If a customer asks me to tie a Christmas tree on his car and it damages the car, am I responsible?

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If a customer asks me to tie a Christmas tree on his car and it damages the car, am I responsible?

A customer asked me to tie his tree on to his car. I told him we would as we always do. As we were, he told us to immediately stop and we did. Whose at fault? The police said that we were.

Asked on December 3, 2017 under Accident Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You were at fault if you were in any way careless or negligent in how you tied it on, and that caused the damage. You are not liable simply for following his instructions to tie the tree to the car *unless* you knew that tying the tree to the car would scratch or damage it but failed to warn him, since that failure to warn him of known consequences itself would be negligent or careless and make you liable. If normally there would not be damage (so no reason to warn him) and you did everything reasonably carefully, you would not be liable for an unexpected or unpredictable damage. The question which determines liability is whether you were careful, in what you told him and what you did, or not.


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