Small Claims over door mirror - NickS
Monring All,

Just hoping somebody might eb able to offer some advice.

My Sister is currently at Uni, and is insured to drive my mothers Polo when she is home. During one of said trips home (18 months ago), my sister is alleged to have knocked somebodys wingmirror off along a narrow road.

The first we knew of this was a lteer from the Police saying she had been spotted at the scene. She responded to them, denying the claim.

Next a letter arrives fromt he Insurance company, detailing the claim and saying that they will be treating it as a fault incident. A quick phone call to the Insurance company revelas they have an independent witness and a picture of my mother rear numberplate. Whilst my sister still denies it, and a picture of somebodeys number plate seems scant evidence, my parents feel theres nothing more they can do, other than admit fault and let the insurance sort it out. Presume all is well and carry on as usual.

However, on saturday morning a letter arrives from Northamton County Court detailing a small claims court summons, for £1200! The claimant is after £690 for a hire car, and the rest is repair cost for the wing mirror.

Supposing my sister is guilty, my two main questions are these......

1) Why would you need £690 worth of a hire car for a smashed wing mirror on a v-reg golf GTI?

2) Whay have the insurance companies not settled between them, and why has it gone to small claims?

Thanks in advance

{sorry, pet hate of mine where cars are still referred to as having wing mirrors, hence the edit in the subject header. DD}

Edited by Dynamic Dave on 16/02/2009 at 12:43

Small Claims over wingmirror - Hamsafar
You need to forward it to your insurance company and state that you deny the allegation. Or you could just go to court if you are confident there really can be no evidence, and state that you are not guilty and if they don't agree, then say that the 3rd party has a duty to mitigate their losses and clearly haven't.

Edited by Hamsafar on 16/02/2009 at 11:59

Small Claims over wingmirror - Andy P
Big question here is why has it taken 18 months for this to happen? Sounds a bit like a scam to me.

Small Claims over wingmirror - adverse camber
Could the OP clarify the time line?

The damage was supposed to happen 18months ago?

When were you informed?
When were the police or insurance companies informed?

Have you seen the picture?
Small Claims over wingmirror - NickS
Hi AC.........

Thanks for your reply.

Incicdent occured (alledged); Sept '07
Letter from Police; Jan '08
Letter from Insurance confirming claim; Oct '08
Summons form Small Claims Feb; '09

Have requested a copy of the picture this morning form the Ins. co. (they say (it just shows your number plate).

The claim has come for the attention of my father (to whom the car is registered), but obviously he wasnt driving at the time.
Small Claims over wingmirror - daveyjp
First rule of small claims - ensure the person you are sueing has the means to pay should you win - judgement without payment is a hollow victory. I assume your sister hasn't two pennies to rub together - if she loses she makes an offer to pay it off at £5 a week once her student loan is cleared.

And who are they sueing? I assume the registered keeper or policyholder? Without proof of who was driving how can they take it further?

Edited by daveyjp on 16/02/2009 at 12:18

Small Claims over wing mirror - NickS
Thanks for the quick replies.......

That was my first reaction when my mum showed me the summons last night. 18 months is a long time for a claim to be hanging around. I would have thought if it was clear cut then the Insurance companies would have settled it between themselves, paid the claimant and the matter would have been resolved.

I advised my mum to speak to her insurers legal dept. as they have Motor Legal protection on their policy, and am waiting to hear back from them.

Its the quality of the evidence that concerns me. It seems a bit convienient that somebody had a camera ready (even if it was a mobile phone) on what is a fairly fast flowing route into the town centre. You would do well to whip your camera out in time to catch somebody you had just seen knock your wing mirror.

The size of the claim also seems wholly unjustified, the mirror assembly + labour would be £225 at our local VW garage (i just rang them), and thats presuming it was powered and heated....... (i presume it would be on a Golf GTI of that era, my SE was).

The notice has also come form Northamton, when the incident happened in Suffolk, and the claimant lives in Suffolk. Seems odd.

If they are claiming to have an independent witness, will this be a concrete case for the court to find in their favour?
Small Claims over wing mirror - rjr
The notice has also come form Northamton when the incident happened in Suffolk and the
claimant lives in Suffolk. Seems odd.

The court in Northampton processes online claims so it isn't unusual.
Small Claims over wingmirror - Chris S
Do a Google search for 'small claims court' - you'll see you can only be taken there as a last resort.

PS Also ask for a copy of the photograph and proof of where and when it was taken.
Small Claims over wingmirror - adverse camber
The amount of the claim is plainly silly.
When were the police informed? 4 months after the incident is too long to be plausible to me. I would be reporting this to the police and the insurance company as possible fraud.

The fact that a year went by between the event and them making an insurance claim seems very strange. The delay between the insurance and the court claim is plausible - I suppose the insurers have told them to get on their bike over the size of the claim.
If the inceident did occur they still have an obligation to mitigate their loss - £700 car hire isnt doing that. Have they used an accident management company?

I would want to see the picture and the supposed circumstances. Does the picture show a driver? Ideally you want the original image file - not messed about with. Then go to the location and see how likely that is. Get hold of a similar camera and see how close they would need to have been to get the image. I agree with you that it sounds very unlikely that they managed on a busy road to take a picture, yet did not attempt to stop your car at the time.

See if you can check the weather for the day etc.

