Is a store responsible for damages to my car from a hit and run at night time if the lighting in the lot was poor?

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Is a store responsible for damages to my car from a hit and run at night time if the lighting in the lot was poor?

My car was parked in the lot and another automobile hit my car while backing out of their parking spot. Surveillance only covered half of the lot, capturing the accident but not enough to get an entire shot of the car or license plate. I noticed that 1 of 3 flood lights was out at the time of the accident which happened to be positioned over the parking spot the other car back out of.

Asked on June 7, 2012 under Accident Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

They would mst likely not be liable, since there are two major hurdles to imposing liability on the store:

1) Causality: you'd have to be able to show that if the light had been there, the accident would not have happened. That means you'd have to show that even given any other lights in the  lot, the back-up lights on the car that hit you, etc., there was effectively no way for the other driver to see your car or how far they had to back up because this one light was out--which is unlikely. Since you can't find the other car/driver, you can't get any information or testimony from him or her about visibility, or also about his/her state of mind and physical state, which are also factors (for example, if he or she was distracted, drunk, texting or on cell phone, etc.,  then the fault is the other driver's, not the store's).

2) Negligence--you'd also have to show that the store knew or at least should have known that the light was out; that under the circumstances, it was unreasonably dangereous to have the light be out; and that the store had had long enough, from when they firstr discoverd the light was out, to have replaced or changed it but still failed to do so. In short, even if there was causality, you'd have to also show fault, or that the store did something wrong.

For there to be liabilty in a case like this, there must be both causation and negligence.


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