/ Car damaged my bike - making a Civil claim for compensation?

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mountain_stephen - on 04 Dec 2012
My bike was locked up against the railings outside our flat. One of our neighbours swiped it on the way into her parking spot, causing about 150 worth of damage (ripping of a pedal, bending handle bars). The incident was recorded on my cctv camera and showed her car causing the damage and going into her space as she returned home from work at her usual time. I also recorded the damage to her car in the daylight the next day and the scratches etc match up. Unfortunately, the camera was mounted inside and the window was a little steamed up at the time and you can only see the registration plate clearly the next morning when the car reverses out of the space. However, the only other way out of the space would require a gravity defying magic trick.

Unfortunately, the driver has been extremely unhelpful, would not provide any information about herself and denying all knowledge, and when I eventually pointed out my cctv she became aggressive, didn't want to see the cctv footage and said "I pay for my parking space, you pay nothing to lock up your bike" and so on. She then told me to make a report to the police and see what they do.

So I did, unfortunately the Police won't take action as it doesn't reach the criminal burden of proof (beyond all reasonable doubt) because they can't see the number plate during the actual incident. I'm not keen to prosecute her, I just want her to pay for the damage she caused. I'm looking to make a small claim in the civil courts as the evidence should be sufficient on the balance of probabilities. However, I'm struggling to find any advice on how to make a claim where I know only the details of the vehicle and not the driver (although I know her address) for damage to property.

Has anyone had any experience of making such a claim?

Jack B on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to scedwar:

If I understand you correctly you know the reg plate but not the details of the driver?

The DVLA will give out details of the registered keeper of the vehicle under certain circumstances.
https://www.gov.uk/get-vehicle-information-from-dvla#other-ways-to-apply
MHutch - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to scedwar:

Does your car park have a barrier - if not, there may well be a legal requirement under the Road Traffic Act for her to provide you with her name and address, and insurance details if applicable.

Or...

http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/nireland/consumer_ni/consumer_cars_and_other_vehicles_e/consumer_drivi...
Bimbler - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to scedwar:
Sounds like you left your bike in pretty stupid place to be honest.
jkarran - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to scedwar:

Write her a letter explaining the damage done, costs incurred, explain having reported it to the police but that you'd prefer to settle things amicably (include your crime number, she doesn't need to know they're not pursuing it). Include a DVD/pictures of the incident, explain her responsibility and your intention to take her through the small claims court (again, she doesn't need to know you're having difficulty with this). You may find that when given time to consider things and not faced with an angry man she becomes more reasonable.

Or you may have to find her name (ask the postman?) and take her to court.
jk
mountain_stephen - on 04 Dec 2012
Thanks for the comments. I think I'll start with getting the details from the DVLA and then a pre-action letter to her to give her chance to think rationally (again). The problem is that I was always completely civil and polite to her. I spoke to her on 3 occasions, the first to ask her what she knew and didn't mention the CCTV. She promised to find out who was driving the car that night. The second time a few days later she still didn't know who was driving her car, denied all knowledge and then I told her about the camera. She got a bit rude but said she would be in touch after asking her family who was driving the car. The third time was a couple of weeks later when she hadn't come back to me and she just refused any information and was quite rude.

As for a stupid place to park, my bike is in the widest section of the parking area, directly under the light and always in the same place. She has managed to avoid it for the last 2 years, as have drivers next to her who have big estate cars. It was clearly pure carelessness on her part (she is a young girl, often drives too fast and with loud music on).
RichardP - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to scedwar:
If you can find the name and address of the owner, write to her and post the letter (get a proof of postage from the post office, it's free and you when it goes to court all you need to prove is that you have written to her)

In the later detail the damage to your bike, enclosing pictures and inform her that you have CCTV images of her vehicle causing the damage.

Tell her that she has seven day from the date of the letter otherwise you'll take legal action. Don't forget to say that any legal costs will be added to the outstanding debt

If she doesn't pay, start the legal action

https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome

when she gets the paperwork from court she'll proberly pay

If she hasn't had the damage to her car fixed get some pictures including measurement from the ground.

If it does go to court you will have to submit the evidence prior to the hearing.

The small claims court isn't that daunting it'll be you, her and the Magerstrate and you all discuss things around a table

good luck
Richard
Chris the Tall - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to scedwar:

> and said "I pay for my parking space, you pay nothing to lock up your bike" and so on.

