If my RV caught on fire while being test driven by the dealershipafter they workedit, are they liable?

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If my RV caught on fire while being test driven by the dealershipafter they workedit, are they liable?

Rv brought to dealership for diagnosis of backfiring and fuel smell. The dealership said it was O2 sensor (we felt it was not) as O2 would not cause these issues. We authorized them to replace it anyway. On test drive, vehicle caught fire. Are they responsible since it appears that they misdiagnosed the problem?

Asked on June 7, 2011 under General Practice, California

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If the RV caught on fire as a result of the negligence or misuse of the dealership itself, mechanic or employee, then yes, that dealership and individual mechanic could be held liable for damages. Further, if the fire was as a result of failing to diagnose the issue properly and fix it (especially if they didn't listen to you as to other possible reasons), then they could also be held liable. You need to immediately contact your insurance company and see if your policy allows for the insurance company to sue on your behalf for replacement or repair or the fair market value or if you need to possibly hire your own counsel to sue all parties (mechanic, dealership, manufacturer for product liability issues (anyone in the stream of commerce), warranty company if applicable, insurance companies for all of these entities, and your own insurance company).

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If  you believe that the dealership caused the fire in some fashion, you may sue them. Whether you can win and recover anything will depend on whether you can show that their negligence--e.g. a misdiagnosis--caused the fire. Note that it's not enough that they misdiagnosed (if they did); if the misdiagnosis and actions based on it did not cause or at least contribute to the fire, they woulld not be liable, since their wouold be no causal link between what they did and the fire. You have to show both negligence (or carelessness) and a causal link (often called  "proximate cause" in the law) in order to prevail when you sue someone. Good luck.


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