Putnam's Handy Law Book for the Layman

Garage Keeper. - The garage has been said to be the modern substitute for the ancient livery stable. A garage man who receives the automobile of another to keep or repair - a service for which the owner is to pay a compensation - is a bailee for hire. While this relation of bailor and bailee exists, the owner is not ordinarily responsible for the negligence of the garageman or his servants in the care or operation of the automobile.

A public garage is not a nuisance. Even the storage of gasoline in suitable tanks set down in the earth is not a nuisance. Yet the business may become a nuisance when conducted in some localities, or in an improper manner. The operation of a public garage may therefore be enjoined in a purely residential section within a short distance of large churches, a parochial school and houses. Likewise the odors, the noise, and the fire hazard, which are [134]occasioned by the construction and management of a garage, create a situation which justifies public regulation.

vintage automobileA garage keeper is generally allowed a lien on an automobile for storage and repairs. If no price has been fixed in advance, the garage keeper is entitled to recover of the owner the reasonable value of the services and materials furnished. When the automobile is brought to the garage by a chauffeur, the garage keeper should assure himself of the chauffeur's authority to order repairs, especially those of a permanent nature.

The garage keeper when storing a car for another for compensation must exercise reasonable care and prudence. If negligent he is liable for the damage. It is said that the liability of a garage keeper for hire is not affected by reason of the knowledge of the owner as to the place where the property is kept. Its acceptance by the garageman imposes on him the duty of exercising due care for its safety and protection. But he is not an insurer of the property; and therefore is not liable for loss by fire unless he has been negligent. Generally, in such a case the burden of proof is on the owner of the machine to show that the fire was caused by the negligence of the garageman. Sometimes one keeps a car for another for accommodation, receiving no compensation therefor. One who thus serves another is liable only for gross negligence.

The garage keeper must protect the property from theft. If he permits a machine to remain in an alley when it ought to have been inside his garage, he is liable. In one case a motorcyclist left his machine with a garage keeper to be kept over night, and also gave permission for its inspection by any one whom he might send around. A person [135]appeared with a permit to inspect it who, under the permission, stole it and rode away. The garage keeper was rightfully held not liable.

If a garage keeper or his servant negligently runs a machine left in his custody for storage or repairs, the garageman is liable for the damage resulting to the owner. At the expiration of the bailment he must deliver the machine to the owner or person authorized by him to receive it, and is liable if neglecting or refusing. He is also liable if delaying unreasonably to make repairs, or for making them unskillfully. Lastly, if the car is driven by the garageman's servant while the bailment continues, the bailee, and not the owner, is responsible for any injury done to a third person by the servant's negligence. Of course, if the driver was acting outside the scope of his authority, and was using the car for personal purposes, neither the garageman nor the owner would be responsible for whatever happened. See Automobile: Chauffeur.


Do It Yourself Legal Forms
Law for the Laymen - Garage Keeper
Page Updated 8:31 PM Saturday 4/4/2015