Motor

Claim case sharing

Is a car park operator liable for the theft of vehicles in its car parks?

Private motor car ownership in Hong Kong is very common. Today, car parks are an essential part of car ownership irrespective of whether the vehicles are used for travel to and from work or for leisure purposes as owners need somewhere to leave their cars when they are not in use. In the unfortunate event that a vehicle is stolen from a car park, is the car park operator liable for the car owner’s loss?

Generally speaking, car owners have to take responsibility for looking after their own vehicles and property at all times. Most car parks display their regulations at the entrance to the car park to ensure that they are exempt from liability for any loss, damage or injury suffered by any person or caused to any property within their car park. But, by displaying their regulations, do car park operators really exempt themselves from these liabilities? Based on a number of well-documented legal precedents, Courts will take the following factors into consideration before reaching their decision:

  1. Do the regulations stand the test of reasonableness?
  2. Have any similar car thefts occurred in the operator’s car park(s) in the past?
  3. Do the car park operators have any security measures in place to prevent car theft?
  4. Has the car owner taken reasonable care to safeguard his/her vehicle?

As there are often many areas of potential disagreement in these situations, car owners’ claims against car park operators may need to be settled in Court. Customers are therefore advised to take out comprehensive private motor vehicle insurance to provide cover for third party property damage and bodily injury as well as loss of or damage to their own vehicle.

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