What to do if someone broke my windshield on purpose?

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What to do if someone broke my windshield on purpose?

I was 4-wheeling with a group in the desert. The young man in front of me was traveling down hill in a rough section and for whatever reason (I thought he did it purposely because he applied the brake and gas at the same time), he spun his rear tires violently and sprayed my truck with rocks like shrapnel which cracked my windshield and dented my hood. We were stopped at the time and I was at a back a good distance, about 50-60 feet back. He also hit the jeep behind, about a 100 feet back. Others in the party were very surprised at his actions pointing out that he was spinning his tires. I got his insurance information. Is he liable for my windshield replacement?

Asked on December 22, 2013 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The individual who broke your windshield and dented the hood of your four wheeler is liable for the damage.  Since you have his insurance information, file a property damage claim with his insurance carrier.   Your property damage claim would be the cost of repairs to your vehicle.

It may be difficult to prove that this individual intentionally damaged your vehicle.  If you were able to prove that, you could sue him for trespass to chattel which is the intentional damaging of the personal property of another without consent or legal privilege.  Your damages (the amount of compensation you would be seeking in your lawsuit) would be the cost of repairs to your vehicle.

Since it is difficult to prove intent and since the cost of repairs to your vehicle would be the same damages you would have claimed in your property damage claim mentioned above filed with his insurance company, it is not worth pursuing a lawsuit for trespass to chattel under these circumstances. 

Your property damage claim filed with the insurance company is based on negligence which is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable driver would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).  Negligence is much easier to prove than that he intended to damage your vehicle.  Also, if you claim that the other driver acted intentionally, his insurance company might deny the claim because auto accident claims are based on negligence. 


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