Prompted by this recent question: What are the Legal obligations of a bicyclist who accidentally scratches one’s empty parked car?

When someone accidentally causes cosmetic damage to a vehicle, there is likely to be a range of repair options with a range of costs, with the cheaper options being more conspicuous. Which party decides what level of repair is reasonable? (e.g. Does this depend on the age or value of the damaged vehicle, is there always an expectation that the most expensive/best hidden option should be used, etc?)

2 Answers 2


When you damage someone’s property, you are liable to restore it to the state that it was in before as far as practicable

What is an acceptable restoration is a matter for the parties to agree or, failing that, for a court to decide.

The parties can decide however they like. A court will likely order the type of repair that a reasonable person would use for the amount of damage.


The injured party is to be made "whole" again

Depending on the damage to the vehicle, the vehicle has to be repaired to the whole it had been before the incident.

Court adjudication of what that is is usually by using experts on car worth and the prices from a repairshop or three.

As an interesting note though, there has been a Judge Rüdebusch from . When he was handed such a suit in about 2012, he made a "location scheduling" on the court's car park, indicated the damage once more themselves, and then took a bottle of polish and remove the alleged scratch themselves. At least in that case everybody left the court "whole" but for lawyers fees.

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