In 2005, an individual 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, striking several passersby.

Some of the injured filed suit against the repair shop, accusing it of negligence because it had left the keys in the ignition which allowed access to anyone, especially significant in an area of Los Angeles notorious for high vehicle theft.

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.

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.

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 may be entitled to compensation and damages.