Son hit a parked car after falling from his skateboard...

by Lydia
(Woodstock, GA)

My son works at a Subway, which is fairly close to his school. So close that he uses his skateboard to get to work. He was coming into the parking lot and hit a pot hole and fell off the skateboard and hit a parked car. He put a dent in the car with his body. My son didn't take pictures of the damage.

He gave the girl that was driving his contact information and went to work. Now the guy that owns the car is harassing my son to fix it. He says that my son caused $3,000 worth of damage to the car. We have no way of knowing what damage was there prior to the hit and whether he paid for those damages as well.

Any ideas on how we can resolve this? What are we actually responsible for paying? Thank you for any perspective you can give here.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Son hit a parked car after falling from his skateboard...":

Lydia (Woodstock, GA):

Fortunately, it appears your son was not seriously injured. From a legal standpoint, if at the time of the accident your son was under the age of eighteen, you are likely civilly responsible for the damage he caused to the car. With that said, you would only be responsible for the fair value of the repairs to the car.

Look at your homeowners insurance policy. In many cases, incidents such as your son’s are covered under homeowners insurance. If you do not have homeowners insurance, your next step would be to establish the fair market value of the repairs necessary to the car.

Tell the owner you will pay for the reasonable amount of repairs to the car, but that you want the car to be inspected by at least two body repair shops of your choosing. In that regard, find at least two local body repair shops in your community. Explain your problem to the managers or owners of the body shops.

What you want is for the body shop managers to inspect the car in an effort to determine the fair value of repairs to the car. This would include original equipment manufacturer parts (or "OEM") instead of cheaper and lesser quality parts made in China or elsewhere. The car owner has a right to such parts.

To have the car inspected, tell the body shop managers or owners you will pay for their time to make the inspection. That too, is only fair. If after having the car inspected, the car owner’s estimate for repairs is unreasonably high, tell the car owner you will not pay that amount, but you will pay the average amount of the body shop repairs estimates you sought.

If the car owner refuses to settle, then there's not much you can do other than hope he goes away. If not, he may sue you in small claims court. If so, it is highly likely the judge will either dismiss the case, or order that you pay the average of the amounts of the body shop estimates for repairs.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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