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Valet parking theft
by Steven Riddell
A couple of days ago, I parked my car in a casino underground car park, and the valet took my car from me and parked it up. I came down from the casino a few hours later and asked for my car. The attendants walked around scratching the heads and eventually called security.
After looking at the CCTV film they saw that my car was stolen from the carpark by a hooded thief who crashed out through the barrier. None of the attendants had seen this and they also told me that it was policy to leave the keys in the vehicles and the windows down. I have spoken to the casino management, who tell me that they are not admitting liability, due to a sign they have up which says they accept no responsibility for loss or damage to any vehicle. The car was only a few months old and cost over £50,000. They also said if I go down the legal route, they will stop talking to me about the situation, and leave it all up to their solicitors, which will end up costing me more than the cars worth in legal fees. Can anyone please advise me where I stand legally.
Steve, it appears that you are not in the U.S. Other laws might apply to you so this information might be incorrect. Some legal principles transcend and might or might not apply.
In America, parking lots disclaim liability all the time. Usually, they are effective, however, when you have a valet involve, you have the law of “bailments.” You have an expectation that your vehicle will be were YOU left it. The parking lot negligence (leaving windows open with car keys in it) is not excused by the sign. The sign does not give them a broad license to put your car at risk.
It is possible that you do have to use insurance and solicitors, but what else do you do? Your own insurance company (if you are fully covered) will do an investigation and go after the responsible party (the parking lot, if they are indeed responsible).
I hope this points you in the right direction,
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