Rear-End hidden damage?


Two days ago I rear-ended a 2012 Ford Explorer (I drive a 2006 Mazda 3), this was not a major collision and damage to both vehicles was minor, there was a small round blemish on his hard plastic bumper that looks like a cigarette burn. We exchanged information, police were not called, and we both agreed it would be best not to go through insurance if possible. He took his Explorer into a body shop for a quote and it came out to $1200 as they have to replace the bumper. On the quote it also says “possible hidden damage” which apparently can’t be assessed without taking the bumper off. He also mentioned that he had been rear-ended once already this year so there could have already been prior hidden damage on his vehicle.

The guy who I hit wants me to send him a certified cheque for the amount on the quote, which he wants to cash before having his vehicle fixed. At the moment I am alright with doing this as with my limited knowledge it makes sense that once a cheque is cashed that’s proof of payment and that’s where the road ends for me.

My question is: How big of a possibility is there that his Explorer has hidden damage? and since there was no police report filed, and this was not claimed through insurance, once he cashes my cheque is that the end of it? or if he comes back and says the body shop found $5000 of hidden damage am I legally liable to cover that as well? Keep in mind there could have been hidden damage from a prior unreported accident (although I have no idea how that could be proved). I’m not trying to weasel out of paying for his vehicle to be fixed, I just want to know all the facts before I fork over $1,200 out of pocket.


Call your insurance and let them handle it, that is what it is for.

I have never been in an accident before. My insurance rate is cheap right now and claiming this would likely cost me way more in the long run.

If this person sues you it will make your rates look good.

Has the OP considered the possibility that the person with the Explorer is a “professional accident victim”? Believe it or not, they do exist, and some of them make a very tidy living by extorting money from folks who are afraid to get their insurance company involved.

Let’s assume he’s not a professional accident victim

Can you get a lawyer to draft a form that once you pay the 1200 there will be no recourse to collect additional damages, or any future litigation etc. related to the accident?

Consider talking to a lawyer. What you basically need is a settlement agreement - a legal document whereby he waives any and all claims against you arising out of the accident in exchange for the $1200. Otherwise, he could likely come after you if more damage is found. Don’t just write checks without getting any written promises in return.

My vote is for having a signed release agreement with the 1200 being payment in full no matter what happens later; especially considering the recent similar incident.

Without an agreement the cashing of a check could mean a tacit acknowledgement of liability and future payments for anything that may come up; real, imagined, or unrelated to the incident involving you.

You can probably find a release form available online and print it off for free. If the guy balks at signing off on something like this the red flag would probably go up a little.

“damage to both vehicles was minor, there was a small round blemish on his hard plastic bumper that looks like a cigarette burn.”

“He took his Explorer into a body shop for a quote and it came out to $1200 as they have to replace the bumper”

A couple of things . . .

It sounds like the damage may just be cosmetic, meaning just the bumper skin, but those don’t always have to be replaced at the first sign of trouble. Minor damage can often be repaired, for considerably less than $1200

It wouldn’t surprise me if the guy wants the $1200, but he doesn’t intend to fix the bumper. Not now, not ever

There are a few red flags, as I see it

If you pay $1200, you’re leaving yourself wide open to future trouble

Report the accident to your insurance company. Let them handle it, and pay higher premiums for awhile. But you’ll sleep well, because this guy won’t be hassling you. That’s what you pay insurance for, so that they deal with these guys, not you. Let them deal with the guy, if he decides to be dishonest and/or greedy

A final thought . . . if you get your insurance company involved, don’t be surprised if he eventually gets a fat payout, because a doctor “confirms” an injury which was caused by the accident. it’s common, and I know several people who profited handsomely from being rear ended

i would never think of doing this, but I seem to be in the minority, nowadays

Recently someone hit my wife’s bumper. He wanted to pay cash, offered $300. We got a quote and it was for over $500, but I also knew that the quote was kind of bogus because they were trying to increase their revenue.

There is a “chargeable” limit on most insurances and it is usually$1K. I called the guy and told him and discuss this with his agent. So he didn’t have to spend his money and the insurance paid for the repair, somewhere less than $400 for our car fixed, It did not affect the other party’s premium.

I believe this is the way to go for you too. This might not affect your rate at all, I also agree that the other car seems to want to cash in on an easy $1200.

Simply write on check memo final payment for damage to 2012 Explorer.

Insurance is much easier as I have dealt with two folks who wanted to pay there own way(wife is a sucker) and they were as easy to get payment as it would be from a rock. Both had no insurance(legal in my state) but the accident forces them to get it to maintain there license. I called insurnace who paid me immediately under uninsured clause and said they typically get payment as they threaten reporting them(they do anyway).

I think the person that you hit wants to pocket the $1200 and not get the repair.
Many people find it acceptable to not repair minor damage like this and just pocket the money and use it for something else.

In all honesty this is a common thing and perfectly legal.

When he sells the car he will likely be offered less than the vehicle is worth, because it had damage that was never fixed.

I’d just get a release from him that you are not held responsible for any future costs pertaining to this repair.
But do ask to see the quotes that he got from the body shops.
It has always been common to get three quotes and the insurance pays an average of the three. They cut you a check and you either get it fixed, or pocket the money.


Wow,I messed up when a Guy rearended me and made my personal bobblehead about to fly off(or at least it felt like it a week later)I let the sucker go,it was a rental car(didnt see how much damage it did to my vehicle,till wks later)(I never do that again-no good deed goes unpunished)
It sounds to me like this Cat wants to pocket the $1200.

Get your insurance involved, it will result in only a small increase in your premiums for a couple of years. One accident or ticket does not raise the rates much, its the second one that starts to really hit you in the pocketbook.

Did you exchange insurance information? If so, after you write a check, the “victim” may put in a claim anyway.

The insurance adjuster will go out and document the claim before it gets worse. And it can get worse, a lot worse.

You’d be safer legality wise if you reported the accident to the police and let the two insurance companis deal with the various issues.

But if I was in the same situation, I’d say “sure, let’s do it without involving the police or the insurance companies. I’ll pay you the $1200, and you’ll sign a document I provide which says you accept the $1200 as payment in full, and waive future claims for any further discovered damage.” I expect that would bring the issue to an end. Maybe you’ll get burned, but a person has to take some risks in life. That’s what makes it exciting.

If you call your insurance company and your cost goes up, you should find a new insurer regardless. If you have never had a claim, that should be on record along with your “contributions” to the well being of the insurqnce industry. My insurance has not gone up over four claims we have made in the 35 years we have had them. They have made lots of money the off both of us and would want to continue to. If you don’t use your insurance, you have wasted your premiums.

Even if my rates increased by 10% that is only 80.00 a year instead of 1200.00 out of my pocket now and hoping they don’t want more

"If you don’t use your insurance, you have wasted your premiums. "

I couldn’t agree more

The OP spelled the word “check” as “cheque”. That suggests to me that he/she probably doesn’t live in eth U.S… With no knowledge of the laws, protocols, and/or practices where he/she lives, I’ll decline to offer advice. In some places dealing with accidents privately is normal and acceptable, in others it’s a violation of the law.

I’ve always taught my kids to get a police report for any accident, no matter how minor, because you never know what the other owner is going to claim. And always report the accident to the insurance and (in NH) file an accident report with the police, even if you think the damage is below the limit that makes it mandatory. If you agree with the other driver not to report it, and he/she changes his/her mind and reports it anyway, and it turns out to be much more expensive than you imagined, you could end up with your insurance cancelled and defending your driving privileges in court. Then you’d really be screwed.