If a national retail chain installed wrong oil filter in my car, what can I do in the case my engine fails in the long term due to their negligence?

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If a national retail chain installed wrong oil filter in my car, what can I do in the case my engine fails in the long term due to their negligence?

My car got an oil change from a national retail chain after they returned the car to me and I drove it for about 6 to 15 miles my engine started growling and running very loudly and it lost its power. Concerned about it, I took my car to a dealer and they found out that the other retail chain installed the wrong oil filter in my engine. I’d like to know what are my rights and what to do in the case my engine fails in the long term due to their negligence?

Asked on December 13, 2011 under General Practice, Ohio

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I assume that you have replaced the oil filter with the correct filter.  If not, you should do that to mitigate (minimize) damages.  Damages is the amount you are seeking to recover in a lawsuit.  If you fail to mitigate damages, your damages will be reduced accordingly.

You could sue the retail chain for negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that in this case a reasonable oil change shop 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 by installing the wrong oil filter), actual cause, proximate cause and damages.

Actual cause means but for the installation of the wrong oil filter by the retail chain would your engine have been damaged?  If the answer is no, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means were there any unforseeable, intervening events which would relieve the retail chain of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.  Damages as mentioned above is the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit for negligence against the retail chain.  Your damages would be the cost of repairs to your vehicle's engine.  You will need to mitigate damages by selecting an engine repair shop whose charges are comparable to others in the area.  If you selected the most expensive repair shop you could find, your damages would be reduced accordingly.  If you need a rental car while your car is in the repair shop, you would need to mitigate damages by finding a reasonable rental rate.  If you selected the most expensive rental car you could find, your damages would be reduced accordingly.

It may be difficult to establish causation if you do not have problems with the engine for a long time; however, if you have something in writing from your dealer or where you have future engine repairs done stating that the damage to the engine was caused by the incorrect oil filter, that would provide evidence to help establish causation in a potential future lawsuit for negligence against the retail chain. 


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