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Son hit a car with bike

Discussion in 'Accidents, Injuries, Negligence' started by Crowdersr, Jan 12, 2019.

  1. Crowdersr

    Crowdersr Law Topic Starter New Member

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    My son is 7 years old. The other day he fell on his bike and scratched a rather expensive car. I tried to reason with the car owners but they are requesting over 3k in damages including a luxury SUV rental for a week. Owners refuse to have the car estimated at a body shop of my choice. They took it to a local dealer known for their expensive repairs. I offered to pay they deductible since they were requesting such a high dollar amount to be paid out of pocket. They explained they didn’t want the damage disclosed on their car history and that their insurance would come after me for the entire cost of repairs and car rental. I feel that they are being unreasonable with their request. The damage was a 4 inch scratch that did not appear to be deep. However at the time of the incident the owner said it didn’t look that bad “could possibly be bugged out” and this I did not get pictures.
     
  2. hrforme

    hrforme Active Member

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    Call your insurance agent and see if any of your policies cover you and your son on this.... Your should have immediately taken pics of the damage. Hopefully you have some type of coverage that will....

    I tend to suspect that this might be a leased car where the person has to turn it back in and as charged upcharges for things like this even if fixed....that may be one reason they don't want it on record. (many high end luxury cars are on lease) And in the endthe person doesn't have to go to your choice of body shops unless it's your insurance that is paying for it.

    3k may sound like a lot but i just paid 1.7K to have a dent fixed on my car roof (afraid of water leakage at fin point after fin broke).....Car repairs aren't cheap especially if they have to repaint the whole door/panel.
     
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    If you have a homeowners or renters policy, don't call your agent, call the toll free claims number that appears in your policy papers (or on the insurance company website) and report the claim. Your insurance company has experts that know how to handle this. That's what you pay for.
     
    hrforme likes this.
  4. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    If you know the type of vehicle and can accurately describe the damage you can probably still get a shop to give you an estimate without actually seeing the scratch.
    You are responsible for the damage, not for the replacement rental.
    You don't HAVE to pay anything at all until a court orders you to pay, so don't be in a rush or get bullied into paying. The owner of the car would have to prove actual damages in court and a judge would decide what you should pay.
    $3,000 is very high if it was just a small scratch. If the neighbor makes the demand again you should ask for a copy of the estimate showing the amount they want so you can see all the details of the work outlined in the estimate.
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    That's not exactly written in stone here. Alabama statute 6-5-380 limits a parent's liability to $1000 for damage caused "by the intentional, willful, or malicious acts of a minor".

    And goes on to say that "Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the liability of any such parent or parents as the same may now otherwise exist under the laws of the State of Alabama."

    2017 Code of Alabama :: Title 6 - CIVIL PRACTICE. :: Chapter 5 - ACTIONS. :: Article 21 - Malicious Act of Minor. :: Section 6-5-380 - Liability of parents for destruction of property by minor; exception.

    If the damage was not caused by an intentional, willful or malicious act we then look to negligence law which does not limit the amount but does require proof of negligence either on the part of the child or the adult before either is liable for paying anything.

    If there was liability under negligence law, then the cost of a rental while the car is in the repair shop would be compensable.
     
  6. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I agree with your legal analysis and reasoning.

    Contrary to popular myth and urban legend, parents are NOT always strictly liable for the acts (intentional, accidental, or otherwise) of their minor children.

    Furthermore, our laws presume that a child under the age of seven is unable to form a criminal mens rea ,therefore, a child that young cannot be convicted of a crime.

    Children between the ages of seven and fourteen are also presumed incapable of forming criminal mens rea.

    The matter can be litigated, but liability isn't automatically assigned to the parents for all of the acts their minor children commit, especially those children of tender, formative age.

    I suggest that @Crowdersr say nothing, agree to nothing, offer nothing, and force the person who alleges your child did "something" to her/his car to take the matter to court where all such disputes belong.

    Alabama Negligence Laws - FindLaw

    Tort Law Desk Reference: A Fifty-State Compendium, 2018 Edition
     
  7. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    It certainly doesn't seem intentional or malicious by the description given.

    It sounds to me like an insurance issue for the owner, and for which the offer of covering the deductible is reasonable.
    Any demand for more than that would have to sort itself in court and be evidenced with documentation of the actual damage and repair cost.
     
  8. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    It isn't. It's exactly the wrong thing to do. If the car owner's insurance covers the repairs it will seek reimbursement for the entire cost of repairs including the deductible for its insured.

    If the parent is legally liable for anything she is liable for all of it. If she isn't legally liable, she pays nothing.
     
  9. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    I agree.

    Here's a question for you: Why do you think you are responsible for the damage to the car?

    If the answer is because you believe the law makes you liable for any damage caused by your child to the property of others, you are wrong about that.

    Under Alabama law, a parent is liable up to $1,000 for damage resulting from the child's intentional, willful or malicious acts. See Alabama Code section 6-5-380. Even if your child falling off his bike at the age of 7 can be construed as negligence, there is no law that makes a parent generally liable for damage resulting from a minor child's negligence.

    Stated differently, unless there is some argument that the damage resulted from your own negligence (e.g., you failed to reasonably supervise your child), then you have no liability here.
     

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