Nothing can spoil your day more than leaving your car in a parking lot and coming back to slashed tires, keyed doors, or broken windows. Once you assess the damage, the question is, who’s responsible?
When you leave your car in an attended parking lot, or drop it off with a valet, you are transferring possession — not ownership — of your property for a limited period of time. If you park in an enclosed lot, an attendant or valet takes your car, or you’re issued a ticket to claim your car, you’ve transferred possession. The lot is liable for any damage to your property.
If you just park your car in a lot and keep the keys with you, the owners aren’t liable, unless you can prove negligence that caused the loss or damage. The owners may post one of our company not responsible signs as a reminder to customers to protect their belongings.
Lot owners can usually avoid liability with a disclaimer printed on the parking stub or posted on a sign. The lot cannot disclaim anything if they exhibit negligence, especially if an employee on duty damages your car.
Consequences for these situations vary based on your state. For lot owners, offer a reminder to guests who park in your lot to always remember to lock their cars. Public parking works when people respect everyone else’s property and belongings. But, all drivers should take additional steps to protect themselves, and put their valuables away, just in case.