Is Her Parking Ticket My Responsibility?

June 18, 2012 | By | Comments (0)

When are you obligated to chip in to help a friend? “Recently, a friend drove me and two other pals to an event. Afterwards we returned to find a parking ticket on the car’s windshield,” wrote a reader named Cynthia.

“One person said that she would help pay for the parking ticket. I, too, said I would chip in,” Cynthia wrote.  “Our other friend remained silent. What is appropriate here? Should we have chipped in to help pay for the parking ticket, or would it have been acceptable to just offer sympathy?”

This is one of those situations where no good deed goes unpunished. It was nice of your friend to drive you all to the event—did you three passengers pay for gas or tolls, by the way?—and now she’s stuck with a big bill for her efforts. Of course, it’s not your fault she parked illegally. You aren’t obligated to pay for your friend’s mistake any more than you would be obligated to pay the damages if she drove her car into someone else’s. She’s the owner of the car and has responsibility for following all laws when operating it.

However, it would be nice of the three of you to offer to defray the unanticipated cost of her kindness. A parking ticket split four ways is far less painful to pay. If she doesn’t accept the offer? Then a nice gesture would be for you to pick up her dinner tab after the event.

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