What to do about assigned parking and a hit and run?

My neighbor rear-ended the car in the parking lot. We did not see it happen but the parking spots are assigned and at around 2 am when we arrived home neighbor’s car was parked there; our car was perfect. The next morning neighbor’s car was gone and our car had been rear-ended. We contacted the landlord and went to the police. They advised us to talk to the driver and figure it out. She (the driver) initially took our calls and asked us to get her an estimate but now she is not getting back to us. If we were to take this to small claims court do we have a sound case?

Asked on July 22, 2012 under Accident Law, Minnesota


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You would have the burden of proof of proving that the neighbor hit your car.  You may be able to argue that her asking you to get an estimate would be indicative of the fact that she hit your car because otherwise why would she ask you for an estimate.  Of course, she could deny that she asked you for an estimate and it would be your word against hers. 

Have you contacted her auto insurance company and filed a claim?  That would be an alternative to Small Claims Court.  If the auto insurance company accepts liability, it will pay for your property damage (the cost of repairs to your car) and you could resolve the matter without going to Small Claims Court.  If the insurance company denies the claim, then you could file your lawsuit for negligence in Small Claims Court.  Your damages (the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit) would be the cost of repairs to your car plus the cost of a rental car if you need a rental car while your car is being repaired plus court costs.  Court costs would include the court filing fee and process server fee.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by selecting an auto body repair shop whose charges are comparable to other auto body repair shops in the area.  If you were to select the most expensive repair shop you could find, your damages wioulf be reduced accordingly for failure to mitigate damages.  Also, you will need to mitigate damages by selecting a rental car with a reasonable rate.  If you were to select the most expensive rental car you could find, your damages wiould be reduced accordingly for failure to mitigate damages.

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