Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax: Who should pay for car accident?

 

Dear Carolyn: A lot of backstory and angst go along with this story, but I’ll keep it short:

I’m in my 20s, and I got in a car accident in my dad and stepmom’s car. I did not borrow the car for fun; I was visiting them from my home a few hours away and needed to pick up prescriptions.

Car accident happens — totally my fault, although luckily no one was hurt. I find out the car doesn’t have the relevant insurance and no damage is covered.

In the heat of the moment I offer to pay, not realizing how expensive the repairs would be.

Stepmom wants to hold me to this promise. Dad tells me he doesn’t want me to pay anything but won’t tell my stepmom this. My mom and stepdad, who have had issues with my dad and stepmom not paying them things as promised, are adamant that I should not pay, and that it was their fault for not having insurance.

I am torn. I feel I should pay something, but I’m worried that if I do, my stepmom will hound me for more. But I feel guilty.

I guess the answer you’ll probably give is to pay what I can and stop overanalyzing this. Or maybe you won’t, because sometimes your answers are surprising.

Guilty Feeling

Yes, it’s their fault for under-insuring their car, but you also say the accident itself was “totally my fault.”

What also matters here: You promised to pay, your stepmom expects you to pay, your dad disagrees but won’t back you up.

What doesn’t matter one bit: backstory, angst, and what you mom and stepfather think. I get they’ve been stiffed by Camp Dad and want restitution, but don’t succumb to the temptation to let Camp Mom use you to seek their idea of justice. Camp Mom can reimburse you directly if your solvency is their main concern, and can deal with Camp Dad directly if their main concern is to settle this old account. You’re an adult and this isn’t their car, so they’re just bystanders.

Put that all together, and I think you do need to pay for the damage, in installments you can afford, unless and until your dad puts actions behind his words and calls off your stepmom.

If you’re covered by your own or Camp Mom’s auto policy, make sure you check for coverage there.

Dear Carolyn: I would like to take my husband’s last name after we marry. I will probably use my maiden name professionally since I’m in academia and have published with that name.

However, friends have given me a lot of grief about it. I’ve been told it is “outdated,” and why doesn’t he take my name, or hyphenate, or whatever.

I want to do this, and it is right for us. How can I explain that to friends who talk about setting women’s lib back decades or giving up my own identity?

A Rose by Any Other Name

You can tell them to blow it out their portholes. Liberation means freedom to decide what to call yourself, versus having society dictate it — and that includes the society of friends who want you to make their political point.

Congratulations and good luck.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.

Read more Lifestyle stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category