Bailment: Definition, Types & Cases

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  • 0:01 Bailment Defined
  • 0:57 Types
  • 1:51 Cases
  • 3:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

Once you complete this lesson, you should understand what constitutes a bailment. You will explore the different types of bailments as well as review a few famous bailment cases.

Bailment Defined

Imagine that you are going to move from an apartment to a house. Your lease expires in two days, and your new house will not be ready to move into for two weeks. As a result, you need to temporarily find a place to store your belongings. You ask a friend to store your items for two weeks, and your friend agrees to do so. This arrangement is known as a bailment.

A bailment occurs when an item or items is transferred to another party to be hold temporarily. The person who gives the items is known as the bailor, while the person who receives the items is known as the bailee. Therefore, in the example above, you would be the bailor and your friend would be the bailee.

The purpose of the bailment depends upon the particular circumstances of the transaction. Generally, a bailment occurs in order to either provide a benefit to the bailor or the bailee, though sometimes a benefit is provided to both parties. In the initial example, you would benefit from the bailment of your possessions.


There are several types of bailments. First, there is a deposit bailment. This occurs when one transfers his or her items to someone else for security or safekeeping purposes.The second type is the loan for use bailment. In the loan for use bailment, you loan out the items temporarily for the other party to use. For instance, you could loan your lawnmower to another person, and once that person finished using the lawnmower, you would get it back.

Another type of bailment is known as gratuitous. In gratuitous bailment, you temporarily give your possessions to another person who holds them for you as a courtesy. An example of this type of transaction would be a coat check, where your coat is stored until you retrieve it from the service.

There are other types of bailments that are informal and not typically recognized by the court. For example, a bailment by carrier occurs when you give items to a transport company to transport for you.

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