If a contractor left his back pack in my garage after he was finished for the day and I accidentally an over it, am I responsible for replacing a camera that was inside?

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If a contractor left his back pack in my garage after he was finished for the day and I accidentally an over it, am I responsible for replacing a camera that was inside?

After he left my place, unbeknownst to me, he was still at my neighbor’s place (I live in a unit condo), as they have started dating. I live in a city and the garage is a very tight space. I have to back in and do a sharp S-turn in order to squeeze into my space. There are only a few inches of room for error. As a result, there is a large blind spot on the driver’s side of my car, where the back pack was lying on the ground against a wall. When I came home at 7 pm (a time I was not expecting his things to be in my way), I ran over his back pack because it was in my blind spot. As a result, his camera was damaged, and he is asking me to pay for it. Am I liable?

Asked on September 22, 2014 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Most likely, you and he should split the cost. You would be considered to have been liable due to negligence, or unreasonable carelessness, in running over an item (the bag) in your driveway; running over a stationary object in your path is generally negligent. However, your negligence is offset or reduced, under the doctrine of comparative negligence, by his negligence, or carelessness, in leaving the bag someplace he should not have left it. While it's impossible to say with certainty what a court would do if it came before the court, one likely outcome would be to balance the faults so that you each pay part of the cost.


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