Who is at fault?

Dear Tom and Ray,
My question is about driving etiquette: A friend’s wife was backing out of our long driveway and hit the utility trailer that was parked off to one side. She was driving a side-by-side. I happened to be looking out the living room window and saw her hit it, pull forward to readjust her direction and back out again. Before I could get out the door to ask if she was ok, she was gone. She only cracked a taillight lens on our trailer. But she knew she hit it as it stopped her on impact. She probably should have been going slower but she was in a hurry. She didn’t check anything. So my question is do I ask her about it or just forget it. She’s the wife of my husband’s friend and I don’t want to upset my husband or his friend. But really?

OK , I give up . What is a side by side ?

Mr. Google answered my question . I just did not think of a All Terrian Vehicle.

I don’t think Ray answers questions on this part of Cartalk . Just get a new lens and move on .

The ATV may not have good rear view mirrors adding risk to backing in a narrow driveway.

OK to drive? Were you going to administer a sobriety test?

I presume this is just a 2-seat off-road-use vehicle. Doesn’t really matter what she was driving, someone backing up & hits another vehicle, even just a glancing blow, they are i almost always at fault, and they should contact the other vehicle owner as soon as possible. That’s the law, and also proper driving etiquette. What if she blocked your driveway by poor parking? You’d say something to her then right? Same thing.

Whether you should ask her about the lens damage, that’s a different matter, a question you and hubby should discuss. Maybe her husband is hubby’s boss, and will fire hubby. In which case better to leave well enough alone. IMO however, you would be doing your friend a kind service to remind her of her ethical obligations when driving a vehicle. You may decide the best solution is she take you out for lunch, done.

It is a utility trailer, not a Bentley, I wouldn’t start drama over this.


I am with Nevada , she did not stop to see if something was damaged . Not even her own vehicle . Any attempt to get her to pay for the lens is just going escalate beyond a normal request. Move on.

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You should at least tell her about it, even if your say that’s okay I’ll fix it.

just a thought. maybe she had a family emergency. it is possible she might tell you at a later date. but if not, I would not say anything and just replace the lens. but you could wait to fix it when she is outside watching. :wink:


Do you want to remain friends? if not make them pay. In a similar conundrum. We have neighbors at the cabins, and a dead tree from their property fell into our yard. It is kind of a no mans land between their fence and our bunkhouse, but legally their property. We love them, and they love us, and we have great times together. A lot of trees down, wife says let it go, so I will. They have mega bucks we do not, but going to have to eat it.

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Well of course it is her fault but trailer lights are cheap and friends aren’t. She probably just figured it’s a trailer on not much to damage. Just fix and forget it. I had an old guy run into my trailer and just drove right on.

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Well a rotted tree in bad condition would be their problem legally, but a normal tree would be your problem even from their property. Just the law. I had a good evergreen get uprooted this year and landed on top of the neighbors tree that also got uprooted. We just took care of our own trees. The problem with trees is they grow.

And you have to ask who’s fault it is? Really? Of course it’s the trailer’s fault, it should have been paying attention. But seriously unless it is some kind of expensive lens I’d just replace it and move on. But keep in mind just what a self centered, inconsiderate person she is.


It is her fault, it was morally irresponsible of her not to stop and tell you about it. If she gets offended, who needs a friend like that?

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This thread reinforces my gratitude for not living out in “the country”.

If you placed sharp objects around that trailer, and she got a flat tire while backing out very close to the trailer, would she try to get you to pay for a new tire?

If someone bumped into my manure spreader with an ATV tire, I would laugh it off. Barney Fife would fill out an accident report.

??? not sure what you mean . You are 5 months late to the party and the person who started this only made the 1 post and then drifted off into cyberspace.