Should I take an auto body shop to small claims court for failing to properly repair my car?

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Should I take an auto body shop to small claims court for failing to properly repair my car?

I was involved in an auto accident which was not my fault. A tow truck came to the scene and I let them take my car to their body shop; I signed a paper saying they could fix the car. My insurance company did not give me an alternative body shop which they preferred. The body shop said the repairs would take 2 weeks but it actually took about 5 weeks. Finally I had to sit in the shop and wait for them to fix my car. And it still wasn’t done; there was a broken part on the armrest. I took my car from them and brought it back in a few days. Again they ordered the wrong parts and I saw them try to glue my armrest together. Finally they figured it out the armrest but I had become extremely wary about their work. I took my car to the dealership where I bought it and they pointed out to me where there was poor workmanship and where a part was missing. I called my insurance company and they sent out an appraiser to look at my car again. On his new estimate he confirmed everything the dealership said and it looks like the amount of damages in about $425. My insurance company says it will not pay to get these damages fixed because I chose the body shop. I called the body shop and they yelled and hung up on me. What should I do? The insurance company and the body shop were both of no help but I guess the body shop should be most liable. Should I take them to small claims court? I don’t want to give them my car again to fix it, so what amount would I ask for? Should  I take it to another body shop and see how much it would be?

Asked on May 20, 2011 under Accident Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) You are correct in that the body shop would be the one to sue, if you do sue, for their negligent work and/or breach of contract (e.g. not performing the work specified, within the time frame specified). The insurer would not be liable for the body shop's performance, or lack thereof, especially since they did not recommend them to you or require you to use them.

2) You should get the car fixed--assuming you want and need to get it fixed--and then can sue for a combination of the a) the cost to finally have the repairs made; and b) some (perhaps all?) of any money back that you paid the body shop, on the grounds that they did not do the work which entitled them to that money.


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