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Crash Taxes Bring Hefty Bills for Motorists
JOEL SIEGEL, RICH ESPOSITO, JARED WEINER and ROB NELSON
December 12, 2010
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.
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