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Car got dinged -- but there's a "love triangle" -- who's liable?

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#1
What is the name of your state? California.

Hey all,

I'm borrowing a friend's car and I need a place to park it while I'm away for a short trip.

My apartment manager tells me I can pay $50 to park in a spot which is currently under construction -- that there's just a ramp that needs to be installed -- but parking there is fine. I sign a form that says they are not liable for any damage to the car, pay for the space, and put my car in there.

That afternoon a neighbor goes to open their garage and the door swings into my spot, damaging the fender. It turns out that not only was a ramp not yet installed, but bumpers to block the neighbor's gate had been left out too. So damage was inevitable.

Now: I say the neighbor is responsible, because she did the damage, if accidental.

The neighbor says the manager is responsible, because he didn't fix the gate.

And the manager says I'm responsible because I signed away his liability.

Who's responsible?
 


Just Blue

Senior Member
#2
What is the name of your state? California.

Hey all,

I'm borrowing a friend's car and I need a place to park it while I'm away for a short trip.

My apartment manager tells me I can pay $50 to park in a spot which is currently under construction -- that there's just a ramp that needs to be installed -- but parking there is fine. I sign a form that says they are not liable for any damage to the car, pay for the space, and put my car in there.

That afternoon a neighbor goes to open their garage and the door swings into my spot, damaging the fender. It turns out that not only was a ramp not yet installed, but bumpers to block the neighbor's gate had been left out too. So damage was inevitable.

Now: I say the neighbor is responsible, because she did the damage, if accidental.

The neighbor says the manager is responsible, because he didn't fix the gate.

And the manager says I'm responsible because I signed away his liability.

Who's responsible?
Ultimately you.
 

xylene

Senior Member
#3
You need a lawyer to review your liability waiver. Depending on exactly how written the neighbor may be liable. She hit a stationary vehicle with a building door. That's not inevitable.
 

Just Blue

Senior Member
#4
You need a lawyer to review your liability waiver. Depending on exactly how written the neighbor may be liable. She hit a stationary vehicle with a building door. That's not inevitable.
OP is ultimately responsible to the owner of the car.
 

xylene

Senior Member
#5
OP is ultimately responsible to the owner of the car.
I don't believe enough has been presented about the specifics of the bailment to know if the duty of care has been breached or if parking the car here constituted negligence or a violation of the op's duties as a bailee.

I'm not exactly disagreeing, but I'm also saying that a tenant who wacked a car with a door isn't necessarily covered by a management liability waiver. How hard you'd want to push that depends on the damage ammammammount
 
#6
OP is ultimately responsible to the owner of the car.
Agree. The borrowing of the car created a bailment. The OP is the bailee. The bailment was for the benefit of the OP (the use of the car). In that kind of bailment the bailee often has to exercise a higher standard of care than just ordinary care though some states apply just ordinary care to all types of bailments.

Leaving the car under those unpredictable circumstances (where construction was occurring) didn't even come close to the standard of ordinary care.

Once the OP pays for the damage, he is free to seek reimbursement from the person who actually caused the damage.
 
#7
Hi all -- and thank you everyone!

I don't believe enough has been presented about the specifics of the bailment to know if the duty of care has been breached or if parking the car here constituted negligence or a violation of the op's duties as a bailee.
here's the original text of the bailment (I think it's called):

Tenant hereby releases Lessor and its agents of any and all liability for damage, theft or loss of vehicle parked in the parking space. Tenant agrees to keep parking space clean of any debris and to use it for parking an operable currently registered vehicle only.
Leaving the car under those unpredictable circumstances (where construction was occurring) didn't even come close to the standard of ordinary care.
I appreciate the feedback!

Just to be clear didn't have any clue the spot itself was under construction -- just the ramp to get in! He signed over the spot to me, I paid the full rate, and he said good to go! I guess I don't see how this is as a predictable circumstance -- a gate literally slid in from another spot and into mine... hard to see that one coming!

So, if someone in a parking lot were to hit my car with a shopping cart would I be on the hook for the damage? It seems crazy to me but I don't know law and it could be true!

I'm not trying to get out of paying btw, I just find this all very interesting and amusing from a legal POV.
 
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#9
Ha -- I'm just saying -- I misspoke earlier, I was just trying to give context. I knew that there was a ramp being constructed but not anything else. The ramp was not an issue...
 
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#11
So, if someone in a parking lot were to hit my car with a shopping cart would I be on the hook for the damage?
No. The person who was operating the shopping cart would be responsible but not the store.

a gate literally slid in from another spot and into mine...
You originally wrote:

a neighbor goes to open their garage and the door swings into my spot, damaging the fender. It turns out that not only was a ramp not yet installed, but bumpers to block the neighbor's gate had been left out too
How does a door become a gate in one paragraph?

Never mind.

The bottom line is this: If the car owner wants you to pay for the damage because you borrowed the car and doesn't want to be bothered by going after the neighbor, then you pay and you have the right of "subrogation" against the neighbor for indemnification.

The apartment management has nothing to do with any of this.
 

Whoops2u

Well-known member
#12
The waiver will cover negligence, but gross negligence is hard to get waived. I think the manager is safe unless there is some fact showing gross negligence or above.

The neighbor's duty in this situation is unclear. What did the neighbor do, exactly, that caused the damage? What would a reasonable person in like circumstances have done? There has to be some unmet duty for there to be negligence and I don't see it in the facts. But, I am unclear about what the neighbor did.

The driver's duty to the owner of the vehicle is more certain. He has to use a high level of care to return the vehicle as he got it to the owner. Absent facts we're not hearing yet, I think he fell below that standard.
 
#13
Hi all. Out of respect for your guys' time I tried to keep this short and didn't realize that having all the little details was important. That was my mistake out of naivety. I will try to answer questions as they arise. This has helped me learn a lot so I appreciate it.

So how does the ramp relate to the parking space???
It's only relevant insofar as I knew there was one unfinished part of the space, the ramp, which allows you to drive straight into the space. Without it you have to briefly drive on the curb to get in. Maybe I should have left it out of the post.

The neighbor's duty in this situation is unclear. What did the neighbor do, exactly, that caused the damage? What would a reasonable person in like circumstances have done? There has to be some unmet duty for there to be negligence and I don't see it in the facts. But, I am unclear about what the neighbor did.
The neighbor's garage door (gate) slides open into my spot. All she was trying to do was open her garage door. However, by the design of the new spot, the gate shaves six inches off the side of my space.

As far as meeting the standards of care for the car, what is the relevanec here and what would you have done differently?

How does a door become a gate in one paragraph?
It's a garage door which doubles as a gate for our apartment. Sorry about that.

The management is responding to my emails by just saying the space is safe, which everyone in the complex disagrees with, because a gate/garage door literally opens up into the spot. It's only safe if you take great care to avoid the gate/door.

Thank you all for your replies. I'll let this go for one more round and then let it die -- I believe all the relevant info should be out there. I guess I am pretty much expected to pay myself out of pocket unless I can get my neighbor to give me her insurance info, which she has refused to do.
 

Whoops2u

Well-known member
#14
The neighbor's garage door (gate) slides open into my spot. All she was trying to do was open her garage door. However, by the design of the new spot, the gate shaves six inches off the side of my space.

As far as meeting the standards of care for the car, what is the relevanec here and what would you have done differently?
Was it obvious this was the case when you parked there? Could the neighbor see the problem before opening the door? Could you see the problem before the door was opened?

I can't get a picture of the scene exactly but know I would not park another's car in a place where I didn't know it was safe to the best I could reasonably do. I'd look around to see if such a problem could even potentially occur.

I guess I am pretty much expected to pay myself out of pocket unless I can get my neighbor to give me her insurance info, which she has refused to do.
You have enough of a claim to have the right to have a court decide. If this is big money, see an attorney. Just because you might be liable to friend does not mean you're the last man standing.
 
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