Whilst this sounds horribly like "I pay road tax", I wonder if she has a point

Are you allowed to lock your bike where you do ? Is it on private land - i.e. who does she pay to park there ?

I'm just wondering whether she could counter-claim for the damage to her car if you were causing an unlawful obstruction.
idiotproof (Buxton MC) - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Chris the Tall:
>
>
> I'm just wondering whether she could counter-claim for the damage to her car if you were causing an unlawful obstruction.

No legal eagle or anything but ^ was my initial thought. Tread carefully

ScraggyGoat on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to idiotproof (Buxton MC):

Don't forget to send the letter to her recorded delivery. That way she can't pretend not to have got it, and it will suggest you are serious. At this time of year she'll probably think that its a christmas present.....

If you do manage to get her details from the DVLA, when you write to her indicate that have the details and you will also be instructing your insurance company (irrespective of whether you have got one or not) to act on your behalf, and will be sending them all evidence you have including teh photographs of damage to the vehicle. Point out that in dooing so details of the accident will be end up being available on insurance companies anti-fraud database, and that when renewing her insurance she would be unwise to state that she or other named drivers on the policy have had no accidents or incidents.

Consequently to avoid a potential increase in insurance premium it would be better for her to do the honest thing (assuming of course that she is the guilty party, which of course at this stage has not been 'proven' in any form).

As a separate point have you had a written damage assessment by a bike shop. This will help you with the evidence, but also I'd be a bit worried about the structural integrity of frame of a bike thats had a peddle ripped off it.
ScraggyGoat on 04 Dec 2012
Note I think on the small claims court you will loose.....you can't prove it was her driving, therefore the magistrate has no proof, which they would need to find against her. Reasonable doubt exists. Thus as noted above your best bet is to persuade her to agree 'settle', as per advice above.

If she does get it in writing, if at all possible.
ScraggyGoat on 04 Dec 2012
Remember when writing the letter to say that you are going to inform the insurance company, and thus the details may get on the anti-fraud database, and that you are telling her out of courtsey.

Do not suggest to her that she should pay to 'stop you dooing so'. Because this could be construed as being an attempt to blackmail her into making you a payment.

If she runs round and confesses its worked. If not either give up or go to the small claims, do not get in a position where you could be accused of harassment.
Jamming Dodger on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to ScraggyGoat: Which im sure would work fine unless she decides to call his bluff. Plus im highly doubtful you can just add details of a supposed collision onto an insurance database; the potential for that to be abused by someone who has an axe to grind would be immense.
If she doesnt call his bluff, then he has basically bullied her into paying for damage which as someone has already said, blame could be pointed the other way, if the bike was causing an obstruction.
Not saying she isnt giving him the runaround, but you could end up with more problems than you started with. Im guessing if the bike was left outside tied to a railing it wasnt an expensive one?
ScraggyGoat on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jamming Dodger:

You as an individual can't add any details, thats for the insurance company, and they may well not choose to do so. Note my extra words of caution, the wording has to be very careful. If she calls his bluff its the small claims or nowt. With no further direct communication outwith of the court,unless it is to accept any admission and offer of payment.

A proportion of blame may lie with the OP, if the bike was an obstruction. However the greater amount is with the driver, not driving with due care and attention, and causing a collision with a stationary object in an area where it is not unreasonable to expect people or obstructions, loading unloading happening ect.
syv_k - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to ScraggyGoat:
> Note I think on the small claims court you will loose.....you can't prove it was her driving, therefore the magistrate has no proof, which they would need to find against her. Reasonable doubt exists. Thus as noted above your best bet is to persuade her to agree 'settle', as per advice above.
>
> If she does get it in writing, if at all possible.

Small claim = civil court, so decided on the balance of probabilities rather than reasonable doubt.
balmybaldwin - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to scedwar:

Use this to get insurance details http://www.askmid.com/askmidenquiry.aspx costs 4

Then submit a claim to the insurance company with your evidence. This means no need for the hassle of court etc

If you wish you can inform her in advance of your intention to do this, but as above dont word it as a threat.
Talius Brute - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to scedwar:


You say you don't want to prosecute, and I agree, but what exactly would you prosecute her for anyway? It was clearly an accident, so it's not exactly criminal damage or vandalism.

I think your realistic bet is to claim on your insurance, and have your insurance company claim against hers. They can get registered keeper details from DVLA.
Irk the Purist - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to scedwar:

For 150 I'd get on with my life and chalk it up to experience.
blurty - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Eric the Red:
> (In reply to scedwar)
>
> For 150 I'd get on with my life and chalk it up to experience.

