Who is Liable for a Parking Garage Car Fire?

A car fire in an enclosed parking garage can cause significant damage, not only to the car itself but also to surrounding vehicles and structures. If you have experienced a car fire in a public or private parking garage, you may be wondering who is liable for the resulting damages. The answer depends on the circumstances of the fire, who is at fault for the fire, and whether you parked your car yourself or a parking garage attendant parked it for you. A Phoenix car accident lawyer can help you make sense of the situation and determine whether you have the basis of an injury lawsuit.

The Difference Between Bailment and Lease Parking Situations

In recent years, courts have been issuing conflicting decisions regarding the question of a parking garage owner’s liability for car damages or thefts. To make sense of these cases, it’s important to understand the legal concepts at play when determining liability in a parking garage case. The two most important concepts here are bailment and lease.

To determine liability, courts will consider whether the situation was a bailment or a lease. A bailment is an arrangement where one party (the bailee) agrees to hold something for another party (the bailor). This can include storing items at a storage facility, renting a car from a rental company, or leaving your car with someone else for safekeeping. 

The Parking Garage Could Be Responsible For Damages

In this situation, the bailee is responsible for taking reasonable care of the items in their possession. If they fail to do so and the items are lost or damaged due to their negligence or breach of contract, they would be liable for any losses incurred. 

In a Lease Situation, The Parking Garage Probably Isn’t Liable

On the other hand, if you park your car yourself, keep your keys, and just pay a fee to leave your car in the lot, most courts view this as a lease as opposed to a bailment. In this case, courts typically agree that the parking garage is not responsible for damage that occurs to your car.

The Cause of The Fire Matters

Depending on the cause of the fire, there are several parties that could potentially be liable – regardless of whether it’s considered a bailee or a lease situation. Consider the following scenarios:

The Parking Garage Owner 

If faulty wiring within the parking structure was responsible for starting the blaze, then whoever owns or operates that structure may be liable too. 

The Car Manufacturer 

If there is evidence that suggests that faulty parts in your vehicle caused it to catch on fire (such as defective spark plugs), then you may be able to file a product liability claim against its manufacturer and/or distributor. This kind of claim would hold them accountable for damages related to their product’s failure and potentially allow you to recover financial compensation.


Arson is another potential cause of car fires in parking garages. In these cases, liability typically falls on the perpetrator of the crime, but other parties may also bear some responsibility as well. For instance, if inadequate security measures allowed someone to enter the garage and set your car on fire without being detected or apprehended, those security measures could be deemed negligent. 

In this case, the party who failed to implement appropriate security measures could be held accountable for damages caused by the arsonist.

It can take some time to determine who is liable for a car fire in a parking garage but it’s important to do so if you want to seek justice and receive compensation for your losses. An experienced personal injury attorney in Phoenix can help guide you through this process and make sure that you are pursuing all available legal avenues. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.