Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Who Is Responsible For Damage When Junk Car Is Further Damaged?

Dear Tazi:

Last week I borrowed my sister’s car because mine was in the shop having some warranty work done. My car is relatively new and looks like it just came off of the line because I take excellent care of it. My sister drives a much older car with a lot of scratches, dings, and other body damage (including a fender that is held on with wire).

Unfortunately, while I was in the mall parking lot, someone dinged her door and left a thumb-nail sized dent in it, as well as a chip in the paint. When I returned the car to my sister she noticed the new dent before I had the chance to tell her about it (and I was going to tell her about it!). Unbeknownst to me, she went out and got a quote on the cost of repair and discovered that the entire door will have to be repainted because the body shop will not guarantee a “touch-up job” on a door with so many other scratches and dings. My sister wants me to pay for the entire cost of having the entire car repainted, because a freshly painted door would not match the rest of the car!

I have absolutely refused to pay for the cost of having the door repainted, let alone the car, or to have the paint touched-up and the dent taken out of the door when she has done no such thing in the past to repair the damage she has inflected on her car. She told me if the situation was reversed and she had dinged my car I would expect her to pay for the damage, but I told her she was comparing apples and oranges, that my car is practically new and I take care of it. This led to an argument about how I have no respect for her things because they are not as nice as mine and how I think I am better than her because I make quite a deal more of it than she. She threatened to take me to small claims court to collect, so I told her to go ahead. I received my summons today.

Our mother is beside herself over this, and is telling me that I should pay to have the car repainted for the sake of family unity and “to keep the gossips from talking”. Tazi, I have no intention of paying to have my sister’s car repainted. I realize if I go to court I will probably have to pay something, so I would like to offer an amount that is fair. What do you suggest?

Dented Relations

Dear Dented Relations:

Your sister is trying to play you for a sucker; shame on her! You are right that if you went to court you would probably have to pay something – most likely the cost of having the dent taken out and the paint touched up, but also a lot more in the loss of familial relations and whatever the gossips take out on your reputation.

She's not driving a beauty like this, is she?

I think a good compromise here would be to offer to pay half the cost of repainting your sister’s entire car. She is right that a freshly painted door on a car full of dings, scratches, and I am assuming sun-faded paint will look ridiculous, but it is not your responsibility to cover the cost of her lack of maintenance. The cost of re-painting an entire door will probably cost around $500 while repainting the entire car will go around $1200; for an extra $100 you can extend the olive branch, although I do not think you will end up paying anything at all if you do as I suggest: tell your sister that you will write a check directly to the auto body shop that does the work. This way, she cannot take the money and run but use it to pay for the repairs she is demanding you cover. If she cannot afford to pay her half tell her to start saving, that you are not going to be played for the sucker she apparently thinks you are.

Your sister would be wise to take the deal I have suggested; I doubt she would do any better in court and would most likely do a whole lot worse.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

No comments:

Post a Comment