Is a body shop liable for reairs to my car caused by their bad workmanship?

I took my car in for repairs at a body shop. The repairs were to replace the radiator core support and repair front frame damage. I drop my car off with them on a Saturday and picked it up on monday. I drove from the body shop home but then I had to drive back because I was charged $100 more then I was required to pay. The following day I drove from home to work and the front drivers side wheel came off while driving. Damaging the fender and the spindle and wheel studs and rim. From what I could see, this all happened less then 24 hours of leaving the shop. Are they liable for the damages to my car? And what can be done?

Asked on November 14, 2012 under Business Law, Colorado


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

They possibly could be liable but you would need to prove the body shop caused this damage. The fact that 24 hours was between the time you took it and the time the incident occurred could be problematic but you would or should try to file the consumer complaint first with the state attorney general or city prosecutor's office and show the additional fee charged and the damage.  Perhaps the agency who handles consumer protection issues will be able to help you get the car repaired and your money back.  Otherwise, your only other option would be to sue in small claims court for costs of additional repair and refund of the extra $100.00 charged.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Assuming that the wheel came off due to some bad workmanship or other negligence (unreasonable carelessness) on the part of the shop--such as not tightening the nuts when putting the wheel back on--the  shop would be responsible for the damage their actions or carelessness caused: for example, the cost of the repairs to fender, spindle, wheel studs, and rim. To recover this money if they won't pay voluntarily, you would have to sue the shop; one option is to sue in small claims court. Be aware that to win, you will likely need some expert testimony--like another mechanic--on your side, explaining how the wheel fell off and why it's the shop's fault; the fact that it fell of 24 hours after service does not, by itself, prove that they were at fault.

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