Is a pawn shop liable for my property while it’s in their care?

UPDATED: Jun 9, 2011

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Is a pawn shop liable for my property while it’s in their care?

I pawned my $2359 lawn tractor and instead of it being inside the building they locked it to a boat trailer outside. I was extremely uncomfortable with this but have bills to pay and had no other choice. When I called and told them I would feel much better if it was inside she informed me there was no place for it and they can’t be held liable if its stolen. I was never told me that initially and they did not give that to me in writing.

Asked on June 9, 2011 under Business Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

They shop would be liable for the theft (or destruction, damage, loss, etc.) of your property while in its care, unless and only to the extent that they disclosed, prior to the transaction, that they would not be liable and you agreed  to such a limitation of liability, either explicitly in writing, or at least implicitly, by demonstrably pawning the item and leaving it in their care after being put on notice that they were declining responsibility. You should check the paperwork you received from the pawnshop, any notices, etc. to see what limitations, if any apply to this situation. The important thing is what was disclosed up front; they can't change terms after the fact.

Note that you could not, however, complain of or be compensated for damage done by the tractor simply being out in the elements--you accepted that risk when you allowed them lock it up outside, rather than at that point walking away from the transaction.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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