If I was recently backed into at a parking lot, where should I go from here?

I came out of my apartment building to go to work and saw that the vehicle in front of me was parked awfully close. So I went to the front of the car and saw that he had bumped my car and caused a quarter sized chip and stress fractures on the front bumper. I proceeded to call the local police who got the owner of the car out and I got his insurance information. The driver of the car stated that he was using the car of similar make parked next to him as a guide to how far he was backing up. I got 3 estimates for the damage which ranged around $850. The owner of the other car was unhappy with these numbers and wanted to get another estimate with him there. He stated that my car was parked over the line a little bit up front and that’s the reason that he accidently backed into it. He offered to have the quarter sized chip brushed in just cause he was a nice guy. I would like the full repair of the cracks done and he said that it really was not his fault. Do I have enough grounds that I could take him to small claims court? Or does me being parked a little over the line mean I am at fault? The officer who was there said if we needed a police report that he would be glad to write one up.

Asked on October 11, 2011 under Accident Law, North Dakota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is no hard and fast answer, since it depends on the exact circumstances--e.g. how much over the line were you? How careful was the other driver being? Etc. You certainly have enough to sue him in good faith (e.g. in small claims court, as you suggest, where you could be your own lawyer), so you would not be doing anything improper in bringing an action if you and he cannot settle; however, just from what you write, there is no way to opine whether you would win or not.

Small claims court is fairly inexpensive--usually around $25 - $50 in filing fees. If the difference between what you want (e.g. $850) and what he's wiilling to pay (e.g. $100) is significant, it may well be worth bringing the action and seeing if you can convince the court to rule in your favor.


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