How independent is this witness? Where were they? how did they come to see the event and then come forward?

iirc you can ask for a hearing to be transfered to a court near you - ask at the local court.
Small Claims over wingmirror - adverse camber
Is it claimed that she hit a stationary vehicle?
Small Claims over wingmirror - NickS
Yes, the car was parked at the side of the road in a parking bay when the alledged incident occured. Just seems strange that it must have been the "independent witness" that took the photo, not something you would do as a spur of the moment decsion. It was not queing traffic and knowing the road would prob have been 20-30mph. The other thing is the lack of any damage to the wing mirror on my mums polo............
Small Claims over wingmirror - b308
The other thing is the lack of any damage to the wing mirror on
my mums polo............

Thats the key point... it didn't happen, its a scam.

You know when you "exchange" door mirrors, the bang is very loud!!

Edited by b308 on 16/02/2009 at 14:28

Small Claims over wingmirror - retgwte
anything in the photo prove it is your car other than the number plate? for example any sticker in window or similar?

not unusual for ringers to be driving around with duplicate number plates these days to fight off anpr etc

simple photo of car with your registration is not proof its your car by a long stretch these days

Small Claims over wingmirror - jbif
All IMO:

First read where HJ advises people to take the Small Claims route for "'NO FAULT CRASHES'. If someone crashes into my car, completely their fault, how do I make sure I'm restored to the position I was in before they damaged my property?"


1. Forget about whether your sister was at fault or not, whether this is a scam or not, whether the amount claimed is reasonable or not.

2. Does your Dad not want just pass this all straight to the Insurance Company?

3. Does your Dad wish to contest this in person? Does he have the time and the ability to cope with the stress and hassle? Get him to find out all he can about how to defend himself and the process involved in denying the claim, etc.

4. If not 3, he may be wise to use a solicitor.

Small Claims over wingmirror - Hamsafar
I wouldn't use a solicitor, they will just charge you a fortune, and you won't get your costs back if you win on the small claims track.

In a civil case such as this (which I highly suspect was made through ) the Complainant has to show that the balance of probability falls on their side. This is much less of a burden of proof than criminal law which is 'beyond all reasonable doubt'.

It really does seem like a scam, as they usually wait until just before the two year time limit is up, as is the case here. I suspect they have paid ~£40 to the court as a fee and hope you will settle out of court. If they don't turn up or they lose, they will only lose £40. I they are a scammer, they will be working on the odds of you settling out of court. It's probably better than putting £40 on the horses.
Small Claims over wingmirror - jbif
I wouldn't use a solicitor,

Nor would I. I should push this on to the Insurer, pronto. But that is a matter for the OP's Dad.

Re the thoughts on this being a scam; why would a scammer take this matter before a judge? He/she is not just idly threatening to so, he/she has already issued a summons, indicating to me that they are sure of their ground.

Small Claims over wingmirror - rtj70
Is the photo of the car on that road (and identifiable) as on that road?

And even if yes, it just proves the car was on that road at some time - date can be manipulated if a digital image and therefore no use as evidence in court. Same goes for the contents of the image itself - it could be altered.

This does not sound like evidence to me. The evidence might be the witness (not the photo) but that probably would not stand up either.

Sounds like a scam to me.
Small Claims over wingmirror - Armitage Shanks {p}
I may have missed something here so bear with me.

1. Where and when did the alleged incident occur, time and place and street?

2. Was your Mother's Polo there at the alleged time and if it was not can it be proved that it was not?

I am with the other posters - this is a try on. Somebody 'happens' to be around to take a picture of such an incident - not very likely in the real world, easily possible if it is a set up/scam.
Small Claims over wingmirror - NickS
I am not at my parents now, so dont have the details to hand, but the incident occured on Berners St, in Ipswich town centre, around mid afternoon.

It is entirely plausible that the car was there/in the area at the time, and that my sister was driving. It just seems a little convienient that the cliamants witness was on hand to take a photo showing the numberplate of the car.

Thanks for all the advice so far, my father is going to ring the insurance company again later with this thread to hand as a prompt.
Small Claims over wingmirror - Chris S
Even if the witness has a photo of your sister's car it's not proof that it was involved in the crash.

The 'independent witness' could have just photographed the next car that came along if the real culprit had disappeared.

Is there any damage to your sister's car at door mirror height? If not they haven't got much of a case.
Small Claims over wingmirror - davidh
I'm more than a little confused over this.

If you didnt do it, you didnt do it.

Although worrying, I would say "bring it on". Have a day in court if necessary - lets see what you've got against me.

Being naturally honest, we cripple ourselves with worry wondering "what if it gets nasty? what if I get judged against and it goes against my record? look how much money is being demanded. I just want this to go away so I'll pay etc"

If I were up to no good I wouldnt feel bound by these sentiments of what could happen if it all went wrong with a money making scam. If I were a wrong'un, I'd just do it and try my luck.

Nasty people dont bother about us honest folk and just try to exploit us where they can. I reckon the legal system is robust enough to see this off.

Hope you win through and dont waste too much effort on it - its only probably been a few keystrokes so far for the scamster.
Small Claims over wingmirror - yorkiebar
Agree davidh.

Sometimes its important to stand up and be counted.

if you didnt do it, stand up and be proud of the facts. Difficult to prove you did, if you didnt !

Im stubborn enough to argue for ever if I am not wrong. Sometimes I happily stand up and accept responsibility. Too many people avoid that bit !

Good luck though. :)

Small Claims over wingmirror - turbo11
I would have your day in court. My sister has twice been to court due to car accidents,and won.This was despite her insurers originally wanting to settle 50/50. she has refused and gone to court to prove her innocence. In both cases the cleverness of her barrister soon unravelled the pack of lies the other party told and had them tied up in knots and contradicting themselves.If your Innocent, the truth will out.