Destruction of personal property

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 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.


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