Can I sue an auto repair shop for causing additional damage to my new vehicle?

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Can I sue an auto repair shop for causing additional damage to my new vehicle?

I took my car to an auto repair shop that was selected by my insurance company. A few days later the company called me and said the vehicle was ready. I arrived to the shop and noticed a dent on the back door that was not there. They took responsibility for the damage. In addition to that the original repairs were sloppy. They kept the car for another 2 days. Today I went back to the shop and noticed that the door they damaged had signs of being fixed and dented. Now the keyless system doesn’t work. What can I do?

Asked on November 23, 2011 under Accident Law, Florida

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the auto repair shop for negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care in this case that a reasonable auto repair shop 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 by damaging your car), actual cause, proximate cause and damages.

Actual cause means but for the auto repair shop working on your car, would your car 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 auto repair shop of liabitility?  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 car.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by selecting another auto repair shop to repair your car whose fees are comparable to other auto repair shops in the area.  If you were to select the most expensive auto repair shop you could find, your damages would be reduced accordingly.  If the case is settled with the auto repair shop's insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.  If the case is NOT settled with the auto repair shop's insurance carrier, you will need to file your lawsuit for negligence against the auto repair shop prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.


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