What can I do regarding a shopping cart that hit a car in parking lot?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What can I do regarding a shopping cart that hit a car in parking lot?

During a busy holiday season, I had returned my shopping cart to the corral. A number of other people were returning carts from all directions. As I was walking away, I saw a cart rolling toward a car in traffic. In the spirit of being a Good Samaritan, I tried to grab it. It brushed up against a car in the road leaving a minor white mark from the cart bumper. The driver was very hostile and I mistakenly gave her my phone number. As my cart had been placed in the corral, there is no evidence this was my cart or due to my negligence. She is now asking for in excess of $1500 to have the side of her car repainted. She has stated that she will take me to small claims court if I don’t provide a check in full. What is your


Asked on January 10, 2017 under Accident Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If she does sue you, based on what you write, there is a reasonable chance she will win: if you were in contact with the cart when it hit her car, then a court could find that you negligently, or carelessly, contributed to any damage. However, the queston then becomes, how much could she win? She can only win the actual repair or repainting costs. You also only have to pay for the actual damage--not to repair or repaint other parts of her car, just because she'd like to freshen it up or clean up other scratches while at it. While not a car expert, $1,500 seems too high too hight to me--I had a bumper and attached body piece which were badly cracked replaced and repainted for less than that on a 2014 Sentra--so she may be demanding on unreasonable amount. Tell her to send you actual repair invoices or at least estimates detailing the cost to (if necessary) buff and touch up the scratch--not to repaint the whole side. If she does and they are reasonable (and you may wish to independently call some body shops, to get quotes for similar work, to double check), you should probably pay rather than be sued. If unreasonably or you think they are padding the bill for her, or if she won't even provide them, then let her sue you and try to prove in court that you did the damage and the cost to repair.

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