Can I sue a dealership for brushing off my car concern after an auto theft that lead to it being totaled?

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Can I sue a dealership for brushing off my car concern after an auto theft that lead to it being totaled?

My car was stolen and had damaged done to it. The dealership repairs it, but I contacted the dealership about concerns with how it was running, and they asked me to wait up to 2-3 weeks before coming back in I still have those text messages. They said tat it’s related to the replaced battery they put in without asking me to come in knowing the car was stolen. Before the 3 weeks, my car started over heating and caught on fire. The car is now totaled. Fortunately, I did not experience any physical harm. Can I sue this dealership for ignoring my concern, which could have lead to me being seriously harmed and that lead to a total loss on my part due to them ignoring my concern?

Asked on July 22, 2019 under Business Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

You can likely sue them for any costs you incur and were not paid by insurance (e.g. if the car was totalled and you were paid for it less a deductible, you could sue for the deductible), but will have to prove in court with expert testimony (e.g. the testimony of a mechanic who examined your car after the fire and determined the cause of the fire) that the dealership's actions caused the fire: the court will not and cannot simply assume that the battery or work they did caused it. So unless you have something--e.g. the testimony of a mechanic or other expert--as to the cause, you cannot assume that you have the evidence to prove and win your case.
Also, bear in mind that you can only sue for the monetary loss: there is no compensation in the law for "could" have happened. Therefore, since you were not harmed, the fact you could have been hurt had things gone differently is irrelevant.


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