What are my rights regarding a car that was stolen at a body shop?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What are my rights regarding a car that was stolen at a body shop?

I had a car that was getting some work done at a body shop. The shop is in a garage of a used car dealership. Apparently this is not a legitimate and the body shop owner does not have an operating license or insurance. The owner of the body shop apparently rents the garage from the used car dealer. He had an employee that he pays in cash that took my car and never returned with it. It has been a week and the car is still missing. Report was made to the police. Body shop owner has no assets, but the used car dealer does. However he claims he is not affiliated with the body shop. The body shop frequently does work for the used car dealer but I am not sure how he is compensated. Someone owes me a new car, however it seems like the auto dealer is the only one with assets. The employee apparently is a drug user that has a history of stealing cars. How I should proceed. The car is worth about $6000. How should I proceed?

Asked on October 31, 2016 under Business Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the body shop rents from the used car dealer, then even if does work for the dealer, the dealer is not liable for the body shop's actions or debts: being a landlord of someone, or hiring their business to do work for you, does not make you their insurer or guarantor or otherwise make you liable for what they do. 
The body shop would not be liabe, either, unless you can show that they knew or reasonably/logically must have known that this employee was a car thief (i.e. they knew of his history) but knowing that, still employed him around cars. In that case, they could be held liable due to their negligence, or unreasonable carelessness, in employing a known car thief in a body shop. But if they did not know, they would not be liable: one person (or business) is not liable for the criminal actions of another person, even committed during employment, unless the employer was itself at fault in some way--such as by employing someone they *knew* to pose a particular risk in that context.
If the body shop would be liable but has no assets and is an LLC or corporation, you are most likely out of luck: you could only sue the LLC or corporation, so if they have no money, there is no money to collect. If the shop is not an LLC or corporation, however, if the business would be liable, you could likely sue the owner(s) directly, to recover from his/their personal assets.
You could sue the thief in theory, but he is not likely to have anything to collect from.
For the future, make sure you have theft insurance for situations where there is no one you can meaningfully hold liable.


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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption