Is A Parking Garage Really Not Liable If My Car Gets Damaged Or Stolen?

September 25, 2015

How legitimate are those “management is not responsible for lost or stolen goods” signs? Do they themselves release the management from responsibility, or are they simply informing people of a legally established lack of responsibility? Basically, what are the laws regarding when an institution must or may not claim responsibility for a customer’s possessions? I saw such a reminder on my valet ticket at a hotel recently, and I very much disagree with it: A valet should certainly be held responsible for the state of my car when I entrust it to them, right?

Welcome to law, where everything is more complicated than you might expect. Let’s take this in layers, like an onion, or your aunt’s multi-layer mystery dip that starts looking kind of tasty after a few beers.

Layer 1: Words

We’re going to needs some very special new words: chattels and bailment.

A chattel is a piece of personal property—any tangible thing that is not real estate. A bailment is a special temporary relationship created when you transfer possession of a chattel to another person, like a car with a valet.

Read the rest of the column here at Deadspin.

Illustration by Sam Woolley.

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