Curious What More Folks Would Do in This Situation (From the Forum) – Hit by a Pepco Truck

Photo by flickr user afagen

A reader writes in the forum:

I had a literal run-in with a pepco truck back in July and Pepco has decided to deny my claim on the grounds of no evidence. I’m wondering if anyone has any advice or suggestions, should I just pay for the damage myself and move on?

The basic scenario is that I was driving in a lane next to a pepco truck and after we both made a turn, one of the side doors swung open hitting my car and creating a several inch long gash/dent. Their lane of traffic was moving faster than mine and the truck continued without stopping. My lane was not moving thus by the time I realized what had happened I could not catch up to get the truck ID number.

I went through the official Pepco claims process and am still waiting for the appraisal report but based on past experiences its probably around $500 (also the amount of my insurance deductible). All along I was told that as long as they could determine there was a pepco truck in the area at the time I reported it they would be able to fund the claim. The incident happened during rush hour a few days after the derecho, so there were MANY pepco trucks driving on that particular stretch of Connecticut Ave at that time.

I have now been told that because no driver or crew has reported this incident that they will be unable to fund my claim. This seems a little rediculous, but I am not sure if it is worth pursuing further. My thoughts are that if it was a private individial who had done this – hit my car with theirs and drove off, that would be considered a crime. Now I know that it was a Pepco truck that did this but yet I have no “proof” other than seeing the truck myself, but it seems to me like they should have to pay for the damage, and more importantly as a public utlity they should hold themselves to a higher standard of accountability in cases like this.

What would you do?

30 Comment

  • ah

    I would report the incident to your insurance company and let them fight with Pepco, after reporting a hit-and-run.

    • gotryit

      I agree – this is a hit and run (even if they didn’t know they hit you). Without a police report, I’d assume you were making it up also.

  • In all car claims if you don’t have an outside witness, it is your word against theirs. I have recent experience here. Otherwise you’ll have to put it against your own insurance.

    • Yes, I was in an accident once where the other guy was clearly at fault (hit my vehicle from behind) but because we didn’t get a police report, and he reported it to his insurance company, I was found to be at fault.

  • If you can’t ID the truck it’s not particularly likely you’ll succeed any more than a victim of any other hit and run with no witnesses.

    Also:as a public utlity they should hold themselves to a higher standard of accountability in cases like this.
    You must be new here.

    • ah

      Any Pepco truck is owned/operated by Pepco or done under their authority. It’s not like saying a driver hit me–the owner of the truck is identified. The difficulty will be proving a pepco truck in fact hit him.

  • Not sure if this applies but my car was recently dented/scratch/scraped while parked in a grocery store lot. I called my insurance company (Geico) to report the hit and run- no note or witnesses. I was told as long as I filed a police report within 24 hours that I could make an uninsured motorist claim which dropped my deductible from $500 to $200 making it worth it to get them involved.

  • You should torch one of their trucks.

    /I’ve spent the last few weeks introducing the misses to the Sopranos.

  • You should take the police report from the hit-and-run (surely you called the police, right?), and use it to file an insurance claim. Then your insurance company will recover from Pepco – or just pay you – depending on their cost-benefit analysis.

    If the damage is cheap and you’re afraid of your rates going up, you should just pay to fix it. (I’m assuming you wouldn’t be on PoP if that were the case though.)

  • PAY IT and move on with you life.

    • Agreed. How much is your time worth.

      • Many people don’t have $500 available to repair a scratch on their car. Stop assuming everyone leads the charmed life you must if $500 is not worth the time of pursuing (the entity he claims to be) the responsible party.

  • U R Screwed.

  • HaileUnlikely

    That does suck; however, in all seriousness, given your description of the incident, I wouldn’t be surprised if the driver of the Pepco truck had absolutely no idea that the door of his truck contacted your car. As you note, you yourself did not realize immediately what had happened, and it was almost certainly would have been more perceptable from your vantage point than from the Pepco driver’s.

    I generally concur that public companies should hold themselves to a higher standard; however, in this case, I suspect that not a single Pepco employee, including the involved driver, has any idea that this even happened. I think Pepco’s biggest failure that I can see here is giving you inconsistent information with regard to its policies. I would have very little hope of recovering money from Pepco in this case.

  • Pick an Eddy’s ice cream truck to hit you instead of Pepco! Years ago one of their trucks brushed the side of my 15 year old car (an AMC Spirit!) on a narrow street. Slight dent, mild scrape and some pulled-off molding. They had an insurance guy out that afternoon and gave me a check for $800.00. I bought some spray paint, a tub of bondo and went to Belize for 4 months. And I never buy any other brand of ice cream!

    • Whoa, what a strange coincidence. When I get high from huffing bondo, I also call it “going to Belize”!!!

  • Its not about holding themselves to a higher standard, im sure we can both agree that it would not be the wisest business practice to hand money to anyone claiming to have been hit by a truck. What would stop anyone from filing a claim against everytime they saw a Pepco truck if they knew they would automatically be paid? Just move on

  • C’mon now, time to move on.

