If a mechanic damages your car during a repair, is he liable?

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If a mechanic damages your car during a repair, is he liable?

My son took his truck into get the spark plugs changed. The shop broke the spark plug and now says it has to take the engine apart to get it fixed. They are going to charge him to do this.

Asked on August 5, 2011 Minnesota

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, he can be liable if in fact he was negligent in the handling of the vehicle and the repair.  I would take the car from the repair shop and to another repair shop to look at before you authorize any work done.  You need to find out  - if you can - exactly why the spark plug broke off.  Was it fused on?  Would it have broken no matter who  was working on it or was it really something that this mechanic did to the car?  You will need all these questions answered and as proof in order to sustain a suit against the mechanic for negligence.  Good luck to you.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If a repair negligently damages (or, for that matter, intentionally damages) a vehicle that is in its care, they are responsible for the cost to repair that damage and any other consequences from it. The question is, was the repair shop negligent, or unreasonably careless? If not--if, say, the sparkplug was old, corroded, etc. and would have broken pretty much no matter what, if the shop exercised all due care and the plug broke anyway, they would not be liable, or economically responisible. Liability generally depends on fault, or doing something wrong; no fault, no liability. So the question is a factual one--did the mechanic cause the damage through carelessness or error, or did he not?


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