What can I do if my car was stolen while at a repairt shop and I don’t have insurance?

I had my car in the shop to have the alternator replaced. While it was there, it was stolen. The mechanic says he didn’t have it fixed yet, nor was there a ton of gas in it (maybe 3-4 gallons). There was also another vehicle and some other various items stolen. I didn’t have insurance on the vehicle at the time because the vehicle wasn’t running and I wanted to save money to be able to pay for the repairs (in retrospect, I see this was a very bad idea). The mechanic says to wait to see if it is found, and that he only has liability insurance (no theft coverage either). What steps can I take?

Asked on July 24, 2014 under Business Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the repair shop for the value of your car. Depending on the circumstances, they *may* be liable under a theory of negligence (if they were careless and did not secure the car or its keys properly) or even for conversion (theft), if there is evidence they somehow collaborated in the theft, or if it was stolen by a repair shop employee. First, make sure  a police report has been filed; then ask the shop for compensation; if they won't compensate you, file a lawsuit. If the car was worth less than your small claims court maximum, sue in small claims, acting as your own attorney (pro se); if worth more, contact a lawyer to represent you.


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