Ex-girlfriend vadelized my car in a jealous rage. What exactly am I entitled to?

She cut a hole in my convertible top (about 5x5 inches). I have multiple witnesses. She says she will agree to pay to patch the hole but not to replace the top. I don't think it's fair for me to have to drive around with a patch. Am I entitled to replacement of the entire top? It cost around $400. Am I entitled to any other compensation for her actions?

Los Angeles, CA -

Attorney Answers (4)

Robert Steven Walch

Robert Steven Walch

Car / Auto Accident Lawyer - Woodland Hills, CA
Answered

The answer is YES! I have had convertibles and I surely would not want patches in their tops. I think most judges would agree. Therefore, you should be entitled to a top without patches. The question is how do you get that? First, get 2 estimates for replacement tops and request your ex pay the least one. Next, find out if you will be without your car for any appreciable time. If so, you are entitled to loss of use, whether or not you actually rent a car for the time your ex's wrongful act caused you to be deprived of the use of your property (although some judges incorrectly may not recognize this loss unless you actually rent a replacement vehicle). The easiest way to determine that amount is to contact 2 rental car companies and find out the charge to rent a convertible most similar to yours. You may include this amount in your request for payment. The request should be in writing and keep a complete copy. If your ex does not voluntarily pay, you should consider small claims court. It is relatively inexpensive, fast and convenient. In addition, if you maintained auto insurance with comprehensive coverage, it may cover you for your loss, but subject to the deductible. If the replacement cost is only $400.00, your comprehensive deductible may make it impractical to use. The actions of your ex may be deemed criminal actions and if you have not made a police report you may want to do this. If you pursue insurance, your insurer may require this. You may ask your insurance agent and/or read your insurance policy. One question is will making a police report just add fuel to the fire? Might it eventually cause the need to get a civil restraining order against your ex? Only you, perhaps in consultation with friends who know your ex or an attorney, can make this decision.

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Michael A Rabban

Michael A Rabban

Car / Auto Accident Lawyer - Tarzana, CA
Answered

Will it be obvious that there is a patch? If so, you can argue that a patch will not be sufficient.

What she did has civil (monetary) responsibility. It can be a criminal charge as well (vandalism) if you get the authorities involved.

You may consider suing her in small claims court and letting the Judge decide if she does not replace the top (or if you are not happy with just a patch)

You may also consider fixing it yourself and cutting your losses short for dating someone like that!

Jeffrey Ira Schwimmer

Jeffrey Ira Schwimmer

Personal Injury Lawyer - New York, NY
Answered

She is legally responsible for the damage she did, and that includes for the cost of repair or replacement of the damaged part so that it is returned to the pre-damage condition. You are correct in that in this instance you should get the cost of replacing the entire cloth/vinyl top, and not just a "patch". Take her to small claims court. If you can prove that you use your vehicle daily to go to/from work and that you had to rent a car while it was in the repair shop, you should likely be able to recoup that expense as well. That would be about it.

Kevin Coluccio

Kevin Coluccio

Car / Auto Accident Lawyer - Seattle, WA
Answered

Your claim is not an accident claim, but a criminal act. You should report the event to your insurance carrier.

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