Do you have to pay for car repairs neither you nor the insurance company authorized?

My sister was in an accident and had her car towed to the repair shop. The repair shop is now trying to charge her the $1000 for the deductable and is going to charge her $10 a day storage fee until she pays them. The car was part of her bankruptcy she filed about a year ago. Can she just let the bank repo the car? Does she have to pay them for repairs she says she never told them to make? How can she get out of this mess there is no way she can afford to pay $300 a month for storage on top of the cost of repairs she never told them to make.

Asked on December 2, 2011 under Accident Law, Washington


L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question relating to unauthorized repairs resulting from damages of an automobile accident.  First, the fact that the vehicle was somehow related to your sister’s prior bankruptcy will likely have no relevance to this current issue.  If the vehicle was still considered her property after the bankruptcy, even if she owed money on the vehicle still, then this would be treated the same someone who had not filed for bankruptcy before.

The issue you are dealing with is a contract issue.  The auto repair shop completed services that you did not request.  However, how did the vehicle end up at this repair shop?  Did the insurance company inform you that the vehicle would be sent there and repaired there?  Ordinarily when a vehicle is taken to a repair shop after an accident, the deductible will be paid by the insured directly to the repair shop and then the insurance company covers the balance.  Was the vehicle driveable?  If you leave the vehicle on someone else’s property then they are permitted by law to charge you for storage.  Your cheapest resolve for the time might be to have the vehicle moved to a place where you do not need to pay storage fees, such as a friend’s driveway or garage. 

Someone would have had to sign off in order for the shop to begin repairs.  If your insurance company did this, then you need to contact them for authorizing repairs without your knowledge.   If you are still having problems you can contact your state’s insurance commission to file a formal complaint. 


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