If I may have dented a car with my backpack, can the owner get money out of me?

UPDATED: Nov 5, 2011

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If I may have dented a car with my backpack, can the owner get money out of me?

My friends and I were talking after school by the main gates and we stayed there around 20 minutes after the final bell. When we were walking down the street and we stopped in front of a car. We talked there for a while and then the crossing guard (owner of car) starts ranting at us how we dented his car. I see no dent what so ever but lets continue. He demanded I give him my number so I did and he said “Your dad is paying for this” My friends say I didn’t touch the car and he is lying. He has no witnesses.

Asked on November 5, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Two different issues:

1) Legally, IF you damaged his car either deliberately or carelessly (negligently), he could recover money from you--though he'd have to sue you and win, to do so, and could only sue for the amount of the damage (which may mean it's not worth suing); that however brings us to the second issue, which is--

2) Factually, if the car owner sues you, he will have to prove, by preponderance of evidence, that you caused the damage. If he can't prove it, he can't win. So you have witnesses that will testify you did not touch his car, and also if the type of damage or dent is inconsistent with what your backpack could do, he is very unlikely to prevail.

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