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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.


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