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Are NYC parking garages liable for damage to your vehicle?

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Unfortunately, many of our customers at EuroBumperGuard.com are far to familiar with parking garages damaging our cars. The question of who is responsible for the damage to your car is easily answered, but not so easily enforced. Allow us to explain…

Before we get into our explanation…we must remind you, we are not attorneys and none of the advice or tips we provide should in any way be construed as legal advice. If a parking garage has damaged your car, please seek legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

First, when you pull into a parking garage, before the attendant will hand you a claim ticket, he will walk around your entire vehicle denoting on the ticket all the visible damage to your car. Just to make sure you are clear, whether you pull in with a car smashed on every side, or a brand new vehicle right off the dealer’s lot, the attendant will mark the ticket to show your car has door, fender, trunk and bumper damage everywhere (a nice little gimmick to try and protect themselves) whether or not it is actually there.

Next, the attendant will hand you a claim ticket, your portion of which does not show any of the damage he marked down. On either the parking garage ticket, a big obnoxious sign on the wall of the garage or both, you will read a very detailed disclaimer, like the one pictured below.

This disclaimer will, in a lot of very complicated important sounding words, basically state that the garage is in no way responsible for any damage done to your car while it is in the garage, whether or not the damage is caused by the garage or it’s employees. To sum it up, you are parking at your own risk no matter what!

Now, after a nice evening, perhaps having seen a Broadway show or dinner with friends, you will return to the parking garage that so eagerly took your car, only to find a giant dent or scratch on your bumper. The garage attendant will most definitely look at you and say, “that was already there, we didn’t do that.” At this time he will take out the part of your claim ticket that shows all of the “damage” on your car at the time you entered the parking garage. Some people leave it at that, huff and puff and accept the fact that the garage damaged their car and there is nothing they can do about it…but others will take it one step further and ask to speak with the manager about the bumper damage the parking garage caused.

The manager will come out, again point out the damaged noted on your ticket at the time your vehicle entered the garage, and then point to the giant disclaimer sign or show you the back of your claim ticket, which states the garage is not responsible. At this point you are probably angry and frustrated, feeling like the parking garage damaged your car and is now laughing at you about it and most people just give up.

However, for those of you that want to push on…the answer to the oh-so important question of “Is the parking garage liable for damaging my car?” is YES. In most states, including New York, the courts have held that the broad parking garage waivers of liability are void in the interest of preventing gross injustices against public policy. In a simplification of some major technical terms, the courts deem parking garages to be professional bailers, one whose fundamental purpose is to take temporary possession of and car for other people’s cars. And the courts have made it clear that these parking garages cannot waive their duties and absolve themselves of liability for performing their fundamental purpose in a way that causes damage to vehicles. In these states, these waivers or disclaimers have no legal effect.

That said, the journey to actually collecting a dime from any of the parking garages is a long one, which in the end may cost you more than it would have to just repair the car yourself. Worst of all, a simple and minor investment into some bumper protection products could have saved you a lot of time, money and aggravation.

Even though you may legally be “in the right” doing anything about it can be a whole different story. Do yourself a favor, protect your bumper with some of our indoor bumper protection products before you ever consider parking in a NYC parking garage.