What to do if a shopping cart you used hit another car?

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What to do if a shopping cart you used hit another car?

I was in a home improvement chain store and bought several items, including a large generator. I pushed my shopping cart out of the store; it was the first parking space on the left. I parked the cart on the side of my car. The cart was stable and I started to unload it. I have a therapy dog (he is very small) and took him from his purse and put him in the car, along with a couple of bags. I then walked to the back of the car to rearrange things so that I had room to load the generator. After unloading it I looked up and a man was waving his arms to me; he was wheeling the cart I used (it still had a few of my things on it). The car that the cart apparently hit had been parked about 15 spaces down. The owner then insisted that she needed my car insurance information. However I refused because I couldn’t understand why my car would be involved in this. So she called the police, which I agreed to. They took information. Anyway, my insurer refused to pay calling it an “Act of God” having nothing to do with my car. She is now threatening small claims court. I do not feel responsible; I had nothing to do with the cart running down the lane. It was stable when I left it. I told her that I would have had to ram her car with my hands on the cart in order to deliberately and knowingly hit the car and damage it. I believe the young lady wanted me to say I would pay her $700 so she wouldn’t take me to small court.

Asked on February 24, 2011 under Accident Law, Vermont

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First, you should understand that you probably *are* liable or responsible. It was your cart--still under your control, as evidenced by the fact that it had your items in it and you were still unloading. Over, there is a good chance that you would be considered to have been negligent, or careless, since (1) the cart evidently was *not* stable, or else it would have have rolled; and (2) you took your attention off the car to deal with your dog and rearrange items in your car. The combination of an item under your control and negligence would give rise to liability.

Second, your car insurer would seem to not be liable, since it was not your car or your driving causing the damage.

Third, you do not have to accept the claim of the amount of damage at face value; you ask it to be substantiated, and if you don't choose to pay (or settle) out of court, you can force it to be  proven in court.


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