My car was parked in the shul Parking lot. Space is tight – and I parked in a spot that is technically illegal, but as a matter of pracitcality it is always used. Additionally I parked in such a way that I made it a bit difficult for somebody to pass by – there was sufficient room, but not ample room
Sure enough somebody damaged (slightly cracked and scraped) my rear bumber. I brought it to the body shop and was told for $300 they can paint the bumper and fix the crack. For $500 the can replace the bumper with a brand new one. He added that if I fix the crack, it will be a weak bumper My choice – even if I would have been totally responsible – would have been to replace the bumper. What was the Mazik responsible for.
P.S. This happened several months ago, and we settled amicably at $300.00 The purpose of this letter is strictly to use the incident as a learning opportunity, therefore I am more interested in your explanation than anything else
This is a difficult case to settle, and it is well that it was settled amicable out of court.
The basic issue is that adam mu’ad le-olam, and car damages fall under the category of adam because of the control over them that the driver wields (a responsum of the Rosh states that a person riding a horse is considered adam ha-mazik). This indicates that the person who hit you will be liable for damages.
However, if somebody blocks up a path in the public domain with his property, somebody who damages the relevant property is not liable (see Bava Kama 27b; Choshen Mishpat 412).
In this case, the public domain was not quite blocked up, but your parking did make it difficult to pass through, and therefore to dome degree you did bring the damage upon yourself (not anyone can be a “great driver” and able to pass through narrow gaps).
Because of the tension between the two principles, the compromise solution is certainly best.