What to do if I walked past a parked car in our apartment lot and my purse bumped the side mirror and it fell off but appeared to have pre-existing damage?

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What to do if I walked past a parked car in our apartment lot and my purse bumped the side mirror and it fell off but appeared to have pre-existing damage?

I heard a sound and looked down to see the mirror dangling against the side of the car. I thought I must have broken the mirror off, so I went into my house to write a note. When I came back I looked at the mirror more closely, and it’s obvious that it has far more damage to the mirror housing than I could have possibly done. I believe the mirror was already damaged before I bumped it but I have no proof. Should I still leave a note? I don’t want to be held responsible to pay for damage I didn’t cause but I don’t want to get into trouble for not saying anything.

Asked on February 16, 2015 under Accident Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Legally, you could, IF you were negligent--which means "reasonably careless"--be held liable for the damage or additional damage done by you, not be pre-existing damage. Practically, if the other person wishes to try to sue you for the money, it be difficult to prove that you didn't do all the damage, if you leave a note admitting to knocked the mirror down. You have to make your decision in light of the fact that by admitting you did *some* damage, you may make it easy for that person to claim you did all of it.


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