    You also need to drop the holier than thou part of “higher standards”. Without proof of “some” sort I would assume you were simply looking for a free payday as well and you can’t rightly assume the driver of the truck knew they dented/scratched someones car. Those trucks are big, noisy, full of equipment and tools.

    You can get it fixed or not. If you do I wouldn’t make an insurance claim for something so close to the deductable, because you aren’t saving any money and you have a claim against you. I know some insurance companys “claim” not to penalize you for your claim history, but it is bunk pure and simple.

    The scratch obviously didn’t impair your cars ability to function. If it is too expensive to pay cash for, then you’ll simply have to deal with a scratch on your car.

    In the end, “life” happened to you. You live in an urban environment where there are hundreds of thousands of vehicles and millions of people around you. Everyones car gets beaten up with some regularity.

    Move on.

    • This post seems unnecessarily critical.

      The OP sounds to me perhaps somewhat young/naive, but not “holier than thou.” I imagine (s)he just meant that being hit by someone in a clearly labeled commercial vehicle is different than being hit by a private individual.

      I don’t think the OP has reappeared yet to say whether (s)he filed a police report. I have a bad feeling that there isn’t one, otherwise the OP would probably have mentioned it in the original post.

      For some of the more well-heeled members of the PoP community, it might not be worth the time to pursue a payment of ~$500. But I vividly remember being an impoverished grad student, and damn straight I would’ve fought hard for that $500.

      • gotryit

        Why is it different being hit by a commercial vehicle vs. a private vehicle?

        • A private individual would be much harder to track down, and has a financial incentive to avoid taking any responsibility.

          Granted, Pepco isn’t in the business of giving its money away either, but it does have a corporate image to maintain. Presumably the driver doesn’t have to pay personally, and presumably Pepco doesn’t want to get a reputation of being a company with drivers who are in the habit of hitting other people’s cars and getting off scot-free.

          Then again, Pepco has such a poor public image at the moment that maybe they have less of an incentive to take responsibility than if they were generally held in high esteem.

      • Well, if the person is a poor student, then they likely are driving an old beater anyway.

        This person has spent more than a month of their time on something they couldn’t prove and admittedly was unsure had even happened at all at first.

        Money aside, why carry all that frustration and disappointment for 4-6 weeks on something so relatively minor? No one was hurt, someones jalopy got another road scar. Life is too short to obsess over such trivial things that had zero chance of success from the get go.

        There are many relevant life lessons to be learned from this “run in” by Pepco and how it was handled by the OP.

  • You can also try small claims court. Easy to fill out the paper work. You tell the judge your side of the story, Pepco tells its, and the judge decides. In any case, Pepco might just settle with you right before the court date as it would be cheaper to do so than sending outside counsel or wasting time/resources to send someone internal.

  • I had the same thing happen to me once, and I swore I would help anyone who ever had the same thing happen to them.
    Your answer – Get in touch with every business next to where this happened, and see if they have surveilance video outside.
    It is your best way of proving what happened.

  • This is a hit-and-run. Call your insurance company. They will know what to do.

    Im in VA, but was hit by a truck a couple years ago (embedded me in the guardrail and took off). State Farm covered it as Uninsured Motorist. I paid no deductible, got a free rental, and, since my car was totalled, got (a more than fair) check for it. I got to keep the rental til I bought a new car.

  • I would generally agree with most commenters that you’re just screwed here. Without any ID on the truck (plate number, truck number, etc) you really have no way of even telling Pepco which truck to go look at to see if the door edge has any evidence of contacting another car.

    Now, here’s where it gets tricky – if this is a lease car or your friend’s car or something like that, you will have to get it fixed. I’d ask your insurance company what your deductible is for an uninsured motorist claim (often it’s different from a regular deductible) and if it’s lower and makes sense considering it’ll jack up your insurance rates for a few years, I’d do it through them. If the total cost of the increase in your insurance premium and the deductible is about the same as the repair, though, I’d pay for it on my own.

    If it’s a car you own free and clear, I’d just leave it. It probably won’t hurt your resale value too much, and if you stay in the city long enough, the car will get beat up on all sides over time.

    One last point – I once had a similar incident in a parking lot, and I just decided to live with it because getting it fixed was about the same as my deductible. Wouldn’t you know it, about four months later, I had a car clip me in the same spot in traffic, and their insurance paid to replace the whole panel at no cost to me. So, maybe if you wait, someone will hit you again and hang around this time!

    • Oh, and one last thing – the previous ideas about small claims court is a great idea. Big companies rarely show up to defend these claims, so if you do spend money to fix it, file a small claims court claim, send it to Pepco, and wait and see if they come. They’ll probably write a check instead. It’ll cost them $250 an hour for the hour of waiting and appearing in court, the hour of prep time beforehand, and the hour of follow-up. It’s cheaper to pay if it’s just $500.

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