Can I sue a vehicle transport business for damage to my vehicle during transport?

I had a insured vehicle transport company transport my 1957 Chevy bel air from California to NY. When the vehicle arrived the drive stated he hit some low hanging trees and it scratched numerous areas on the vehicle causing 2700 in damages. Driver will not submit a claim and his insurance says he has 2500 deductible and will not pay the damage costs. Can I file a small claims court suit against the trucking business in NY state where vehicle was delivered even though the company is from Massachusetts?

Asked on August 30, 2018 under Business Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Since the company chose to take a job delivering to NY--that is, chose to do business in NY--you can most likely sue in NY; when a business chooses to transact business in another state, that generally gives that state's courts power over the business. BUT you can't sue in small claims court. Small claims only has jurisdiction (power) over defendants located in the same county as the court. You'd have to sue in "regular" court and have the case served on the trucking company using the (more complex and expensive) rules for out-of-state service. And if you sue them and win, and they still do not pay, you'd need to pursue out-of-state collections, which can be expensive and time consumming. You have to think carefully about whether it is worthwhile taking legal action; you can, but it might not be cost effective.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.