another innocent party” approach. The owner of the newspaper box is no more at fault for some drunk A-wad pushing it into your car than you are. Nor is the city (and by extension, me the taxpayer) at fault. It’s not unreasonable to hope that you could park a car in a legal parking spot without it getting vandalized, but it is unreasonable to try and screw someone else because you got screwed.

    Like I said, it sucks that this happened to you, but trying to put it on another innocent party isn’t cool.

  • Does OP’s insurance cover it. When my parked car has been involved in a hit and run in past (unfortunately several times) I was eligible for the uninsured motorist deductibel which is less than an ordinary colision event. I was always under the impression that my policy covered me if I rented a car. OP – have you talked to your insurance?

  • Stop! Dont pay for anything! I hit a deer over Christmas (technically the deer hit me), no insurance (I know, not smart), nearly totalled the rental car and was sent a bill for $6K.

    After much research, phone calls, pictures … the master rental policy of my Visa card kicked in and I didn’t pay a cent. Seriously, if you paid for the rental car with Visa or MasterCard, call them ASAP.

  • SusanRH

    If you rented the car with an Amex or many visa’s or master cards, they will cover your damage. Call up your creditcard company and see if they can help you out. My bf rented a car that was totaled and Amex covered the whole thing, no questioned asked.

  • Yeah, I wouldn’t call this a perpless crime, since as you say, it was likely done by someone pushing over the stands. That’s an unidentified perp crime. I’ll second the other recommendations to check with your credit card company for possible coverage.

    When I regularly parked my car on a main street in Adams Morgan, I once had someone decide that the hood of my car was the perfect place to sit. He/she must have sat down pretty hard because I was left with a butt-sized indent. Now, I don’t really care about my car (hence why it was parked on the street) so I didn’t bother getting it fixed, but it would have been on me/my insurance if I did. I just chalk it up to city life.

  • The recourse is insurance, which you apparently don’t have or don’t want to use.

    When you rent a car, you’re responsible for it and any damage caused to it. Most people don’t need to buy the rental company’s policy because they have insurance from another company for their own vehicle, which usually covers rental cars. But, policies vary, so check with your insurance company to see what it covers.

    Long story short, you’re liable for the damage to the car, but may be able to recoup some of it from insurance (assuming you have a policy).

  • Sort of related… Who is responsible for cleaning up broken window glass after a car has been broken into? The owner of the vehicle? The thief? The city? Just wondering…

  • Could the city mandate that those that put newspaper/magazine boxes out on the street 1) get a liscense (fee) and 2) secure the box so it can’t be knocked over in a storm or by a drunk douche? A few bolts in a sidwalk would do the trick.

    • Not likely. Nearly impossible to enforce and would cause all sorts of headaches for public works and related tasks in case the stands need to be moved. Sometimes, sh!t just happens.

    • saf

      They can’t even enforce existing regulations on the boxes.

  • You should always pay for the additional insurance the rental company offers. I once rented a car in Vermont and decided to get the insurance. When I got to my hotel, I noticed a big dent in the car. Someone had hit the car and left without leaving a note while I was at a rest stop. Even though I didn’t immediately report the damage, the rental company told me the insurance would cover it.

    • Actually that’s not always true. If you get the rental company insurance then most times the insurance policy on your credit card won’t cover it. And 9/10 the insurance on your credit card is better than the policy they try and sell you at the rental place (has a much hire limit, etc.).

    • PDleftMtP

      Your existing insurance may also cover it. Do your own research, but most consumer groups say rental company insurance is a ripoff, and the fact that many corporate travel policies require declining it tends to reinforce that vie.

  • park in the garage that is RIGHT THERE ON 18th.

  • I think those newspaper boxes are a scourge on our city and I’d like to see the company responsible for it being there pay. They get blown over in the wind all the time.

  • always get the full blown insurance with rentals. it really is worth is JUST IN CASE… this sounds like a drunk twenty something… sorry.

  • Thanks everyone for the comments. In fact I did call my credit card company prior to the rental for clarification on their options since I knew I was going to opt out of the rental car’s insurance (was a long rental, had to take a calculated risk). I think CC insurance will cover it with some deductible, so I’ll pursue that.
    Hmm, I hate to slander politicians, even blatantly corrupt ones, but maybe Harry Thomas can take care of it. Or maybe when he gets out of jail and returns to the council (happens in DC), they’ll assign him to a newly formed newspaper stand regulation committee.

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