What can I do if someone unintentionally damaged all 3 of my vehicles but has dementia?

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What can I do if someone unintentionally damaged all 3 of my vehicles but has dementia?

Our cars were sitting in our driveway. At around 3 am, a neighbor who suffers from dementia jumped into our SUV and backed into our other 2 cars. Now I have to pay out the deductibles on each vehicle because it falls under collision. He lives alone, doesn’t have much money and didn’t know what he was doing. What can I do against him to pay for the damages? And what if he does something worse down the road?

Asked on January 18, 2015 under Accident Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You can sue him for the damage he did to your cars--while dementia or other mental incapacity is a defense in a criminal case, it is not a defense to a civil case. Of course, if he doesn't have much money, it may be difficult to collect, but it is probably worth the effort to try.

You should report this to the police if you haven't--it was theft and intentional property damage. While his dementia may be a defense in a criminal proceeding, filing a police report may open the door to some other agency (such as adult protective services, or a community mental health agency) stepping in and providing him the help and supervision he needs.

If he has family, you can let them know what happened and that you are suing for your losses, and tell them that you will sue for any and all future damage--they may take steps to intervene.


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