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  • FIRST POST
    Former MSE Penelope
    Money Moral Dilemma: Should neighbour pay as her son smashed the window
    • #1
    • 14th Sep 10, 3:07 PM
    Money Moral Dilemma: Should neighbour pay as her son smashed the window 14th Sep 10 at 3:07 PM
    This is a real life MMD so please bear in mind the MoneySaver in question will read your responses:

    Please give this MoneySaver the benefit of your advice...

    Should neighbour pay as her son smashed the window?


    A neighbour's young son accidentally smashed our car window whilst playing on the street. The neighbour apologised and then quickly returned home. We were forced to part with 50 (the insurance excess) to arrange repair. We informed our neighbour but she refused to put anything towards the repairs on the grounds that (a) she couldn't afford it and (b) it was an accident. What should I do?

    Click reply to have your say

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    NB By Martin:

    TO THOSE SAYING THIS ISNT A MONEY MORAL DILEMMA THE NEIGHBOUR SHOULD PAY - JUST A NOTE


    THE QUESTION IS "WHAT SHOULD I DO?" NOT WHO SHOULD PAY.



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    Last edited by MSE Martin; 15-09-2010 at 9:15 AM.
Page 1
  • Ratch32
    • #2
    • 14th Sep 10, 9:19 PM
    • #2
    • 14th Sep 10, 9:19 PM
    How have you previously got on with this neighbour? I suggest writing her a little note stating what happened and saying how much you had to pay (just to remind her and have it in writting)....pop it through her letter box and see what happens.

    She really should offer to pay, even if it is 10 per week. The offer should have been there immediately.
  • AndiePandy
    • #3
    • 14th Sep 10, 10:49 PM
    Of course your neighbour should pay!
    • #3
    • 14th Sep 10, 10:49 PM
    The definition of criminal damage in the Criminal Damage Act 1971 is as follows:-

    A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.

    It sounds like what your neighbour's son did would fall into the reckless category, and I think it should go without saying that your neighbour pays for the damage.

    What you probably haven't considered is that as a result of your having made a claim on your car insurance, albeit being a 'no fault' claim, i.e. not your fault and you know whose fault it was, your insurance premium will rise, possibly for the next three to five years. I would have asked the neighbour to pay in full for the damage and not claimed. However, as you have claimed, you could check with your insurance company how it will affect the premium and ask the neighbour for the difference. Try the polite approach but if it doesn't get you anywhere you should involve the police.

    Children are regularly given on the spot penalty notices which their parents have to fund, this is no different except that you are offering to miss out the police! Your neighbour should grab that with both hands and be grateful that you were so reasonable.
    • RuthnJasper
    • By RuthnJasper 14th Sep 10, 10:49 PM
    • 3,615 Posts
    • 8,638 Thanks
    RuthnJasper
    • #4
    • 14th Sep 10, 10:49 PM
    • #4
    • 14th Sep 10, 10:49 PM
    I agree with Ratch32 and AndiePandy. A contribution should be forthcoming. Accident or not - it was caused by carelessness on the part of a child who is (arguably) old enough to play in the street. In addition, a child who is old enough to participate in an activity that carries enough force to break a car window.

    If I had a child, and he/she broke a car window, I would offer to pay for it. Insurance would probably cover it but, in some cases, there goes your no-claims bonus!

    I daresay the child did not intend any harm - but I would say that it's bad parenting on the part of the neighbour if she leaves her son with the impression that his actions have no consequences. If the poverty case is so genuine that even the minimal 10 cannot be offered, then perhaps the son might learn his lesson by having to wash the car every Sunday for a month.
  • colouredcob
    • #5
    • 14th Sep 10, 10:53 PM
    • #5
    • 14th Sep 10, 10:53 PM
    I do think the neighbour should pay. Even in instalments if they cannot afford it. Accident or not, responsibility should be shown. Thats half the trouble now is no one will take responsibility for their actions and its always someone else's fault.
  • FelinePrincess
    • #6
    • 14th Sep 10, 10:58 PM
    • #6
    • 14th Sep 10, 10:58 PM
    The neighbour should have immediately offered to pay, if she is short of money they she should have asked to pay 10 a week and as RuthnJasper says if money was that short then at least a gesture like weekly car washing or a home made cake would have been nice. I think the neighbours attitude is terrible.
  • Swirley
    • #7
    • 14th Sep 10, 11:25 PM
    • #7
    • 14th Sep 10, 11:25 PM
    Without a doubt the neighbour should pay - even if it's just a couple of pounds per week. Just because insurance can cover it doesn't mean it should!

