Can I sue a company for doing an oil change and forgetting to put oil back in which caused my car’s engine to lock up?

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Can I sue a company for doing an oil change and forgetting to put oil back in which caused my car’s engine to lock up?

I got an oil change today. I later went to work and 1 mile down the road the car cut off and would not re-start. The mechanic came out and said there is no oil in the vehicle.

Asked on September 3, 2011 under General Practice, Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the oil change company for negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care in this case that a reasonable oil change company would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).  In order to prove negligence, you will have to prove duty, breach, actual cause, proximate cause, and damages.  Duty is duty of due care mentioned above.  Breach is breach of duty of care by failure to put oil in your car.  Actual cause means, but for the oil change company not putting oil in your car, would your engine have been damaged?  If the answer is no, which appears to be the case, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable intervening events which would relieve the oil change company of negligence?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.  Damages means the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit.  Your damages would be the cost of repairs to your engine.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by having the engine repaired by a place whose charges are comparable to other engine repair shops in the area.  If you were to select the most expensive engine repair shop you could find, your damages would be reduced accordingly.  You will need to file your lawsuit for negligence against the oil change company prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the oil change company for negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care in this case that a reasonable oil change company would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).  In order to prove negligence, you will have to prove duty, breach, actual cause, proximate cause, and damages.  Duty is duty of due care mentioned above.  Breach is breach of duty of care by failure to put oil in your car.  Actual cause means, but for the oil change company not putting oil in your car, would your engine have been damaged?  If the answer is no, which appears to be the case, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable intervening events which would relieve the oil change company of negligence?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.  Damages means the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit.  Your damages would be the cost of repairs to your engine.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by having the engine repaired by a place whose charges are comparable to other engine repair shops in the area.  If you were to select the most expensive engine repair shop you could find, your damages would be reduced accordingly.  You will need to file your lawsuit for negligence against the oil change company prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.


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