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Damage caused to vehicle by car park exit barrier


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Hi all, After reading a number of threads and seeing how helpful everyone here is, I wonder if you could impart some advice on the slightly awkward situation I find myself in.


I work on a site where access for vehicles is controlled by automatic raising barriers activated by a key card. Way back at the start of June, I exited one of these barriers to join the back of a queue of traffic waiting at the traffic lights to exit the site.


I believed my vehicle was clear of the barrier, however shortly afterwards came the crunching noise of the barrier dropping, in the process causing long and deep scratching to the tailgate and rear bumper of my vehicle. Because my vehicle is painted in a Mica finish, the repair will involve the repainting of both the tailgate and rear bumper, blending into the next panels and replacement of the associated badges, which will cost hundreds of pounds.


I have raised the issue with the facilities manager on the site, and he has spent a significant amount of time trying to deny the company is at liability for such damage, claiming to have progressed matters but not really giving me any answers as to how we can proceed.


I do not believe the claim that ";Vehicles are parked at owners liability" is valid, as my vehicle was not parked. The other claim that has been made was that I tailgated through the barrier. Going by the dictionary definition of tailgating ("drive too closely behind (another vehicle)", I do not believe I did this - I left a significant amount of time before passing through the barrier before I moved my vehicle, during which time the barrier did not move from the raised position.


As the barrier requires the access card to be tapped, it has been suggested that this might be the cause - as 'tapping out' is such a common occurance I cannot recall whether I definitely did or not at that time, but I would be surprised if I didn't. Irrespective, I do not believe that barrier should be set to drop if there is an obstruction - and if so, IMHO the owner of the barrier should take liability for the damage caused if the equipment was being used by an authorised person in good faith.


I have informed my insurance company, but have told them that my intention is to settle privately or pay for the repairs myself as it is pointless losing my no claims bonus when the cost of repairs is about the same or less than my excess.


They have accepted this and thankfully it doesn't seem to have affected my renewal too badly. The dealer I purchased the car from have also put touch-up paint into the scratches to stop any further damage from developing and costs racking up as such.


Two months on from the incident, I am beginning to lose faith in the company taking this matter seriously. I am not really in a position to pay for the damage myself right now, but I fear that the facilities manager is simply trying to drag this on for so long that I just go away and leave him alone.


I have no intention of this, but I am not sure what I can do apart from carry on pestering him with emails every time he doesn't reply by the time he says he will. Can anyone advise on a reasonable course of action I can look into taking?

Edited by BankFodder
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Write to them outlining what happened (yes I know your repeating yourself) and what you want doing to get it resolved. Send it recorded and head it letter before action. If they ignore it sue them in court for the cost of getting it repaired.


Parking at your own risk is fine for things they cannot control such as theft, vandalism etc but their barrier hit your car. They can control that therefore they are responsible. Go get them!



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Are you talking here about a private parking company which is managing the car park? Or are you talking about a parking area which is owned and controlled by your employer?


You're quite right about the disclaimer. It has no validity. The owners/occupiers of car parks have a duty of care towards all of the people who use the car park and a general disclaimer such as you describe is ineffective in law.


However, I have to say that I think you are in for an uphill battle. From what you say there are various explanations as to why this problem may have occurred and you don't really seem to have any evidence to support your version.


I think that you would have to be able to show that it has happened to others as well and so that there was clearly a problem – or else you will have to monitor the barriers and see if there is a fault in the timing of their descent. Video evidence of this will help you.


In the absence of some evidence, I don't think you have much of a hope – especially when by your own admission you are not quite sure of the precise sequence of events.

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From what i have read above, i tend to agree with j66, if you can't drive forward enough to clear the barrier you should not have gone through simple as. The place i use to work had a barrier like that and at least once a week either someone would try and tailgate the vehicle in front or drive through thinking the barrier will not come down till thier car is through. there was some messed up cars. the funny thing was there use that gate to move brand new cars waiting for collection by the customer, and more than once the companies drivers wrote of brand new cars not paying attention.

It is easier to enter a rich man than for a camel to pass a needle

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Thank you to everyone for your help, advice and opinion. Sorry for the delay in replying. I will try and answer everyone's comments where I can, but if I miss one please let me know! The car park is owned and managed by my employer, not by a third party. BankFolder: I'm not sure why I would have to prove that this has happened to somebody else? Surely the fact that it happened is proof that it is possible? In regard to the barrier descent, see below. The barrier did NOT lower between the first car passing and my car passing. This is due to the sensors in the road surface, which detect the presence of a vehicle. These sensors extend a significant distance from the barrier when approaching it, which mean that if you approach the smartcard reader to 'tap out', the barrier detects your car and starts raising again - it is possible to exit the site without touching your card when this happens, whether by design or otherwise. However, the vehicle sensors in the road only extend rougly 8-10 inches from the barrier on the exit side. It is generally agreed that I had passed the point at which this sensor was effective at detecting my vehicle, but not sufficiently that the vehicle was completely clear. Given that my vehicle is fairly average, this appears to potentially be something of a design flaw in the sensors. The exit is covered by CCTV which I am told is being reviewed. This will determine the precise sequence of events, however I am of the opinion that using my card to raise the barrier is irrelevant in this context, as the vehicle detection loops in the road should have detected the obstacle and stopped the barrier from lowering. The particular barrier in question has had to have been taken out of use numerous times in the past year or so for various repairs - more so than any of the other barriers on the site.

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