How do I dispute damage a neighbor claims my son did to her car?
You give your state of residence as Colorado, and I assume that this incident occurred in Colorado. You ask for help, and I first want to inform you that this incident is a relatively common occurrence, and that if you have automobile liability insurance, as Colorado requires, then resolution of this minor property-damage dispute will occur in due course and most importantly for you, with minimal involvement on your part. You and your husband are, of course, aware that this incident involves not personal injury, but only property damage, and minor property damage at that. Secondly, this incident involves not moving, but stationary vehicles; therefore, your husband’s driving record will be unaffected by this dispute.
I assume that you (by you I mean the owner of record of the vehicle your husband drove and then parked in the parking lot on the day of the incident) had automobile insurance in effect at the time of the incident, with coverage in at least the minimum amounts mandated by the State of Colorado, that is, with coverage of at least $15,000 for property damage per accident. If your husband “exchanged information” with the other driver at the time of the incident, then the other driver, and by extension, her insurer, will know the name of your insurer. If you have not already notified your insurer of the date, time, and details of this incident, then you should do so immediately, either directly by telephone or internet, or through a local agent.
You and your husband (the driver) should only speak about the details of this incident to a representative of your insurer. Your insurer will want statements (and photographs in any exist) about the witnesses to the incident, the details of what occurred including the actual damage that occurred in this incident to the other vehicle. Your insurer through its representative or local agent has done this many times before. Your duty under the policy is to cooperate with your insurer in its investigation of this minor property damage incident. Your insurer is obligated to pay, and intends to pay, only the “damages” attributable to the damage that occurred to the other vehicle in this incident, not any damage that occurred prior to this incident. “Damages” in law differs from damage: damage is injury; “damages” is the amount for which the party that caused injury to the property of another is liable, that is to say, “damages” is the amount that the party at fault owes to the other party. In this instance, “damages” would include the cost of repair, both parts and labor, of the damaged rear door only of the other car.
You and your husband should not initiate or maintain any further communication with the owner of the other vehicle. And again, you should contact your insurer immediately and cooperate fully with your insurer in its defense of this claim.
For your information, I include the following summary of an automobile insurance policy:
Depending on the state, automobile liability insurance policy may contain some or all of the following:
•Bodily Injury Liability: The insurer will pay damages when other persons are injured or killed in an accident for which the insured are at fault.
•Personal Injury Protection (PIP): The insurer will pay for the insured's injuries and other related damages to the insured and to passengers.
•Property Damage Liability: The insurer will pay damages when the property of other persons has been harmed or destroyed by the insured's vehicle and the insured is at fault.
•Collision Coverage: The insurer will pay for damages to the insured's own vehicle, when the insured is at fault. If the insured's vehicle is financed, the loaner may require the insured to maintain collision coverage on the vehicle.
•Comprehensive Coverage: The insurer will pay for damages to the insured's automobile caused by fire, theft, vandalism, acts of God, riots, and certain other perils. If the insured's vehicle is financed, the loaner may require the insured to maintain comprehensive coverage on the vehicle.
•Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage: The insurer will pay for injury or death to the insured and the insured's passengers if caused by an uninsured or underinsured tortfeasor or a hit-and-run motorist. In some states, the insurer will also pay for damage to the insured's vehicle. An uninsured at-fault tortfeasor may be sued and his or her personal assets attached to satisfy any judgment.
Please see the information at the following links: