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My old car was hit at the car dealership after buying a new car and leaving my old car overnight.Whos responsible?

Nashua, NH |

I just bought a new car last week.After signing all my paper work it was pretty late and I couldn't get a ride back to pick up my old car that I had drove there in,so the salesman told me to leave my old car here overnight and pick it up the next day when I can get a ride.He told me to park it in the back where the employees park there cars and where they put the trade ins.So only employees go into this parking lot.The next day I went to pick up my car and tried to get in and I couldn't open the door.I look down and saw a big dent with white paint on the dent.I then told the dealer and he said it's not there responsibility.They then agreed to fix it.Again I go to pick it up and even tho the white paint has been removed,there is still a dent.Is this my problem or should they fix it seeing it was obviously one of there employees.

Attorney Answers 1


If you where still in control of the vehicle you will have to show they acted unreasonably in protecting the vehicles on their lot. .if you left them in charge of the car it's a bailment. No matter how a bailment arises, the bailee will incur some liability in the taking of a bailment. Different jurisdictions maintain different standards of care.
Strict liability
The old common law held a bailee strictly liable for the bailment. The exception to this rule was the case of involuntary bailments (see below), when the bailee is only held to a standard of due care.
Tiered system
In many jurisdictions the system of strict liability has been replaced by a tiered system of liability that depends on the relationship of the bailee to the bailor. The bailee is generally expected to take reasonable precautions to safeguard the property, although this standard sometimes varies depending upon who benefits from the bailment.
If both bailor and bailee are found to benefit from the relationship, such as sending a package, then the bailee is held to a standard of ordinary, or reasonable, care. (mutual-benefit bailment)
If the bailment is to the primary benefit of the bailor, such as finding a lost wallet, the bailee must be found grossly negligent to be liable for damage done to the bailment.
If the bailee primarily benefits, such as if you borrow your neighbor's rake to clean your lawn, the bailee must exercise highest care, i.e. is liable for any damages arising from slight negligence.
Normal care
Some jurisdictions have held bailees to a standard of normal care regardless of who benefits in the bailor/bailee relationship.
Involuntary bailees
An exception to all the above is the case of an involuntary bailee, one who by not intentional acts is made a bailee. For example, if one is given a stock certificate but it turns out to be the wrong certificate (intended for someone else), he is an unintentional bailee, he has made no intentional act to become a bailee. He is therefore entitled to divest himself of the certificate regardless of a duty of care, so long as he does no malicious or intentional harm to another.
Plaintiffs will be able to sue for damages based on the duty of care. Often this will be normal tort damages. Plaintiff may elect also to sue for conversion, either in the replevin or trover, although these are generally considered older, common law damages.

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