Someone hit my parked car with a bicycle. Can I sue for damages?

Question

Someone hit my parked car with a bicycle. Can I sue for damages?

Answer

If a bicycle rider (or anyone else for that matter) damages your vehicle, you have a legal right to hold that person financially responsible for the cost of getting the car fixed. In many instances, vehicles are damaged as a result of a traffic accident, but damage can occur just as easily in a parking lot or anywhere else where you have left your vehicle unattended.

In your situation, you may run into difficulty trying to hold the bicyclist accountable for the damage to your car. First, since your vehicle was parked and unattended, chances are you weren’t around to witness what happened. So, unless the bicyclist left a note or you’ve got some other method of identifying him or her, you may need to bite the bullet and pay to get your car repaired, or file a claim under the collision coverage provision of your own car insurance policy. (Learn more about using collision coverage for vehicle damage.)

Even if you know the identity of the bicyclist and can file a small claims lawsuit against him or her, since most bicyclists don’t carry liability insurance, any judgment you’re awarded by the court will need to be paid by the bicyclist directly. And as any small claims court claimant will tell you, getting a judgment in your favor is one thing, and actually seeing any money is a different story. Still, going to small claims court and proving your damages shouldn’t be too difficult or time-consuming, and you’ll likely feel satisfaction for having stood up for your rights, regardless of whether you end up collecting on the judgment.

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