Moved from HI to GA.Household goods & 3 cars got damaged & driven for 50 miles each w/o my authorization.Do I have a case against the moving company?

Paid CA moving broker $16,741 for household goods and cars transportation from HI to GA.They misquoted container size AFTER an inventory calculator was filled,then charged another $3,625 for the extra space even knowing from the start household goods wouldn’t fit in the container.They offered $700 for my household goods claim,and stated they are not responsible for the cars’ damages.They drove my 3 cars for 50 miles each w/o my authorization,and did $12k of damages on the cars.A full replacement insurance was asked over the phone but they did not include,just the $0.60/lb/item insurance.

Asked on June 11, 2009 under Criminal Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

They are definitely liable for damaging your cars if their people/employees/agents/contractors did so--and especially if they did so without any authorization. (Taking cars without authorization for a drive may in fact be a crime, if the people who did so knew they had no authorization.)

The moving company is also liable for damage done to your household goods if they were damaged by their people and/or while in their control.

They are free to offer less than the claims are worth, but you are free to refuse to settle for less than you want. Assuming they are insured--and you should *never* use  a mover who does not in advance provide proof of insurance--they should just be submitting the claim to their insurer--that's what the insurance is for, after all.

Note: as a practical matter, since lawsuits are expensive and time consuming, if you end up being offered close to what you want, you may choose to accept it and call it a day. You might also claim under your own homeowner's and/or auto insurance, if you have coverage, then let your insurer sue the mover to get their money back.

As to the shipping container: was the quote described in writing as "firm" quote? If so, then they can't charge  you more at the last moment--their mistake to misquote, their cost. If it was not a firm quote, then they could say that the cost would be higher; you're option would have been to refuse the more expensive container or to negotiate the price down on the spot. Granted, if it's moving day, you don't have alot of leverage to do that, but with a non-firm quote, you may end up paying for the extra space. If you negotiate a settlement with the mover, you could always offset the the extra cost vs. the claim for damages, which reduces what they'd owe you and may make the deal more palatable to them.

 


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