A bailment is a temporary transfer of property to another for a limited time and for a specific purpose.  The transfer of property in a bailment is only in regards to possession, not ownership.  The bailor is the owner of the transferred property.  The bailee holds the transferred property.  The property is held in trust for the benefit of the bailor.  A bailment is completely different from a bail bond.

What Are Some Common Examples of a Bailment?

Many daily activities are considered bailments.  Some examples include:

  • Valet parking: When you hand the keys over to a valet attendant, you are the bailor who transfers your property (car) to the valet attendants (bailees) for a limited time and for the specific purpose of parking your car.
  • Hotel check-in: When you give your luggage to the hotel staff to hold, a bailment has occurred.  As the owner of the luggage, you are the bailor while the hotel is the bailee.
  • Maintenance of property: For example, you give your broken television, computer, or VCR for a repairman to hold and fix.  This is considered a bailment.

What Are the Rights of the Bailor?

The bailor is the owner of the transferred property.  As the bailor, you have the right to receive your property back in an acceptable manner.  For example, your car should be returned to you in the same condition you left it if you valet parked it.  What is considered acceptable returned property by the bailee depends on the situation.

What Are the Duties of the Bailee?

The bailee must return the property to the owner (bailor) in an acceptable manner.  Otherwise, the bailee can be liable for the full value of the property.  Vicarious liability often makes the employer of the bailee the responsible party.  For example, if a valet attendant at a hotel crashes your car, the hotel may be liable for the damage to the car rather than the employee.

Should I Get an Attorney if I Have a Bailment Dispute?

If your property was returned to you by a bailee in an unacceptable fashion, an attorney can make sure you are compensated in full.  An experienced consumer protection attorney can defend you if you were a bailee and not at fault for the destruction or damage to a bailor’s property.  Contact a lawyer to learn about your rights and defenses for your particular situation.