If a child vandalized my car, do I have to turn it in to my insurance or are the parents of the child responsible for paying for the damage?

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If a child vandalized my car, do I have to turn it in to my insurance or are the parents of the child responsible for paying for the damage?

Asked on March 19, 2015 under Accident Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

The anwer us "yes"--the child's parents are responsible, so you could get the money from them; or you can turn it over to your insurance. Everyone worries about turning it over to their insurance, due to the possible effect on insurance rates--and also the fact that they'll still have to pay the deductible. But you pay for insurance to have it available when you need it; if you never claim against it, what's the point?

And while, as stated, trying to get the money from the child's parents is a viable option, bear in mind that if they refused to pay voluntarily, the only way to force them to pay is by suing them and winning. Even if you act as your own attorney, there's a time cost to a lawsuit--e.g. taking time off from work for court. And even if you win the case, if they *still* don't pay, you have to go through collections procedures (such as trying to garnish wages or levy on a bank account), which takes yet more time. Often insurance is the better option.


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