Over the years, I've been hit several times.
One of the few times that I actually caught up with one of the perps was in our own marina. After confronting him and relating the fact that there were witnesses, the guy agreed to pay for my damage for which I quickly got an estimate from the marina workshop (same day). I presented the estimate for the gelcoat
repair which he agreed to pay directly the next day. He was an overseas buyer who had just purchased the classic Swan yacht from the broker in our marina.
Fortunately, I woke early the next morning and noticed that he was loosening his lines intending to leave at 7am without having paid me the money
which he had agreed to do before he left. I ran in my pyjamas to confront him. He turned off his engine
and after discussion with his wife produced the cash.
The conversations woke his children
who came up to see what was happening. He looked so honest and respectable with his young family
there. Such a misread on my part.
And that's the only person to have damaged my boat that I have had payment from. The others were all non reporters, or deliberately mis informed me of their details, or just cheated their way out of the responsibility.
I think that my experiences are not unusual.
And so I, like several others, sympathise with the OP.
In most instances in my experience, other sailors do not behave truthfully. The default is that if you get hit, you need to be really pushy and demanding to get any form of payment from the other party. Low key respectful behaviour usually results in you paying your own damage bills. (Or paying increased insurance
premium on renewals).
Don't lose your resolve YachtSplinter. I entirely understand how you may suspect that the guy disappearing without notice suggests to you that he intends to avoid settling with you. I, for one, think that you are likely to be correct.