Neighbors, drunk driving, and car damage - what to do?
July 9, 2014 5:19 PM Subscribe
How to get our unemployed and non-insured neighbors to pay for car damage? Our downstairs neighbors (we split a house) are borrowing an (uninsured) car from their friend over the summer. After getting super drunk early Mon, they somehow barrelled out of the garage, hitting our car and (we think) another car parked in the street. They didn't confess to hitting our car until we approached them with evidence and long after I had already filed a hit-and-run report....
Some background/ issues at play/ wall of text:
-We are on pretty good terms with our neighbors as we share a house and yard. The leases are separate. All of us are (I think) on good terms with the landlord.
-That being said, the neighbors both recently quit their jobs and have been spending the summer partying and are (admittedly) starting to annoy us with their very loud weeknight drinking sessions.
-They are low on savings, are a month late on shared bills, and have been selling their possessions to make up for the negative cash flow.
-The driver does not have a driver's license. We know they were drunk but obviously can't prove it (and they deny being drunk at the time of accident)
-They admitted to hitting out car (only after we confronted them with photographic evidence). They vehemently deny hitting the other car although it was parked in the direct path of their movement. We know who the other driver is (and he has already filed a claim) but have not yet told him of the neighbor's confession.
-Not sure if their friend's car is insured (very doubtful), but he is out of the country and we don't know how to reach him.
-No way these kids can afford to pay us ($2K) out of pocket to fix damage, although they did offer to pay (they don't know estimate yet).
I would like to not get our insurance company involved since we had another hit-and-run on our street less than 6 months ago (our rates have subsequently increased). Not sure if there are any better options. We also filed a police report before neighbors confessed, so I'm not sure what happens if we tell our insurance that we know the car/ driver responsible. I have photographic evidence of our car's paint on the uninsured car but no such evidence for the other car that was hit, except trajectory and car location at time of accident.
Do we file a claim or do we try to get the neighbors to pay? Which way will there be less burn?
Do we tell the owner of the other car that was hit? (I know the answer is yes, but there is no evidence except plain logic that hit his car was hit in the same accident. Not sure if telling him will lead police action for the neighbors leaving scene).
I should also say that I really like where I live and whatever happens I would prefer neighbor relations to not sour (my rent will likely double if I have to move elsewhere in the neighborhood). I also am way more upset about drunk driving in the neighborhood than damage to our car and don't want that message to be muddled if we try to pursue financial recourse. In some ways, I feel like a parent for these recent grads. We are having a chat with them about next steps tonight.