Can I sue a business if an oil change that it performed ruined my engine?

UPDATED: Jun 26, 2012

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Can I sue a business if an oil change that it performed ruined my engine?

I took my car in for a oil and filter change. Within a week my car felt as though it wasn’t running smoothly as before. I had a second opinion check out my oil it was extremely low and contained metal debris. My engine began knocking loudly which ultimately caused my engine to fail. It’s 2 weeks since my oil change now my engine is blown its ridiculous and unfair that I should have to fit the bill for the companies negligence. Can I sue for a new engine?

Asked on June 26, 2012 under Business Law, California


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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the oil change business for negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable oil change business 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 oil change, 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 acts which would relieve the oil change business of liability?  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 a replacement engine.  If you need a rental car, your damages should also include the cost of a rental car.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by selecting a comparable engine for your car and selecting a rental car with a reasonable rate otherwise you will have failed to mitigate damages and your damages will be reduced accordingly.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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