And buy a litre of nitromors
Talius Brute - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to blurty:
> (In reply to Eric the Red)
> [...]
>
> And buy a litre of nitromors

To drink, presumably. Since anyone who could be arsed to vandalise someone's car over a small accident, would probably be mentally ill enough to top themself?
Orgsm on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to scedwar:

Can you get the paint which must be on the pedal matched chemically that that of her car, as further evidence?
RichardP - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to ScraggyGoat:
> (In reply to idiotproof (Buxton MC))
>
> Don't forget to send the letter to her recorded delivery. That way she can't pretend not to have got it, and it will suggest you are serious. At this time of year she'll probably think that its a christmas present.....
>
No not at all.
If you can prove it has been posted that is enough.
if any of you has had a speeding ticket, you will know that is sent by normal post and all you need to prove is that is was sent
RichardP - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to jkarran:
> (In reply to scedwar)
>Include a DVD/pictures of the incident,

No don't include the DVD, refer to it but din't give her evidence.
you have stated that you can't read the numberplate and if she realises that she may think she has wriggle space.

before it goes to court you will have to sent copies of evidence to the court and the other party


RichardP - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to idiotproof (Buxton MC):
> (In reply to Chris the Tall)
> [...]
>
> No legal eagle or anything but ^ was my initial thought. Tread carefully

Agreed, you need to go though all the steps in order and keep records of everything that happened and all correspondence.
keeping records and noting down details now will pay dividends in the long run
RichardP - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Chris the Tall:
> (In reply to scedwar)
>
> [...]
>
> Whilst this sounds horribly like "I pay road tax", I wonder if she has a point
>

If she pays road tax the she should be able to drive the vehicle that she pays the road tax for! If she cannot control the vehicle then she sould not be driving the vehicle.

> Are you allowed to lock your bike where you do ? Is it on private land - i.e. who does she pay to park there ?

The Bike had been parked in a similar location for 2 years and there hadn't been a problem, that would infer that there was no problem

>
> I'm just wondering whether she could counter-claim for the damage to her car if you were causing an unlawful obstruction.

Yes she could, however as she had no issues with where the bike had been parked in the previous 2 years she would have a very weak case.If this was the case she should have contacted whoever controls the parking scheme to remove the obstruction.

What would have happened if a car was parked in her place?

she would have phoned someone to have the car towed without causing damage to the other vehicle.


RichardP - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to scedwar:
> ..... The problem is that I was always completely civil and polite to her. I spoke to her on 3 occasions,

Good always be polite, respectful and don't give her a reason to accuse you of doing anything wrong

>
> As for a stupid place to park, my bike is in the widest section of the parking area, directly under the light and always in the same place. She has managed to avoid it for the last 2 years, as have drivers next to her who have big estate cars. It was clearly pure carelessness on her part (she is a young girl, often drives too fast and with loud music on).

I wouldn't mention anything about her age, the music and speeding as it would be difficult to prove, but as the bike was secure below a light at the widest part of the parking area should be detail by a drawing for if it goes to court. Use a google earth picture showing the car park and the collision location

RichardP - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to ScraggyGoat:
> Note I think on the small claims court you will loose.....you can't prove it was her driving, therefore the magistrate has no proof, which they would need to find against her. Reasonable doubt exists. Thus as noted above your best bet is to persuade her to agree 'settle', as per advice above.
>

I think you are getting a bit confused between criminal law and civil law.
If you cast your mind back to the OJ Simpson trial, he managed to be let off the criminal charge of murder as there was reasonable doubt of his guilt. However when his late wife's family sued him in the civil courts they took him for alot of money. because the burden of proof is less in a civil case
Dugg - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Eric the Red:

It might not be a lot to you but 150 can make a big difference to some people. I'd be following it up if it was 50. Because I can't afford not to.

I think that was a bit of a stupid comment but we'll chalk that down to experience eh?
Irk the Purist - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Dugg:

It's not a stupid reply at all. As someone who has experienced problems with neighbours, I can assure you that it is definitely not preferable to writing off 150. It can escalate wildly and has the potential to seriously ruin your life. The op may even end up having to move which will cost a lot more.

The chances of getting any money are small and the effort would be worth significantly more than 150 if it was applied to other areas of their life. Decorate maybe. Or do some diy!

mountain_stephen - on 05 Dec 2012
Thanks to everyone for all the comments.

