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Fgatrio

Daughter's vandalism

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My daughter, age 8, vandalized a neighbor's car while playing outside.  She painted mud hearts on her trunk, and in the process scratched the car.  The scratches are not horrible, but they are visible when standing close to the trunk.  She was disciplined and we went over to the neighbors to apologize.  I agreed to pay for any damages.  A few days later the neighbor contacts me and informs me that she went to her car's dealership and they told her it would be 1900.00 to repaint the trunk of her car.  She also informed she needed it done in 30 days, she would not be going anywhere else, and she would not file a claim.  I am attempting to do the right thing, however I am wondering is this the right process?

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Depends on how you define "right", I suppose. I would tell her that I'm not paying a grossly inflated price to fix scratches (I'd never have work done by dealer), and that I hope she decides to approach more reasonably.

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 I am attempting to do the right thing, however I am wondering is this the right process?

 

One step in the right process is to demand a copy of the shop's estimate and insist on taking photos of the damage.

 

If she balks, you are free to tell her to pound sand and take your chances.

 

Or, if you have homeowners or renters insurance, report this to your insurance company and let the experts handle it.

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ok, thank you.  I have an estimate and photos.  The mud had gravel in it that did some damage, but I have spoken to a few shops and they are saying a full body paint job is not going to cost that much.  Im terrified of her pressing charges against myself, or worse, my 8 year old.  That is why I am trying to keep this away from court, but she is pushing me into a corner.

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Uhm, pressing charges against you for what? :) And I don't see any prosecutor pursuing anything against your daughter as a juvenile even if she said she scratched the car on purpose. Don't make me worry about you® sanity, 'cause that would leave me worrying about your kid's future. :)

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The mud had gravel in it that did some damage, but I have spoken to a few shops and they are saying a full body paint job is not going to cost that much.

 

That's right. You can get your car painted for about $700 at Earl Scheib of Maaco and you are quite welcome to do that to your own car but she is entitled to repair and paint to factory specifications.

 

I dinged a car in a parking lot seven or eight years ago and it was $1300 to repair and repaint the fender so it's not surprising that repair and repaint of a trunk might be higher than that today, especially if it's with a dealer's shop, which is her right.

 

 

  I'm terrified of her pressing charges against myself, or worse, my 8 year old. 

 

 

Not gonna happen.

 

 

 That is why I am trying to keep this away from court, but she is pushing me into a corner.

 

If you aren't up to handling this yourself, call your insurance company and let the experts handle it. Otherwise, write her a check and be done with it.

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I am wondering is this the right process?

 

There's no such thing as a "right" or "wrong" process.  Until and unless this matter goes before a court, it's entirely a matter of what the two of you can agree to.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

 

1. If $1,900 is what it costs to restore the trunk, then that's what it costs, but I share your incredulity about the price.

2. In my view, the refusal to go anywhere but a dealer is unreasonable, but others could reasonably disagree about that.

3. Under NC law, a parent is only liable for damage to property caused by a child if the parent has negligently supervised the child or if the child has "maliciously or willfully" damaged the property.  N.C.G.S. section 1-538.1.  I think this is important because I think the owner would have a hard time proving that your 8-year old was acting "maliciously or willfully."

4. Whether or not the car owner submits a claim to his insurer isn't relevant to you.  If he does submit a claim and the insurer pays, the insurer can come after you to the same extent that the owner could to recover the amounts paid (i.e., it would simply be a matter of you owing the owner $1,900 or you owing the owner $500 for the deductible (that's an assumption of course) and owing $1,400 to the insurer.

5. If you have homeowner's or renter's insurance, the damage may be covered under your policy.  Call your insurer and ask about this.

 

 

 

Im terrified of her pressing charges against myself, or worse, my 8 year old.

 

That doesn't make a bit of sense.  No crime occurred here.

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I worked in a auto shop when I was putting myself through school, so I've got a bit of experience with this sort of thing.  While that estimate seems a little high (I'd have to actually see the damage, and know more about the enviornmental laws in your particular part of the country--some places make it extremely costly to run a spray shop), there are a couple of things you need to take into consideration when you're talking about that sort of work.

 

1.  If the scratches are deep, through the clearcoat, or down into the primer, the body panel may have to be stripped prior to being painted for them to be able to lay an even coat of paint.  Auto paint is thinned to a very liquidy consistency so it will aresolize properly; it's not like using latex paint on a house where the paint will act as a filler.  And if there is actual damage to the underlying metal or (for your sake I hope not) plastic of the body panels the amount of work involved gets exponentially more labor intensive.  At $160(+) an hour this adds up really quickly.  (Yes, a good painter gets paid more than a bad attorney.)

 

2.  If there are scratches to the vehicle's lenses they will require replacement.  Lenses are painfully expensive, that's just the facts of life.  I was in for well over $300 for a tail light in a Buick not too long ago, and that was easily available...

 

3.  Finally, painting a trunk lid isn't just painting a trunk lid, because paint isn't just paint.  (Obtuse, but stay with me for a second here.)  Paint color varies between batches.  And as a car ages the paint will change color from being in the sun.  So not only does the spray guy have to match his pot (the paint in the sprayer) to the actual color on the car, when he sprays the lid he has to "feather" the paint on the surrounding body panels so that the two colors blend well enough to look correct.

 

While "you can get your car painted for about $700 at Earl Scheib or Maaco" that's exactly what you're going to get--$700 worth of paint job.  And it will look it.  They're cheap because they use subpar materials, don't match the paint well, and don't do the masking and prep work to any sort of good standard.  Garbage in, garbage out.  And as the previous poster correctly pointed out, you can do that all day with your own property, but you can't expect someone who you've injured to have to live with that.  You owe them a standard of work that puts them back where they were before your negligent parenting caused them harm.

 

Homeowner's or renter's insurance often has a liability rider which likely would cover an incident like this.  My suggestion is that you contact your underwriter and find out--they are knowledgable about local pricing and will have a better idea if $1,900 is reasonable within your market.  Regardless of how this eventually works out, rest assured it will be an expensive lesson on teaching your child to respect other people's property.

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I recently had a vandalism by a juvenile case go to trial

in our Small Claims division. Mom claimed that her

child/children could not have been the ones shooting

a BB gun at my client's house for target practice so

she couldn't have been at fault.

 

We had one written estimate for $2,600 + various pics

of the damage to the siding. The Judge at trial had

these choices: $2,600 or zero or some amount 

in between. Her children did not testify and hearsay

is admissible in Small Claims cases in my state.

Police investigated and turned their investigation

over to Juvenile Court probation dept (who chose

not to take any action against juveniles)

 

Result was: Judgment for Pltf for $750 + Court costs.

Judge at Small Claims Trial provided no explanation

for his decision.

 

The upshot of this anecdote is that anything can

happen in a Small Claims trial on issues like this.

 

Ironically, Mom had worked in the Claims Office

of a major insurance company but had gotten

fired from there so she had cancelled her

homeowners' coverage through that prior

employer. Mom hired her own private attorney

for the Small Claims trial. My client had decided 

before trial ever took place not to submit the claim

to my client's own homeowner's insurance co. for

coverage.

 

 

 

 

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