the grey areas of liability can be interesting to think about. how much of one's life can be defined in dollar terms? can damage occur where both parties are innocent?

situation: bicycle/car rock kick

say a bicycle is riding down the road along side an expensive car. a rock in the road is run over by by the bicyclist, unaware of its presence, and the angle is such that the rock is kicked up and scratches the car.

the damage is obvious, the scratch, but is there fault? is there a burden on the cyclist to repair the scratch? i say in this case there is not. if responsibly is dependent on decisions made then each operator was making good decisions to proceed down the road. it was not possible to forsee the rock therefore there is no choice that should have been made to prevent the damage.

at the same time, damage is done and assuming the car owner wants the scratch fixed, who should pay? the driver did nothing wrong and the cyclist did nothing wrong. i say the owner of the car is responsible for fixing the car because thats what ownership means, taking care of problems to the assets as they arise. its irrelevant where the rock came from. one could make the point that if the cyclist wasnt riding on the road at that time, the damage would not have occurred but the same case can be made for the car to take a different route that morning. its circumstantial.

lets say the bike operator was liable. what especially bothers me about that is it makes it impossible to live a simple low-cost life. if someone lives happily on $12k/year and makes decisions to not incur expenses, then biking down the street would become too much liability to incur. If a $50k mercedes gets its paint scratched and its $5k to repair, that would be a burden of gross disproportion to the bike operator's life, and it would be incurred without the operator making any bad choices.