Destruction of personal property

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Destruction of personal property

My problem is, the mechanic that was supposed to be working on my vehicle drove my car and hit his neighbor metal fence. He kept the vehicle for 4 days avoiding my calls. After threats of police involvement, he brings the car to my job and leaves it with key’s in ignition windows down. The windshield was busted, mirrors broken, fender split and initial repairs were not done. My car is destroyed This is currently under investigation with the authorities. How to proceed with insurance company to file a claim? This isn’t my fault and I need a vehicle for work until the matter is taken care of. What do I do?

Asked on September 15, 2016 under Accident Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you have the relevant insurance (e.g. collision coverage), file a claim with your insurer--that's the fastest, easiest, surest route to compensation. (You can later sue the mechanic for any amounts not paid by insurance, like your deductible.) You explain it the exact way you explained it here: you brought a car to a mechanic, who drove it carelessly without your permission.
If you don't have relevant insurance, if you know his insurer, you can send a letter requesting compensation to them; however, it is voluntary on their part whether they will pay you, unless and until you sue him and win in court (and even then, the insurer may not have to pay for him, since policies often have exclusions for criminal actions, and what he did may well be criminal).
Your only other way to get money would be to sue the mechanic and, if he is not the sole proprietor of the shop you brought it to, the repair shop as well (since a business can be liable for the wrongful acts of its employees in many cases) for the then-current value of your vehicle, plus other out-of-pocket costs directly attributable or traceable to his actions (like the cost to rent a car to get around, for some reasonable time). Based on what you write, you should have a very good chance of winning, since his fault seems clear. But a lawsuit will take months--if you need a car faster than that, you will have to pay for one out of pocket while waiting for compensation.

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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