I was recently at a shopping center for a lunch and upon returning to my vehicle noticed a significant dent in my luxury car as well as a store cart rested against my car. I was not a patron of the store that owned the shopping cart, but rather a restaurant nearby. Upon further investigation, I've found that the lot on which I was parked was owned by the cart store. I notified that store and went in to fill out an incident report within 24 hours of the incident (not immediately however as I had to return to work). I was hoping to ascertain more information regarding their legal responsibility and in what cases they may be held negligent. From my understanding of similar cases online, I believe that to recover damages from the aforementioned store, I will need to prove two things: 1) The damage to my cart was caused by the shopping cart and 2) The shopping cart struck my car due to gross negligence on behalf of the store. A few more facts that I believe support my case:
1) Support that the damage was caused by the shopping cart:
Facts: There is gray paint at the height consistent with where a cart would have struck my car. Likewise, the damages are consistent with where a cart would have struck my car.
Unknown: There are cameras at the front of the store that are not available to my viewing until a discovery process -- as I was parked quite far away from this store, I am unsure whether the cameras will be able to prove a cart came my way.
A) Should I acquire a scraping of the gray paint on my cart to ensure it is consistent with the gray paint used on the carts? Will this help my case?
B) What other information should I know to reinforce that the damage was caused by the cart?
2) Support that cart damage was a result of gross negligence:
Facts: The parking lot where I was parked is owned and was built by the shopping cart store. It is at a significant grade, which no doubt affected the damage done to my cart. The municipality of the parking lot does not have any suggested requirements for the angle of building so it appears consistent with that. However, there were no noticeable signs where I was parked to suggest that there could be damage done to my car (it was located very far away - perhaps 250-350 feet from the store). Is this consistent with BRANKS v. KERN and something I can use to my advantage? Likewise, there are very few corrals in the parking lot relative to the traffic at the time. Kroger Co. vs. Elwood suggests that "there is evidence that grocery carts had rolled into vehicles due to the parking lot's slope and may have posed a foreseeable risk of damage to customers' vehicles" (I do not know the slope of the lot in the mentioned case). Lastly, when speaking to the security guard, he mentioned that these types of incidences occur "all the time".
Unknowns: I am unaware of how many customers (vehicles) usually visit the store at that time of day/week. Also, I do not know how frequently employees from the store in question retrieve the carts or if the corrals were full at the time of the incident.
A) Would any of the problems mentioned able contribute to gross negligence on behalf of the store?
3) Other information:
Facts: I was told that wind is often used as an "Act of God" defense. I have analyzed nearby wind patterns for the past 5 years and have found the average wind temperature to be within a normal reading on that day.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I greatly appreciate your help with this matter and am interested (aside from the financial aspect of it) to better understand the laws regarding the subject. I have not contacted my insurer yet, ascertained estimated quotes for repairs, and am currently performing research while I wait a letter in the mail from the store in question.