I borrow your car and drive it. The brakes on your car fail and I smash the car into someone's gate. Prior to lending the car, the car manufacturer posted a possible defect on their web site that said that certain cars brakes might malfunction. (If relevant, let's say the manufacturer said that just 3% of cars encountered this problem.) You didn't check the site or know about this defect, and you never had a problem.

Who's responsible to pay damages to the gate?

  • Me - If I recall correctly, a Sho'el (borrower) may be responsible for any damages that he causes to someone else's property even accidentally.
  • You - As car owner, aren't you responsible for checking up on possible manufacturer defects?
  • The car manufacturer

Note: - Please try to generalize your answer regarding any similar machine or item. The main parameter in this scenario are that the manufacturer had a defect and they publicized it (questionable if a web post is "sufficient"), and that the owner did not know about the defect so assumed that there was none at the time that he lent the item.

Perhaps, in this scenario, more than one party may be responsible for various reasons. E.g., the manufacturer might ultimately be responsible for compensating the car owner for their negligence in insufficiently posting the problem. In this question, I am only interested in who must pay damages to the gate owner.

  • Please inform me if this question enters your "complex scenario" rule. As much as I try to read it, I sometimes have trouble knowing what questions qualify and what doesn't. – DanF Apr 10 '18 at 17:21
  • Just wondering: Where do we find in halacha that a seller is liable for a defect (and especially the damage it causes) that he wasn't aware of at the time of a sale? – Danny Schoemann Apr 11 '18 at 14:42
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    @DanF IMHO The OP is still mistaken. "If I recall correctly, a Sho'el (borrower) may be responsible for any damages that he causes to someone else's property even accidentally." That statement seems incorrect. The special rules of sho'el apply only between the lender and borrower-concerning the borrowed object/animal only; not between the borrower and a third party gate owner(even if it is the lender's gate). IOW a guy who rented a car, borrowed a car, or owns his own car would all be equally liable for the gate owned by a random third party. – David Kenner Apr 11 '18 at 14:51
  • @DoubleAA I was contrasting "accidental "onus" damage" to the car vs "accidental damage" to some other person's property. The OP still seems to be using the word "accident" in that understanding. Yes, of course if the borrowed object gets damaged due to normal use during its normal work purpose, then the borrower does not have to pay. Example: the car's spark plug needs replacing because of the borrower's road trip. That is just wear and tear so he shouldn't pay. The car was legally parked and someone hit it. That is onus and he pays. The OP does not seem to be מתה מחמת מלאכה. – David Kenner Apr 11 '18 at 15:21
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    @DannySchoemann That's a very good question. Regarding cars, there may be a "built-in" responsibility. Most car manufacturers have an x-year warranty for essential car parts. If there's a manufacturer's defect on the part under warranty, do they have a responsibility to contact you about it? – DanF Apr 11 '18 at 17:30

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