"We cannot be held responsible for damages..." Sez who?

At various grocery stores and Shopko-type places around town, there are signs on the cart corrals that say words to the effect of “Please return carts here to help us keep prices low. We cannot be held responsible for damage caused by shopping carts in the parking lot.”

I’m curious as to how this supposedly helps them keep prices low, but much more curious as to whether they can legally disclaim responsibility for damages that happen on their premises. Is this along the lines of how baseball stadiums aren’t held liable for injuries caused by fly balls and the like because of the assumption of risk on the part of the stadium patron?

When a run away cart whacks your car it’s not a store employee who lets it go. It’s another patron. How can the store be reasonably expected to monitor the behavior of everyone in their lot?

They save money by not having to divert employees from other duties to collect the carts. As if that really happens.

Well the funny thing is just because they say it does not mean they are not.

The signs on the back of a fleet of gravel dump trucks around here really irritate me. They say “Not responsible for broken windshields”. Umm, if gravel falls off your truck and breaks my windshield, you certainly ARE responsible. Whether you are liable is for the damn lawyers to squabble over.

In most cases, disclaimers like this have no legal validity. Businesses put them up, hoping that people will see the sign, shrug, and go get the stone chip (or whatever) repaired at their own expense.

In other cases, the disclaimer serves as a notification to the public, so that they can’t sue because the business never told them about the condition, whatever it may be.

The employees still need to collect the carts from the corrals. I would be interested in something that indicates that stores really save money by having corrals and that they pass those savings along to customers in the form of lower prices. One would think that the most important factor in determining the retail price of groceries is the wholesale cost to the grocer.

Well, it takes the employees much less time to collect carts en masse from a corral than if they have to chase them individually all over the lot. And you’d be surprised how much labor and overhead expenses take up in a grocery store’s budget …

The savings comes from the fact that, if the carts are properly returned to the corral, the store is less likely to incur the cost of cart replacement due to their being lost and/or smashed up by cars running into them.

In the absence of state or local laws that modify the general rule, a store is liable for its negligent actions that proximately cause injury to you or your property. That MAY mean damage to your car from runaway carts, assuming the reason the cart is runaway is because of the negligence of the store.

Signs of this nature are posted in an attempt to make you believe that you have no remedy against the property owner. Similar signs disclaim liability for anything that happens to your car in a parking lot. The signs are relatively meaningless. I suppose some bright bunny might assert that, having seen the sign, there is an assumption of the risk on the part of the car owner, but I’d think there would have to be some disclosure of the risk of damage for that to have much validity. However, if you believe the sign, and you drive away without reporting the damage, you are pretty much SOL. :wink:

I should get a t-shirt that says I cannot be held liable for any damages. Come to think of it, I should put that sign on my car, too. :wink:

Why would the employees need to collect the carts from the corrals if people returned them? The way it works in the stores I go to with corrals is that I pick up the cart from the corral, I return it when I’m done shopping, and maybe they bring them in at the end of the night. I say maybe, because most of the stores have that “if you take the cart past here, the wheels won’t roll” line. They certainly don’t have employees rounding up carts constantly, as I used to see in the days before corrals. ( Of course, what really got the parking lot cleared of carts was the quarter deposit to get the cart out of the corral. You had to return the cart to the corral to get the quarter back)

I heard one of the supermarket chains here periodically has a firm come in to do on-the -spot tuneup and repair of ‘wounded’ or ‘worn’ carts at a cost of $100 per cart.

Those carts aren’t cheap to start with, and even reparing them is pretty expensive.

doreen, it sounds like you’re talking about a shopping cart corral at the entrance to the store, but I think what every one else is talking about is corrals scattered around the parking lot so the customers don’t have to take the carts all the way back to the store. The only store I’ve ever shopped at where you had to pay a quarter deposit to get a cart was Aldi’s.

What gripes me about people and shopping carts is how people will leave their carts in the parking spaces next to the corral. Too lazy to push the cart an extra few feet? One time I got went to put my cart away and there were three carts in the corral and about a dozen parked around it…some of them half in the traffic lane. It took me all of two minutes to put all the carts where they belonged.

Oh, and one time I had a shopping cart stalk me. I was walking through the parking lot (we had parked near the back of the lot) and there was a cart sitting out in one of the parking spaces. As I walked past it, it slowly turned and started rolling towards me.

Nope, I’m talking about the ones scattered around the parking lot. The stores around here that have them generally don’t have a bunch of carts in front of the store. Sometimes there are a few, left by people who take a cab or use a personal shopping cart to get their bags home from the store, but most of the time you either grab a cart from in the parking lot (from a corral or loose) , or you won’t get one. Like I said, employees might bring them inside once a day, but they are not constantly collecting them from the corrals. And I don’t understand why they would- carts in corrals are not in the way, they are not occupying parking spaces, and they are accessible to customers.

Courtney v. Vescio City Court of New York, Oswego,131 Misc. 2d 381; 500 N.Y.S.2d 484; 1986 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2508

I went to a car shop that had a sign saying “not responsible for damages in case of fire”, looking to plug a tire. Fortunately I noticed the sign as I approached the sales person. I played dumb and apologetically said I “couldn’t take the risk” and drove away out of spite for such a stupid disclaimer.

Despite the signs proclaiming otherwise, Best Buy paid for damages that occurred to my mother’s car when a stray basket struck it in the parking lot. It didn’t even require a lot of work on my mother’s part if I remember right.

This thread made me think of one of those “truth is stranger than fiction” stories that happened to my mom.

She was parked in the lot of the grocery store where we always shop (and where I used to work in the summers during college.) This store uses cart corrals made mostly of metal bars, but with an arch-shaped plastic roof over the top.

While she was inside shopping, a storm started to move in, preceded by really strong winds. One of the gusts of wind was so strong that it caught one of the cart corrals (which were pretty heavy, but not anchored down by anything at the time) just right under that plastic roof and hoisted it up into the air a little and sent it tumbling. It hit my mom’s car and smashed out the rear windshield, then rolled over the top of a car that had people sitting in it (luckily only scratching up the top of the car and not sending broken glass flying in at them), then smashed out the front and rear windshields of one more car before landing on the ground again in an empty space.

They paid for that damage (just a deductible in our case) and now the cart corrals are bolted to the ground. :slight_smile:

I see a lot of dump trucks with signs on the rear warning people to stay 200 yards behind the truck; that little piece of info is followed by the claim that the trucking company will not accept liability for broken or chipped windshields. All this info in contained on a sign roughly the size of a license plate. I might be able to see the sign from two hundred yards, although I doubt it. I know dern well I couldn’t read it from that distance.

This is the type of thing that makes it ridiculous for a store to claim putting away carts keep prices low-hiring some firm to do things for 3 times the cost of a potential small business lower bidder. I don’t know if it applies directly to this specific situation but it happens all the time in big companies I’ve worked for.