If a local dealership parked my car in a known flood zone which resulted in my car being flooded while it was in their shop, what legal action can I take?

Dealership called me to inform me that I needed to contact my insurance company and file a claim so that they could get paid for beginning to fix the flood damage. Service advisor admitted to the area flooding during heavy rainfall yet no one moved the car. Dealership shopvac’d all standing water from car prior to my arrival to inspect the car. Service director at dealership is now stating that there is nothing that they can do at this point and I need to contact my insurance company which will result in a $500 deductible and a flood title being placed on my vehicle, need advice ASAP.

Asked on August 2, 2012 under General Practice, Virginia


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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the auto dealer for negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care 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), actual cause, proximate cause and damages.

Actual cause means but for the dealer not moving your car out of the flood zone, would your car have been damaged?  If the answer is no, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means are there any unforeseeable, intervening acts which would relieve 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 for negligence.  Your damages would be the diminution in value of your car resulting from the flood.

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