Imagine coming back from dinner to your car wrecked. Imagine hearing your valet admit (as one did to CBS) that he and his friends went for joy rides in other people's cars almost every night. While most valets may be honest and respectable, and you are unlikely to face such a gross example of misconduct, what do you do if a valet does damage your car?
One minute, you are handing over your keys to the valet...the next, you are picking up your car with an extra dent! In a city like Nashville or Bowling Green where some venues have a valet parking option, accidents can happen. It might be a small scuff or major damage. The question becomes who is liable for damaging your car, how do you prove it, and what are your rights if this happens?
What If a Valet Wrecks My Car?
When you hand your keys over to a valet, you are trusting that they will take care of your car while in their possession. Once the valet pulls up, take a quick minute to look your car over. Look inside as well to make sure nothing is missing from inside.
If you notice any damage that was not there before, be sure to take these next steps:
- Get the valet driver’s name.
- Get the name of the valet company and write down their information as well.
- Snap a few pictures right away. A picture in front of the business where the damage occurred will help to prove your case.
- If the damage is serious enough, you may want to even file a police report.
If the driver will not give you their name or information about the company, speak to the manager of the business, and they will be able to give you what you need. Remember to be confident but polite and reasonable.
Depending on your situation, you may want to hire a lawyer. Bart Durham Injury Law has offices in Nashville, Tennessee and Bowling Green, Kentucky. With over 75 years of experience, we can help you.
What Do You Do Next, and Who Is Liable?
Contact your own insurance company within a day of when the damage occurred and explain what happened. Your insurance company will contact the valet company or business and determine who is responsible for paying for the damage to your car. Understandably, the valet company might be defensive and put up a fight. But the insurance company will work with the valet to determine fault.
Generally, whoever was driving your car at the time will be held liable. For example, if it is determined that the valet driver was driving and they caused the damage, the valet company’s insurance will likely pay for the damage.
As Chris Hackett, a spokesman for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America said, "Ultimately, if the car owner were to turn over his keys and while under the care, custody and control of the valet … his car was damaged, then the valet company would be responsible."
The National Parking Association requires its members to carry at least $1 million of legal liability coverage and $5 million of general liability coverage to cover injury to people or damage to property the valet doesn’t own. Likewise, the Nashville government requires valet services to have a $1 million liability insurance policy at least. But if fault cannot be determined or it was another patron that caused the damage while in the valet’s possession, it will likely be your own insurance that covers the damage.
Whoever is responsible for the damage, car repairs are not a pleasant process. If a valet has damaged your car and you need a car accident attorney to represent you for a case, call Bart Durham Injury Law. Since 1975, we've been fighting for the rights of victims like you, ensuring they get the compensation they deserve. Our experienced attorneys will guide you through the complicated legal process, ensuring justice is done.