If my friend wrecked my car and is refusing to pay the damages, can I sue him?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If my friend wrecked my car and is refusing to pay the damages, can I sue him?

My friend was driving my car and wrecked the vehicle, with me in it. He is now refusing to pay for the damages, can I sue him in small claims court for this? The damages are somewhere around $4,500. He was at the scene when the police arrived. I have a police report indicting him. He didn’t have a license at the time, which I wasn’t aware of, he showed me his license but I later found out it was revoked. I have a copy of the police report, pictures of the damaged vehicle, estimate statements from my insurance company and the repair shop, and also text

messages from when I tried to personally settle the matter. Also, say I

Asked on April 12, 2016 under Accident Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If he was at fault in causing the accident--i.e. the accident occured due to his driving carelessly or negligently--then legally, he is liable for the damages he caused. You could sue him for the money, and as long as you could show or prove his negligence (such as by your testimony, since you witnessed how he was driving; or by a police report), you could get a money judgment from court against him, ordering him to pay.
(Note that if he was not at fault--for example, a deer or a pedestian jumped out in front of the car and he had to swerve into a tree for that reason--he is not liable; liability depends on fault.)
Collecting though is a different issue, if he does not or cannot pay. You cannot go against his grandparents' property: they are not liable for this accidents, and unless he is an owner of the property, people to whom he is liable or indebted have no recourse to their property. Just living with someone does not make them or their property responsible for debts or judgments.
And your state does not allow wage garnishment in cases like this. So it is very likely that you could win a judgment againt him, but be unable to be paid.

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