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"We Are Not Responsible For Lost Or Stolen Valuables." Really?
April 1, 2009 11:25 AM   Subscribe

Do signs that say "We Are Not Responsible for Lost or Stolen Valuables" actually provide any legal protection?

These signs are all over the place, and sometimes they seem to be demonstrably false, e.g. if I valet park my car isn't it assumed that the valet is responsible for the security of my car and all the valuables inside of it?

Do these disclaimer signs really give restaurants/bars/parking lots etc. any amount of legal protection? My feeling is that they don't, and that they're simply more of a reminder in the vein of "Hey, watch your stuff!" but maybe I'm wrong.

I am in the United States but curious about other countries as well.
posted by hamsterdam to Law & Government (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
The legal concept is called Bailment, and the wiki article is a good place to start learning. Short answer, yes those signs do provide a measure of protection for the storage location owner, but actual allowed limitations vary by jurisdiction.
posted by nomisxid at 11:40 AM on April 1, 2009


Legal Lad covered this very issue awhile back. It varies depending on the state you are in as well as the circumstances of the incident.
posted by mmascolino at 11:44 AM on April 1, 2009


Five years ago, my van was robbed in the "secure" parking garage of a hotel. As far as I know, the signs gave them complete and total legal protection, even though what the hotel promised (a guarded garage) wasn't provided (there was no guard that night). My insurance company covered my loss and damage and I don't think they were successful in getting the hotel to reimburse them. We got a form letter apology and a $10 coupon for our next stay.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 1:17 PM on April 1, 2009


Thanks -- I googled and googled but couldn't find anything because I didn't know the term.
posted by hamsterdam at 3:56 PM on April 1, 2009


I think that these signs might at least make sure that the owner of the premises is not accused of setting the customer's expectation's too high -- e.g. a coat check is not the same as a guarded safe (what can level of security be reasonable expected from a coat check, however, is another question).
posted by winston at 6:58 PM on April 1, 2009


For the coat check -- you're paying them to keep your coat. If you leave diamonds in your coat pocket and they're stolen, they might have a better time denying responsibility. But if someone steals your coat, they're responsible. I mean, you're paying them for the service of watching/keeping/guarding your stuff. Especially if they're negligent, like the guard-less hotel garage. It might not have been monetarily worth the trouble for the insurance company to pursue it hard. Someone putting a sign up doesn't equal you signing an agreement, and there are even still restrictions on what rights a person can sign away. Since bailment is common law, I really think it's up for argument in court.
posted by thebazilist at 9:09 PM on April 1, 2009


I think you could make a pretty good case against a garage advertised as "secure" even if they had a sign with disclaimers.
posted by electroboy at 7:54 AM on April 2, 2009


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