If someone backed into a plastic box that I left out in her driveway, am I now liable to pay for the minor damage to her car?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If someone backed into a plastic box that I left out in her driveway, am I now liable to pay for the minor damage to her car?

I just moved out of an increasingly tense situation with a landlord/roommate. I was loading the car to move out. She wasn’t home and therefore her car was not in the driveway while I was doing this. I placed a box, a plastic milk crate, on the side of the driveway. She came home and parked next to it. Later that day, she went to leave again and when backing up bumped into the crate. It left a small scratch on the plastic guard around tire. The crate and stuff in it was not damaged at all nor would I care if it was, however she’s demanding that I pay for whatever it costs to repair her car I’m guessing it’s going to require buffing the scratch. Is this fair? She’s claiming it was in her path, but if she was able to park initially it obviously wasn’t. The object was stationary; it was there before she parked and before she started backing out again. It seems to me any fault would be hers. Am I overlooking a detail here that would make me financially responsible for any repairs she has done to the car?

Asked on June 22, 2016 under Accident Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes, the detail you are overlooking is that you left a plastic milk crate--something that does not belong in a driveway or any place that cars or driven--in the driveway, and evidently did so for so several hours (i.e. you failed to move it after you'd had a more-than-ample time or opportunity to move it). Leaving an obstruction in a driveway for a long time is negligent or careless, and so could certainly make you liable, or financially responsible, for the damage your box caused.

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