If a resident from a care facility stole my car and it was damaged after a high speed chase, can they and/or the facility be reliable for damages?

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If a resident from a care facility stole my car and it was damaged after a high speed chase, can they and/or the facility be reliable for damages?

Asked on May 13, 2012 under Accident Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Criminal charges can be brought against the resident for auto theft.

As for a separate civil case, you could file a lawsuit naming the care facility and the resident as defendants.  Your lawsuit would have separate causes of action (claims) for negligence and conversion.  The care facility would be liable for negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care in this case that a reasonable care facility would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm). 

In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove duty (of due care mentioned above), breach of duty (failure to exercise due care by inadequately supervising the residents to prevent them from leaving), actual cause, proximate cause and damages.

Actual cause means but for the care facility not adequately supervising the residents, would your car have been stolen?  If the answer is no, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable, intervening acts which would relieve the care facility of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.  Damages means the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit.  Your damages would be the cost of repairs to your car.

The other cause of action (claim) in your lawsuit would be conversion which would be your claim against the resident of the care facility.  Conversion is theft.  Conversion is the intentional assumption of dominion and control over the personal property of another resulting in a substantial interference with your possessory rights without consent and without legal privilege.  In other words, the theft of your car was a substantial interference with your ownership of the car,  The substantial damaging or misuse of the car is conversion.  Your damages (the amount of monetary compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit for conversion) would be the full value of the car.


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