Is a business owner liable for damages to a vehicle while in their possession?
I was having tires replaced at a local business. I left my vehicle in a parking spot in their lot and provided my keys and contact information to the business. Before the repairs were completed, a person backed into my vehicle. The owner called the police, but because no one was injured and it was not a hit and run, they did not come out to the site. The owner of the vehicle that hit my car left his telephone number.
The issue is, he is now not responding to my calls and I have been unable to get his insurance information. Also, I only have liability coverage on my vehicle because it is worth no more than $4,000. Does the business owner have some liability, given the car was in their possession at the time of the accident? How can I pursue this claim? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Is a business owner liable for damages to a vehicle while in their possession?":
It is unlikely the business owner has any liability because an employee didn't strike your car, nor did an employee place your car in an unsafe area. You are the person who parked the car in a parking space designated for customers of the business. The liability lies with the driver who struck you.
If the driver persists in ignoring you, you can consider filing a lawsuit against him or her in one of Tennessee’s small claims courts. Before doing so, contact the driver and let him or her know you would rather settle the matter amicably and without the need for litigation.
Also tell the driver that if you have to litigate the matter, you may ask for not only the amount of money it will take to repair your car, but for additional monies to cover your lost wages (if you have to miss work to litigate the case), and for any other expenses related to your pursuit of compensation for your losses.
Before contacting the driver, get at least three estimates for the repair of your car. The driver will need copies to have a basis upon which to compensate you. Moreover, you will need the estimates if you have to go ahead with the small claims lawsuit. The judge will have to see them.
Tennessee Small Claims Courts have jurisdiction over cases involving amounts up to $15,000. Considering the age of your car and the amount required to repair it, $15,000 should be more than enough.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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