Ask LH: What’s My Recourse When My Car Is Damaged At A Shopping Centre?

Ask LH: What’s My Recourse When My Car Is Damaged At A Shopping Centre?
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Hey Lifehacker, Today my mother in law’s car was vandalised while she had parked it in the car park of the shopping centre where she works. I’m wondering whether the centre management has any responsibility to cover the cost of the damage?

There are signs in the car park that say that the centre is not responsible for any vehicle damage, but the interesting twist here is that as an employee the management dictate which area of the car park she is allowed to park in. This means that she has to park further away from the centre where there is less traffic, no security or customers passing frequently and hidden away from view from any major roads. Does she have a legitimate claim against the centre management since, without their employee parking policy, her car would have been parked in a safer area within the same car park? Thanks, Vandal Scandal

Car vandalism picture from

Dear VS,

We’re not lawyers, but if the designated area is still a legal car park, we doubt the company can be held liable for any damages. By that rationale, somebody could also sue their council for being forced to park away from time-restricted areas. Likewise, cars are at a much higher risk of being vandalism at night: but that doesn’t necessarily mean that employers are held accountable for the vehicles of shift workers.

Funnily enough, my car was vandalised just last week outside Glenbrook train station (some joker let the air out of all my tires). If I hadn’t gone to work that day, the vandalism would not have occurred. Does that mean my employer should have to pay for the damages? [Nope! — Ed.]

Sorry, but sometimes as a driver you just have to suck it up. If the area has a lot of car crime, there’s always public transport.

See also: Ask LH: Can I Get Booked For Bad Driving In A Shopping Centre?


  • Sorry to hear about the car getting banged up by some degenerate moron, the exact same thing happened to me not long ago.
    I was working at Woolworths and my car got trashed in the shopping center car park and both center management and woolworths said that it was my own problem and that i have to deal with it myself and they want nothing to do with it. i went and got legal advice and they said without photographic evidence im the one in the wrong and have to pay all damages… $3400 later (and a long 30km walk home cause car was undrivable)

  • Hopefully the damage can be fixed either cheaply or under her insurance policy. I’m really sorry to hear about this but this is why people pay comprehensive car insurance.

  • Awww did you start it with “we are not lawyers” just for me? Chris Jager, you big ol sweetheart you ^_^

    Awesome stock photo by the way 😀

  • Full comprehensive is about $5000 for me.

    there are a certain type of people that get jealous at the type of car you drive and think that it’s their right to vandalise it. I wish parking like the one mentioned above had more security hate having to worry about my car whilst i’m shopping not to mention idiots that hit their door onto your car and think “ah whoopsie that’s okay, just a car”

    I remember one time i watched in horror from the inside of a woolworths store as a guy had fully scratched up my car while reversing out (he turned way to early while reversing and kept going slowly, scratching my car all the way out), the expression on his face was that he did no care or had no idea that he was doing it.

    Fuck these people.

    • Yup, jerks the lot of them. I had someone open their door into my car while I was there putting the groceries into the boot. They then proceeded to give me attitude as I inspected the area for scratches and dents.
      Had someone else drive into the back of my car (slowly but none-the-less), put my bumper out by a couple of centimeters. As I explained that the bumper was slightly out, the guy tells me it’s fine while kicking my bumper repeatedly to show it’s still sturdy. Proceeded to yell at him to never touch my car again or I’ll call the cops, while he questions me as to why kicking my car is wrong!

      • Its times like this you wish you were built like a brick shithouse and could just deck these morons.

  • I once came back to my car with about a foot gap to get in to the car,
    it was small enough I needed to go sideways to get to the door and had to climb over part of the door to get in,
    and my car at the time was a 2 door sports car with MASSIVE doors really thick things so i opened the door and bam into the other car, (the car has rubbers on the doors so not bad)

    Then the jerk that parked the van next to mine yells at me for banging my door on his car.
    I remember my words exactly;
    “your the F**k-wit that park your car with no room for me to get in, there’s no damage to your crap-mobile of a van so why don’t you jump up your own ass and die” (I then put it in gear and drove off)

    Harsh, yes… was I a jerk…. mmm maybe (well ok). but park with crap all room for the car next to you and what do you think is going to happen?

    (ok it an 84 Celica but i had to pay extra on insurance, and was a bitch to get into so that makes it a sports car, even though the engine was the same in the Corona)

  • They advertise the damage waiver at the entrance so that you can opt out of parking there before the damage takes place.
    That’s how they have a get out of jail free card.

  • This attitude annoys the hell out of me. Why on earth is it the shopping centre’s fault that some degenerate hit your car?
    Makes about as much as sense as blaming the state government if someone rear-ends you on a state road, or the council if someone hit your parked car on the side of a street.

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