Am I responsible for the small dent on another’s car which was cased by canopy that I own?

UPDATED: Aug 14, 2011

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Am I responsible for the small dent on another’s car which was cased by canopy that I own?

I’ve been on the beach and opened the canopy for shade. Then gusty wind carried it away and the canopy partially landed on someone’s car. The incident caused a small dent on the roof of the car. An owner took my personal information and testimony from a witness. Even sheriff said that it was a nature caused incident. I would like to know if I am financially responsible for what happened even if I was not physically present at that time?

Asked on August 14, 2011 California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The obligation or responsibility to pay--legal liability--depends on fault. If  an act was not intentional or willful (e.g. vandalism), then fault depends on negligence, or unreasonable carelessness. Thus, the question of whether you are responsible or not will depend on whether you were careless in some fashion. For example, was it such a windy day that opening up a canopy at all was careless? Or did you not open up and set it up properly, so that the reason the wind carried it away was that it was not anchored down correctly? If you left it unattended, was it reasonable to do so, given the prevailing conditions? Etc. So there is no easy answer: if you were somehow negligent or careless, you could be at fault and liable; and if you were negligent or careless, you would not be. It depends on the circumstances.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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