Visitor Question

Vehicle Damaged During Criminal Act…

Submitted By: P (USA)

I let a friend use my vehicle. While they were using the vehicle it was involved in a shooting causing damage to my vehicle. The criminals were caught shortly after and charged with recklessness endangerment, unlawful discharge of a firearm and some other charges, I do not recall at the moment.

Also at the time of the crime my vehicle was parked in my friend’s yard. So my question is, must I wait for the case to go to trial before I can get restitution? Does the criminals’ insurance company pay me? Or do I have to sue on my own individually? Any information you can give would be appreciated, thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear P,

You pose some interesting questions. Hoping the criminals’ insurance companies will pay for your damages is a great thought, but the probable reality is that the criminals don’t have insurance. That’s why they are criminals.

Contact the prosecutor. You will have a much better chance of getting restitution through the criminal court system than most other ways.

If the prosecutor decides to offer the criminal(s) a plea bargain, you can ask the prosecutor to include as part of their probation requirements each of them pay collectively and individually for your damages. That way if any one of the criminals fails to pay his monthly payments of restitution his probation will be violated and he, or they, will go to jail.

You can sue the criminals in Small Claims Court, but again, because they are criminals your chance of prevailing will be minimal. You aren’t required to be represented by an attorney in Small Claims Court, but paying the filing fees may be a waste of money.

Your best, and maybe only bet will be through the prosecutor’s office.

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

Best of luck,

Published: January 25, 2012

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