Can you be held liable for damages caused accidentally?

I slipped in a dentist’s parking lot and broke the receptionist’s taillight. It was raining and windy. Am I liable for damages? I was also injured.

Asked on December 16, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It depends. The question is, where you personally negligent, or unreasonably careless, in some way? E.g running in a parking lot, especially in the wind? Texting on your phone while walking? If you were careless, it is possible you might be liable, but if you did nothing wrong and this was just one of those accidents that sometimes occur, then no.

If the dentist office was  negligent in some way, btw, they may be responsible for your injury. For example, if the lot was not well lit and it night, and you tripped in part because you couldn't see where you were going, that might make them liable. If they did nothing wrong, then again, there's no fault without liability.

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