    I would be mortified if it were my child, and would offer to pay, or if I couldn't pay, try to come to an agreement with my neighbour about how to repay them in kind.

    I really like RuthnJasper's suggestion of making the child wash the car!
    When life gives you lemons make lemonade. When life gives you chocolate......eat it!
  • marklv
    • #8
    • 14th Sep 10, 11:34 PM
    • #8
    • 14th Sep 10, 11:34 PM
    I'm glad this has not happened to me because I would be so angry that I would probably do something that would end me up in prison.

    Kids should be banned from playing on streets where there is heavy parking. The council should have put up a 'no ball games' sign and then a breach of that could have meant a fine. Anyway, the neighbour definitely should pay, no question about it. Take her to the small claims court.
  • marklv
    • #9
    • 14th Sep 10, 11:36 PM
    • #9
    • 14th Sep 10, 11:36 PM
    The definition of criminal damage in the Criminal Damage Act 1971 is as follows:-

    A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.

    It sounds like what your neighbour's son did would fall into the reckless category, and I think it should go without saying that your neighbour pays for the damage.

    What you probably haven't considered is that as a result of your having made a claim on your car insurance, albeit being a 'no fault' claim, i.e. not your fault and you know whose fault it was, your insurance premium will rise, possibly for the next three to five years. I would have asked the neighbour to pay in full for the damage and not claimed. However, as you have claimed, you could check with your insurance company how it will affect the premium and ask the neighbour for the difference. Try the polite approach but if it doesn't get you anywhere you should involve the police.

    Children are regularly given on the spot penalty notices which their parents have to fund, this is no different except that you are offering to miss out the police! Your neighbour should grab that with both hands and be grateful that you were so reasonable.
    Originally posted by AndiePandy
    Excellent post.
  • Hanwan24
    I can't believe she didn't offer to pay in the first place, that's the first thing I would have done as a Mother myself, before any insurance claim was made, as I realise an insurance claim would put the car owner's premium up. And if I couldn't stump up the pennies in the first place, I'd at least offer to put some sort of weekly/monthly payment in place. I'd also teach my child that his actions have consequences by getting him to clean the car every sunday for at least a month. Children need to learn to a) be careful, respectful and mindful of other people's property and b) that if they break something even by accident then they need to do something about it, and straight away. They shouldn't wait until they are asked to do something about it. That's terrible!
  • Hanwan24
    Sorry - just need to post again, as a few posts appeared in the time it took me to write my last one. Without changing the subject too much, I completely disagree with the comment about the council putting up "no ball games" signs. Houses these days are built with small or no gardens at all, so if there is communal green space then the children should be allowed to do what is natural to them and play on it. If they are young then they should be supervised and if they're old enough to play alone then they should be taught to be careful and respect other people and property. "No ball games" creates nothing but animosity and removes valuable playing space for children, and to top it off they are then given ASBOs or fines for disobeying the rule... the end result of which is gangs of bored angry kids hanging around with nothing to do and nowhere to go. So they end up DELIBERATELY vandalising things. Accidents can happen, with or without "no ball games" signs, but that is when you have to be responsible about it, come clean and offer to make right what you've done wrong, be it the parent or child. A better sign would be similar to the ones they put up outside pubs at closing time. "Please respect your neighbours!"
  • snugglepet20
    Everybody is right. Neighbour should pay. Not much of a moral dilemma is it?
  • tryfive
    Hell yes she should pay!
    This isn't a "Moral Dilemma".

    The neighbour should pay.

    There's no "ifs" or "buts" - her son did the damage, and she should certainly be covering the costs of setting things right.

    Why are you claiming on your insurance, anyway? Your neighbour is liable for the full cost of the repairs - parts, labour, and any other reasonable costs incurred as a result. NOT JUST the 50 quid excess.

    By claiming on your insurance, you've already done her a massive favour. You may not have lost your no claims bonus (it's a "no fault") - but you've just increased your future insurance premiums.

    If her son had been playing with matches, and burned your home to the ground , would you seriously say "oh well, just an accident - never mind! I was only living there..."

    HELL NO!

    You can argue about not wanting to get on the "bad side" of your neighbours, and "keeping things friendly" - but she's already wrecked that by refusing to pay.

