How do you determine responsibility for an accident?

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How do you determine responsibility for an accident?

I was parked in a lot which had barricades and caution tape connected to them preventing people from parking to far up. The caution tape came loose or broke free and some how got caught on my front bumber unknown to me, so while backing out of the space, the tape pulled over a barricade that it was attached to causing a front end scratch on another vehicle. The owner feels I am responsible for the damage. Am I responsible for the damages as there was no negligence on my part.

Asked on August 28, 2014 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

From what you write, you most likely would not be liable, since liability is based on fault, which typically (in accident cases) is itself based on or derived from negligence. Negligence is *unreasonable* carelessness; your actions would not seem to have been "unreasonably" careless unless it was so obvious that the tape was hooked to your car that any reasonable person would have seen it before driving away. Unless that were the case, you should not be liable; however, that would not stop the owner from filing a lawsuit, forcing you to defend yourself, even though you would, based on what you write, most likely unltimately win. Therefore, you may wish to consider offering to pay something if the other car's owner seems determined to sue, as a cost-effective alternative to defending yourself in court. (Even if you act as your own attorney, you will at a minimum incur a certain time cost as well as having to deal with the stress of litigation, if sued.)


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