Can I sue an automotive shop if they damaged a good working part in my car while trying to fix another unrelated problem?

My parents took their car to an automotive shop because it was overheating, but everything else work fine. The technician said that water pump was bad and he could do it for $300. My parents accepted and left $150 as deposit. Technician later said that water pump was not the problem it was the radiator, my parents told him to replaced it. Next day they call him and he said that radiator did not fix it and that Head gasket probably got damage when car overheated. For a head gasket to get damage by overheating car has to be driven for a long period of time, which my parents didn’t do.

Asked on November 1, 2011 under General Practice, Texas


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the automotive shop for negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care in this case that a reasonable automotive shop 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 damaging the head gasket), actual cause, proximate cause and damages.

Actual cause means but for the automotive shop repairing the car, would the head gasket have been damaged?  If the answer is no, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable, intervening events which would relieve the automotive shop of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.  Damages means the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit.  Your damages would be the cost of repairs (replacement of the head gasket).  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by selecting another auto repair shop whose charges are comparable to other auto repair shops in the area for replacing the head gasket, etc.  If you were to choose the most expensive repair shop you could find, your damages would be reduced accordingly.

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