Am I Liable For The Neighbor’s Driveway Damage My Son Caused?

Hello! I’m hoping you can help us and provide some advice on how to handle an incident that occurred last week. My son drove around the neighborhood, including my neighbors driveway and marked it up with a small motorized scooter. There was also a new blacktop driveway that was put in recently next door that connects four houses. He rode on that (as did all the neighbors) and then all over the neighborhood. The marks are practically gone now after some rain this week. The owners of the driveway screamed at me as soon as I stepped out of my car last week and threatened to sue me for trespass if they catch the kids on their yard, property etc. They called the police before I was even given a chance to speak with them rationally, to which the police said to me that “it was kids just being kids” and he wasn’t going to file anything. I also offered to power wash it, but they refused and got an estimate from the person/company that constructed their driveway. The cop said that I don’t have to pay any estimate they provide to me and that it’s up to them to handle how to proceed (meaning small claims court, I’m guessing). He told me that he told the neighbors that I don’t have to pay as well. He also said to me that he thought a few good rains should take care of it. I was anticipating getting something from court and then getting my own estimate, but they are saying in the letter they can only have this person perform the work and that it’s a special kind of material that needs his specific work to clean it. I think this is ridiculous and the marks are barely visible anymore. And I don’t have $550 to give to them as we are going to sell the house and move to a more affordable place. Do you have any suggestions for us? Among many things, these same people threatened to “fine me” $150 according county law for having a basketball hoop out in the public circle (every circle in our hood has one) during my son’s birthday party and also stated that they would rather have three dogs than one child while living in a neighborhood full of families.

Unfortunately, you cannot control your neighbors and how they handle this situation. They are entitled to file a claim in small claims court. If this happens, you will have to respond or the court will issue a default judgment against you and you will have to pay what the neighbors demand. At this point, it may be worth considering offering to pay a “reasonable” sum for the repair of whatever you feel you can afford just to make this go away. If they insist on filing a claim through small claims court, they will have to prove that the property was actually damaged and that the $550 is the reasonable cost to repair the damage. If the marks do vanish with rain, the judge will probably determine that there was no damage. However, even faint marks on their property could still be considered damage. If this is the case, you will be able to have your own estimate of the cost for repairs. The homeowners should have to prove that their more expensive, specialized repair is necessary. Because the police decided not to file any charges, you not need to act to defend yourself until they file a claim.