Who has to pay for a break in a store?

Verified 06 May 2022 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

The person responsible for the scrap must compensate the merchant

If you unintentionally broke an item in a store, you still have to pay the merchant.

Indeed, you have a responsibility to make good the damage that the loss of the merchandise caused him.

You also have to make good the damage to the merchant if the accident was caused by persons or things under your responsibility. For example:

  • Your minor child
  • Your pet
  • An object you use (stroller, cart, etc.).

The refund concerns not only the broken item, but also other damage that the breakage could have caused to the merchant. For example, breaking a jar of paint that dirty the carpet.

Please note

but many shopkeepers will not ask you for anything, because they are covered by an insurance that they have subscribed especially for this situation.

The fault of the trader may limit or prevent his compensation

You will not be required to pay compensation to the merchant if the accident is due to fault or negligence of the merchant.

This is the case, for example, if the accident is caused by a large congestion of the aisles or a poor arrangement of the products (placed too high or in unstable equilibrium).

In this case, you must prove the fault or negligence of the merchant. You can prove it by any means: photo, testimony, etc.

What is the compensation procedure?

The compensation procedure for involuntary breakage is different depending on whether you have third-party liability insurance. This insurance is included in your home insurance and covers all members of your household.

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You have liability insurance

You can use your liability guarantee to compensate the merchant.

You must make a declaration to your insurance, within 5 days, by registered letter. The application must include all details (location and date of the accident, contact details of the trader, circumstances of the accident).

If the merchant is insured against breakage of goods, he must give you the contact details of his insurance company so that you can add it to your claim.

You must provide the merchant with your identity and the contact information of your insurance company so that they can also make a declaration to their insurance company.

Do not sign any acknowledgement of liability.


insurance may ask you to pay a frankness. Remember to check the amount of the deductible in your insurance contract.

You don't have liability insurance

You have to compensate the merchant for the damage he has suffered.

Since this is not a purchase of goods, you will not have to pay the advertised price of the product, but the loss actually suffered by the merchant, that is the price he paid himself for the product.

The merchant must therefore justify this price by providing you with the purchase invoice for the product that you unintentionally broke.

If you pay on site, you can request a receipt to keep written proof of the transaction.

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