Legal Question in Business Law in California

Vehicle Damage While Parked In Hotel Valet

My vehicle was parked in a valet parking area in a Hollywood, CA hotel. I was inside the hotel, and when i came out about 5 hours later, the valet person informed me someone had hit my car, but that person driving said she was to drunk and didn't want the police involved, so only thing that was done, by the employee was a copy of Drivers License and let her go. Is the hotel going to be responisble for the damage of my car, it is not major but very very noticeable. I feel the hotel showed poor judgement in letting the girl take off with out getting more information. The hotel refuses to help in this manner stating, their people where not driving any of the vehicles involved, but it did happen on their property and saw the whole thing happen, and didnt get the proper information from the driver. Any assistance in this matter would be greatly appreciated or at least point me in the right direction, thank you.

Asked on 5/31/05, 7:38 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

David Lupoff Law Offices of David B. Lupoff

Re: Vehicle Damage While Parked In Hotel Valet

Since you have a copy of her drivers license, it would be a good idea to go to the police station and file charges for hit and run. This should help you create a mechanism for you to get her to pay for your damage. Penal Code, Section 1377 and 1378 allows for a civil remedy in a criminal hit and run matter.

Good Luck,

David B. Lupoff, Esq.


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Answered on 5/31/05, 8:06 pm
Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Re: Vehicle Damage While Parked In Hotel Valet

You should make a claim with your own auto insurance and let them deal with it. They may sue the other driver to recover any money they pay you (plus enough to cover your deductible) or they may decide not to -- especially if she is uninsured and seems unable to pay a judgment and/or if the damage was minor.

I don't see any basis for holding the hotel liable. The owner of a parking lot or garage is not an insurer for those who use it and is generally not responsible for damage caused by third parties. The owner does have to exercise some care, but I don't see how it violated this duty. After all, short of closing the gates and allowing no one else to enter, what could it have done to prevent this accident?

The only other potential issue I see is the hotel's "failure" to obtain more information from the driver. I use quotation marks here because the hotel can't "fail" to do something it has no duty to do, and it had no duty to act as your representative after an accident or to collect information for you from an unwilling driver. It proably was not even required to get her license number, so you should be glad it did that much.

Another problem is that your car would have been damaged even if the hotel *had* obtained more information from the driver. So even if it was negligent in failing to get more information (which I very much doubt) its negligence would not have changed what happened to the car.

Nor did the hotel's actions prevent you from getting reimbursed by the other driver. You know who she is and where she lives, so you can contact her and, if necessary, sue her for the damage she caused. At most you lack only her insurance information, but you can get that easily after filing suit if it comes to that.

As I said at the beginning, though, you should just turn this over to your insurer and let them deal with her.

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Answered on 5/31/05, 8:39 pm

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