I'm a solicitor so comfortable with the legal issues, just very inexperienced with the practical steps to take in a small case like this. Most of what you find on the web relates to PI claims, not damage to property.

Re: prosecution - no idea what the offence would be, but making a police report is the first step. Incidentally, the Met Police confirmed to me that they do not investigate any incident of damage only where there is only CCTV evidence, even if the evidence is incontrovertible, due to police resources. Fair enough, but they should be up front with that in their letters to the public rather than fobbing them off with vague nonsense. Interestingly, they confirmed that a witness statement from a third party would be sufficient as the Police then don't need to bother doing more than reading the statement.

As for paint comparisons and other CSI-esque shenanigans, I'm neither a chemist nor on CSI, so that isn't going to happen...!

Regarding neighbourly relations, we are moving out anyway at the end of December so not concerned about that...

To get to the point where she hit my bike she had to squeeze through a very narrow section where other cars park, including disabled vehicles, who do not pay for a parking space. Including guests and visitors. I asked her whether the fact they didn't pay to park there gave her a right to damage those cars... she didn't understand the point.

Finally, I've got a quote from a local bike shop but they seemed vague about checking the frame for damage. The impact was sufficient that the D-lock was able to bend the vertical wrought iron part of the railing it was locked to. How can I confirm the integrity of the bike frame?
EeeByGum - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to mountain_stephen: You could give these chaps a ring

http://www.mib.org.uk/Home/en/default.htm

The MIB is set up for people who need to claim against uninsured drivers or hit and run. Unfortunately for some though, you need to be able to identify the perpetrator which in your case you can do. In this case, they will be able to identify her insurers and you can make a claim directly.

Going to court seems a bit OTT for 150.

Good luck!
syv_k - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

MIB wouldn't be suitable in this case. If there is no injury, there is an excess of 300.

http://www.mib.org.uk/Customer+Services/en/Accidents+in+the+UK/Untraced+Drivers+Agreement/Untraced+D...
balmybaldwin - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to syv_k:
> (In reply to EeeByGum)
>
> MIB wouldn't be suitable in this case. If there is no injury, there is an excess of 300.
>
> http://www.mib.org.uk/Customer+Services/en/Accidents+in+the+UK/Untraced+Drivers+Agreement/Untraced+D...

You are assuming that she isn't insured. As I said above a check with them will tell OP if she is insured and who with. Then make a direct claim to that insurance company.
Tricky Dicky - on 05 Dec 2012
loopyone on 05 Dec 2012 - 10.7.86.161 [v2035.eth0.proxy03.pf3.sxgfl.ifl.net]
In reply to mountain_stephen: If the railings don't belong to you then technically you don't have permission to fasten your bike to them, so you'll probably be on a sticky wicket trying to get any money out of her through the courts
Goucho on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to mountain_stephen:
> Thanks to everyone for all the comments.
>
> I'm a solicitor so comfortable with the legal issues, just very inexperienced with the practical steps to take in a small case like this.

If you're a solicitor, why are you coming on this forum for advice - if it's not your area of legal practise, surely there is someone in your firm/acquaintances who will know?????

JSA - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to mountain_stephen:

You're a solicitor and you're asking for advice on a climbing forum? If you don't have experience in this area wouldn't the first port of call be colleagues?

Also, you're whining about a miserly 150 quid? should be a drop in the ocean to you unless you're on the verge of living beyond your means.

MTFU and chalk it up to experience.
JSA - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Goucho:
> (In reply to mountain_stephen)
> [...]
>
> If you're a solicitor, why are you coming on this forum for advice - if it's not your area of legal practise, surely there is someone in your firm/acquaintances who will know?????

Whoops, didn't see your post, just read the "I'm a solicitor" in the op's post and thought WTF? ;)
Bimbler - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to mountain_stephen:

I can't believe you are a solicitor and asking here for advice?

For what it's worth I don't think it's worth taking this to court. The judge can award a judgement in what ever way they see fit. This could be 100% or 50% and the same goes for the court fees.

In answering your bike frame question the only way of telling (realistically) is visually and it's very, very unlikely that any bike shop will hold qualifications to give you an answer any more accurate than you.

I'd be interested to see how the quote for damage amounts to 150 too. Unless you've got a very expensive bike.

Ps. I still think you left it in a daft place.
loopyone on 06 Dec 2012 - host217-43-180-202.range217-43.btcentralplus.com
In reply to mountain_stephen: Sorry just seen your a solicitor. I'm sure you must know what your doing.

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