These days most of the restaurants, stores, and other businesses offer valet parking services. Valet parking is the opposite of self-parking. In the case of self-parking, you find a parking space on your own. But, in valet parking, your vehicle is parked for you by a person called a valet. In order to park your car, you need to hand over your key to valet. This service is normally offered free of charge by the establishment.
But, have you ever thought about what happens if your car gets stolen when you have handed over your car keys for valet parking? Will the restaurant bear the loss or will you have to bear it yourself? In this blog, we will discuss everything about this with a real-life incident.
In the year 1988, a person had visited the Taj Mahal Hotel in his Maruti Zen Car. It was around 11 pm when he reached the hotel and soon after reaching he gave his car for valet parking. In return, he was given a parking tag which read: “IMPORTANT CONDITION: This vehicle is being parked at the request of the guest at his own risk and responsibility in or outside the Hotel premises. In the event of any loss, theft or damage, the management shall not be held responsible for the same and the guest shall have no claim whatsoever against the management.”
When the owner came out of the hotel around 1 am he was shocked to know that his car was driven by someone else. The management of the hotel said that 3 boys had visited the hotel by parking their car at the valet parking. After some time they requested the valet to bring their car from the parking area. At this time, one of these 3 boys picked up the car key of the Zen from the desk and drove away.
Even though the victim filed the police complaint, the car could not be traced. Later, the victim received an insurance claim of Rs 2.8 Lakh for the stolen car. After the insurance claim was settled both insurance companies and the victim filed a complaint against Taj Mahal Hotel asking for the compensation.
First, the complaint was dismissed by the State Commission stating that the insurance company didn’t qualify as a ‘consumer’. Later, the insurance company filed an appeal with the National Commission. The National Commission sent the complaint back to the State Commission, saying the insurance company had the right to file the complaint.
After this, the State Commission asked the Taj Mahal Hotel to pay the amount equal to the value of the car along with the 12% interest per annum and Rs 50,000 as litigation costs to the insurance company. It also asked the hotel to pay Rs 1,00,000 to the owner of the car for the inconvenience caused to him.
When the hotel filed an appeal with the National Commission, it was dismissed stating that "once the guest presents the car keys to the valet and possession of the car is transferred from the guest to the hotel, a relationship of bailment is established.”
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