Who is Responsible for Damaged Phones in Restaurants: Waiter or Owner?

Imagine you’re at a restaurant, enjoying a meal with friends or family. You decide to capture the moment and hand your phone to a waiter to take a picture. Suddenly, the phone slips from the waiter’s hand and crashes onto the floor, resulting in damage. Who should bear the cost of repair or replacement? The waiter who dropped it, or the restaurant owner? This is a question that has sparked much debate and the answer isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. Let’s delve into this issue and explore the different perspectives.

From a legal standpoint, the responsibility often falls on the person who caused the damage. In this case, it would be the waiter. However, this can vary depending on local laws and regulations. Some jurisdictions may hold the employer (the restaurant owner) liable for the actions of their employees during work hours. It’s always a good idea to check local laws to understand who would be legally responsible in such a situation.

Employer’s Liability

Employers are generally responsible for the actions of their employees during work hours. This is known as “vicarious liability”. If a waiter accidentally damages a customer’s property while performing their duties, the restaurant owner could be held liable. However, this is not a universal rule and can vary depending on the specific circumstances and local laws.

Employee’s Responsibility

On the other hand, if the waiter was negligent or careless, they could be held personally responsible for the damage. For example, if the waiter was juggling several items and dropped the phone due to their own carelessness, they might be expected to cover the cost of repair or replacement.

Customer’s Responsibility

It’s also worth considering the customer’s role in this situation. By handing over their phone to the waiter, the customer is taking a risk. If the phone is particularly fragile or expensive, the customer might bear some responsibility for the damage. After all, accidents can happen, and the waiter did not intentionally damage the phone.


In conclusion, the question of who is responsible for a damaged phone in a restaurant is complex and depends on a variety of factors, including local laws, the specific circumstances of the incident, and the policies of the restaurant. It’s always a good idea to check with the restaurant management and your local laws to understand who would be responsible in such a situation. And remember, it’s always safer to take your own photos or use a sturdy phone case to protect your device from accidental drops.