Can I sue an auto dealership for negligence?

I took my car to a dealership relating to a suspect coolant leak. They claimed there was no leak and did about $400 worth of minor repairs. 2 weeks later I was low on coolant again. Took it back and they said no leak. Took it back a 3rd time because now, along with coolant loss, my engine was running rough. Once again they said no leak and recommended replacing plugs and wiring for $600. Recently took my car to another shop because my car was running terribly and they said coolant has been leaking into the engine causing a cracked cylinder and I need a new engine for $6000. Any case?

Asked on October 15, 2011 under General Practice, Maryland

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

You can sue the auto dealer for negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care in this case that a reasonable auto dealer would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).

In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove duty (of due care) mentioned above, breach of duty (failure to exercise due care by not detecting/repairing the coolant leak), actual cause, proximate cause and damages.

Actual cause means but for the auto dealer not detecting/repairing the coolant leak, would your engine have been damaged?  If the answer is no, which appears to be the case, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable, intervening events which would have relieved the auto dealer of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.

Damages means the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit.  Damages means the cost of repairs to the car.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages.  For example, if a comparable new engine can be obtained in the vicinity for less than the $6,000 you were quoted, mitigation of damages would require going with the lower price.  Failure to mitigate damages would result in your damages being reduced accordingly.

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