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Liability for damage to car

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RebeccaM View Drop Down
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Joined: 02/September/2011
Location: Australia
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  Quote RebeccaM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Liability for damage to car
    Posted: 09/November/2011 at 15:42
About 7 months ago my son accidently scratched a car that was parked in my driveway. At the time I told the owner to get some quotes to repair the superficial scratches and I would pay. 7 months have elapsed and now the owner has produced a quote for $4000.00 saying the scratches were deep and significant which I dispute. Given that anything could have happened to the car during that time, am I liable? I have offered the owner a $500 contribution believing this is more than reasonable.

MickOne View Drop Down
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Joined: 29/November/2010
Location: Australia
Posts: 283
  Quote MickOne Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/November/2011 at 17:07
Hi Rebecca,

You / Your son are only liable for any damage that they can prove you are the cause of. If it was a small scratch on one panel, that is the only work that you could be conceived liable for. If they have decided to respray their entire car, you would only be liable for a small portion of the entire cost.

Even though you have agreed to compensate the individual for the damage done, there was no agreement to pay any amount requested - it could be accepted as implied you would pay a fair cost based off multiple quotes that you are provided.

You may be better off selecting a panel shop from the yellow pages, organise a time for the owner of the vehicle to bring it to the shop for them to conduct a quote in your presence. If they are not prepared to do that, tell them you will be happy for them to see you in court.

$4000 buys you a respray of a mid size car in a decent quality paint, not a simple scratch and dent repair.

What were the nature of the scratches? Only paint damage, or panel damage as well (ie the metal was deformed in some way as well)?

Also, if the time elapsed has caused other damage, rusting etc., you are not liable for that - the owner of the vehicle has a duty to mitigate the damage as well. However, it is unlikely that 7 months would have been long enough for that to be a factor.

Edited by MickOne - 09/November/2011 at 17:08

AsiaOilDude View Drop Down
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Joined: 17/February/2011
Location: Singapore
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  Quote AsiaOilDude Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/November/2011 at 18:29
I think your $500 offer is more than fair. Unless your child scratched multiple panels and actually dented the car, or the car has an extremely high end paint job the price seems excessive.

Secondly I'd argue that scratches on a parked car are a pretty normal fair wear and tear. That you offered in the first place was very kind, for them to stretch it out 7 months is a bit unfair.
Not legal advice. Personal opinion only. Seek legal advice from qualified personnel only.

turboadam View Drop Down
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  Quote turboadam Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/November/2011 at 12:40
$4k is definately outrageous if it was indeed only a scratch.

But even a small dent and allowing to paint ALL side panels (as must be done in many cases to perfectly match a metallic paint)would stillbe over the top.

Call their bluff on this 1.

MickOne View Drop Down
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  Quote MickOne Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/November/2011 at 14:46
@AOD - when you or one of your dependents cause damage, that is not fair wear and tear. Think of it as a trespass to goods - whether or not I put a small scratch or gouge the hell out of a panel to your car is not the point - I have still interfered with your property without any legally acceptable reason or right.

However, I agree totally that it is petty to get bent out of shape over a minor imperfection.

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