JOEL SIEGEL, RICH ESPOSITO, JARED WEINER and ROB NELSON
December 12, 2010
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Jay Middleton was moving his daughter out of college in suburban Philadelphia when her car rear-ended his. He told a policeman who was nearby of the minor fender-bender, obtained the officer’s accident report and filed a claim with his insurance company.
No one was hurt and no traffic was stopped. Both cars in the accident — Middleton’s and his daughter’s — were able to drive off.
But a short time later, a bill arrived at Middleton’s New Jersey home seeking nearly $300 for the cost of the police response.
“First I thought someone was playing a joke on me,” Middleton says. “But after calling the police department and learning that this is a debt that I am liable for, I just — I went ballistic.”
Around the country, more and more drivers are being slapped with similar bills.
Strapped for cash, a growing number of municipalities have begun charging for responding to accidents — services that have long been covered by taxpayers. Sometimes, the victim’s insurer will pick up the tab for these new fees — but sometimes the insurers will refuse to pay.