In 2005, a recognized gang member entered a workshop in Los Angeles County which repaired commercial vehicles and stole a tow truck. The keys were left in the ignition so all the thief had to do was start the truck and drive it out of the gate, which incidentally was open at the time. Soon after, he lost control of the vehicle and drove it onto a sidewalk. In the process the vehicle hit several passersby, injuring some and killing a few. Yes, this gang member is a buffoon but that is beside the point. If he was intelligent, he would not be in a gang.

Should have Known Better

Some of the injured filed suit against the repair shop, accusing it of negligence because it left the keys in the ignition which allowed access to anyone, especially significant in a high vehicle theft area also known for gangland activities. But that is vague because all of California has gangs and certainly all of LA.

Personal Responsibility

The repair shop in its defense brought a motion for dismissal of the case in entirety on the plea that it owed no responsibility to the injured individuals, and if it did, it was not guilty of negligence which caused the injuries but the criminal who stole the truck was. The court concurred with the motion and the case was dismissed.

Huge Business Mistake

The injured party went on appeal. The appellate court noted the special circumstances and reversed the decision of the trial court. In its judgment it held that since the truck was parked with the keys in the ignition in an area notorious for vehicle theft, it was an invitation to thieves. Furthermore, because the facility was unlocked and open, the truck could be driven out with impunity and quite simply. Taken in total, the circumstances were such that the defendant owed a duty to third persons by not subjecting them to a risk of this nature. This is a close call but another reason, couple with high taxes and regulations, businesses have chosen to leave California. The gang member should have been given the death penalty but that is another subject.

The business should not have left the keys in the truck, that is true. That is careless. They should have been more watchful and protective in regards to their own property.

A Dedicated Partner

If you have been a victim of injury for reasons which you believe to be of negligence, then consult an injury and accident law firm with experience in car accidents which are negligence related. You could well have a case to sue for compensation and damages.