What are my rights if my car was struck by a shopping cart at a grocery store?

UPDATED: Jan 13, 2014

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What are my rights if my car was struck by a shopping cart at a grocery store?

I was in the store shopping and my son was in the car and witnessed the basket hit the car. It left a large dent on the side of my car. The manager told me to get 2-3 estimates and got my information. The legal department for the store contacted me and said that it was not responsible unless an employee allowed the basket to get away from them. It refused to pay for the over $500 worth of damage. Should it not be held liable for neglecting to put the cart in the proper place?

Asked on January 13, 2014 under Accident Law, Georgia


Brook Miscoski / Hurr Law Office PC

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Before answering your question, let's picture a world where a store owner is liable for damage caused when a shopping cart strikes a parked car.

In this world, there would be no shopping carts, or the store would hold alot more than a mere quarter to encourage you to bring the shopping cart back. The store wouldn't hire extra employees to make sure a car is never struck--because that would be too costly.

We live in a world where we'd like to have shopping carts, and have them cheaply. It's cheaper for a customer to pay $500 every now and then, rather than commit massive social resources and store resources to stopping the damage and paying for it when it happens anyway.

The legal answer to your question is that the store is probably not liable. You have a license to park on their premesis, and they do have to meet certain standards, but that doesn't mean that they have a duty to protect you from every kind of harm. Mostly, they need to not be negligent. If you could show that they were incredibly negligent--maybe an employee was scooting a line of carts at a reckless speed, and the lead cart broke from the line and smashed into your vehicle--then maybe you'd have something.  

On the other hand, most people would rightly conclude that your damage was probably caused by another customer who carelessly let his cart slam into your car. That's who would likely be liable for your damages, if you could find him.


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