skip to Main Content

Is a Night Watchman Liable For Damages That Occur While He Was Sleeping on The Job?

Rav Chaim Weg

QuestionReuven is a night watchman at an office building. One night, he fell asleep on the job. When he woke up, he saw that vandals had broken windows and spraypainted graffiti on the walls. Is he liable for the damages? Furthermore, does he still get paid? 

Answer: A night watchman is a Shomer Sachar. A Shomer Sachar is liable for geneviah v’aveidah and peshia. Falling asleep on the job is peshia; however, the Gemara in Shavuos says that a Shomer is not chayav for geneivah and aveidah if he is watching karkah. This includes anything that is attached to the ground, unless a special kinyan is made. According to most Poskim, a Shomer is also not liable for peshia on karkah. Accordingly, the night watchman would not be liable for the damage to the building because it is attached to the ground. 

However, he is not paid for that night because he did not do his job. 

If someone wants a Shomer to be liable for karkah, he would have to make a special kinyan with him in which he accepts responsibility to be chayav for damages that occur to it.

NEW Yorucha Program >