What should I do about trying to collect $2300 for damage done to my car by kids at my church?

I parked my car in the same place I always park it every Sunday. There is a rock pile next to my car due to the recent construction taking place at my church. About five kids all but one under the age of five years old were outside unsupervised and threw rocks at my car putting multiple dents in the side. The price to fix the body of my car is $2,300. The church insurance didn’t cover this kind of accident. If I filed this accident through my insurance I would have to pay a $250 deductible. Should I take the parents of these kids to court and if so, what are the legal steps that I need to take?

Asked on October 11, 2011 under Accident Law, Illinois

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the parents for negligence in Small Claims Court.  You would only file one lawsuit naming all of the parents as defendants.  You can obtain the court forms for the summons and complaint (complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons) from Small Claims Court. You will need to have all of the parents served by process servers.

Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care in this case that a reasonable parent would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).  In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove duty (duty of due care mentioned above), breach of duty (failure of the parents to exercise due care by not supervising their kids who were throwing rocks), actual cause, proximate cause, and damages.

Actual cause means but for the kids not being supervised would your car have been damaged by rocks?  If the answer is no, which appears to be the case, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable, intervening events which would relieve the parents of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.  Damages means the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit for negligence.  Your damages would be the cost of repairs to your car plus the cost of a rental car while your car is being repaired if applicable and court costs.  Court costs would include the court filing fee and process server fee.

Since it cannot be determined which kid individually caused a particular amount of damage to your car, the parents are liable for the entire amount.

You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages.  For example, if you rent a car while yours is being repaired, you will need to select a rental with reasonable charges.  If you were to select the most expensive rental car you could find, your damages would be reduced accordingly. 


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.