Is my company liable for damages caused to someone else’s car while I was working?

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Is my company liable for damages caused to someone else’s car while I was working?

I was working in the parking lot at my job and was attempting to open a large sliding gate. I didn’t hear the car in front of me open her door and the gate dinged the side of her door. I gave her my information but don’t know what to do. She called and told me the estimate was $700. Is she partly at fault for opening her door? Is my company responsible because I was doing my job?

Asked on February 11, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The problem is that both you and your company are potentially liable: the driver could elect to sue either or both of your. You may be liable because you are the one who actually slide open the gate; the company could be liable because you are their employee who caused the damage while doing your job. You can check if your company will willing indemnify, or pay for, you; but the car owner does have the option of suing either of you. (Note: you don't need to pay anything until and unless actually sued by someone--and they win or you choose to settle.)

As for whether she could be partly at fault, which could offset or reduce what she might be able to collect--yes, if she was being careless she could be at fault. It depends on the exact circumstances, but is an argument you would make in a trial.


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