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liability for a negligible(?) car damage


Hi Rabbi(s) —

My parents rented a car. My wife was registered as a driver on the car. My wife accidentally reversed into a parking meter.

The damage done was the a red reflector strip on the back of the car mildly cracked and popped out of the area where it normally “fits”. This red strip was not electronic, and so its ability to reflect was not impacted.

We used a simple screw and drill to put the strip back into place. Please see the images contained in the link I attach here. The damage was on the back left of the car. I also include pictures of the back right of the car, for comparison.

The car was returned. The car company said nothing about it. Presumably, the car has since been rented, at which point, an inspection of the car for damage is usually done, and if something was noted, the last user of the car would likely be assumed to be responsible. We have not been contacted.

We chose to return the car because given business practices that persist in some places in Israel and that we are Americans, we were worried of being taken advantage of. The question, however, is our responsibility.

On the one hand, I do not believe that the functionality of the car has been impeded. On the other hand, the back left bumper looks “worse” and might be more likely to pop out again in a future instance. On the other hand, rental cars typically sustain “minor bumps and bruises” and this could be in the category of things that rental car company tacitly live with.

What should we do?


It is a difficult question because on the one hand the car rental prob lost nothing since when they sell their cars-customers take into account that it was rental and all kinds of damages occurred. On the other hand the agreement requires you to pay. However, they take advantage of everyone taking exorbitant amounts. I would think if they didn’t catch it you don’t have to report it because you will just cause them to then deal unfairly with you. It’s a bit like the Chafetz Chaim paskens that one shouldn’t tell loshon hora even when it is to help someone and normally the correct thing to say but if the recipient will make improper use you shouldn’t say.

Furthermore, people don’t really accept the condition-they are forced into it . Therefore it prob isn’t valid according to the halacha since it would be called asmachta. I asked another dayan who also felt like the last point. Therefore, I would say to forget it, and you don’t have to inform the and pay for it.

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