    If finding 50 quid is a big deal for her, she should (at a minimum) offer to pay by installments.

    If she continues to refuse to cough up, file it with the small claims court. Don't bother with any of the "where-there's-blame-there's-a-claim" lawyergasms though - the procedure is straightforward, and easy enough to pursue. Just phone up the court and ask for the papers to fill out, or do it online (which is a bit cheaper)

    No, this is NOT harsh, it's just plain fair.
    Last edited by tryfive; 15-09-2010 at 12:13 AM.
  • JEWELSDAVIES
    Window Pane (Pain)
    Well I agree - of course she should pay - however just to be annoying - how about considering the age of the child - if they are under 10 they are below the age of criminal responsibility and I know in my location the police don't seem to bother chasing the parents for money if damage is caused - and most parents simply ignore the fact their child is responsible.
    This could then have a knock on effect of having to take civil action in the courts to recover the 50 excess and you MUST ALWAYS consider whether it is worth paying out court fees - does she have the capabilty to pay in the first place?
    A nice letter explaining you are out of pocket and offering to come to an agreement over it might be a better course of action.
  • Littlemissteapot
    Your neighbour is responsible for the damage and should pay up.
    Can't pay, won't pay is not a defensive.
    Because it was an accident, it doesn't mean that she is not responsible for her son's actions. She is. It only means that her son did not damage your car intentionally. What a good boy but she is still responsible because her son is a minor (I'm assuming he is a minor).
    You have every right for your car to be repaired to the same level of standard prior to the accident and not be financially disadvantaged by it because of someone else's actions.
    She is avoiding her responsibility and it is costing you 50.00 of which YOU can't really afford to lose either.
    Tell her that you'll consider a payment plan so that she is not financially over-burdened but she is responsible for it.
  • hushabye
    Devils advocate
    I have been on the flip side of this dilemma.
    My own son accidently ran into my neighbour's wing mirror whilst outside the house, it was not smashed but was hanging down from it's position. He immediately came in and told us what had happened and my husband went nextdoor to tell them and see if he could fix it back on. He couldn't and so offered to pay for the damage, despite the fact that money was very tight at the time.
    We were very friendly neighbours at the time and I had, for several years had my neighbours' children to play round frequently, taken them out with us in the holidays and watched them whilst they 'popped out'. None of which was ever reciprocated.
    She came to the door to ask for 130 for a new wing mirror (for an old Vauxhall Astra), and said the whole thing had to be replaced. We felt that we had been well and truly 'done over' and that none of the past favours had meant a thing to them.
    We rarely speak these days, and having been 'done over' by someone for what we considered to be the right and honest way to deal with the issue, I would hesitate to own up over a similar thing in the future.
    • Frosti
    • By Frosti 15th Sep 10, 2:32 AM
    • 81 Posts
    • 121 Thanks
    Frosti
    I've been in the OP's position too, when a neighbour's child broke the rear window of my van. They didn't confess, but the incident was seen by another neighbour. Knowing the family were as hard up as I was, I suggested the Mum should buy a replacement from a local scrapyard and ask a mutual friend who was a mechanic to fit it. This was done at a fraction of the cost of a new window, and the mechanic just asked for 'a drink' for doing the work.
    • telsco
    • By telsco 15th Sep 10, 3:39 AM
    • 101 Posts
    • 429 Thanks
    telsco
    Of course the neighbour should pay.
    Has the OP never seen Judge Judy? That's exactly the sort of case that they have on there.
  • Stevex
    I work for an insurer (allbeit within property claims) and know that often if they've been advised someone was to blame, it is likely your insurer will ask you for the neighbour's details and get their solicitors involved with recovering the money from the third party.
    This is something that they are well within their rights to do and could cost the neighbour a lot more than the 50 excess as the insurer would seek reimbursement for ALL the monies they have paid out to repair your car, including fees and materials.

    Other posts have also advised correctly that this incident will likely cost you more than the 50 as your premiums could now be higher for the next few years... unless the insurer is able to recover all it's outlay (in which case they will try to get your excess back too) resulting in a zero pay out on your claim, meaning your premium is less likely to increase.

    Just a 'heads up' as your insurance company may already be taking these steps!
  • Valhaz
    Smashed Car Window
    I think she should contribute at least something towards the 50 excess you've had to pay. How would she feel if the boot was on the other foot?
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