If there was a fire in the backseat of my car that was caused by a part overheating, should I try to get the manufacturer to pay for repair?

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If there was a fire in the backseat of my car that was caused by a part overheating, should I try to get the manufacturer to pay for repair?

Should I try to get more than just repair costs? Nobody was hurt. There is smoke damage, the rear seat and one seat belt need to be replaced. The melted part (rear defrost) has already been replaced. The car is 11 years old.

Asked on January 29, 2012 under Accident Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is unlikely that it is worthwhile taking action, unless the cost of the repair was unusually high for an 11-year-old (e.g. it is a classic car, a very high-end car, etc.).

You say there was no injury. That means that the most you could recover is the cost of the repairs--or the value of the 11-year-old car, whichever is lower. That means you probaby cannot recover too much money. On the other hand, to recover from the manufacturer, you'd need to be able to prove that it was their part which overheated, and that the part overheated due to bad design or manufacturer--and not, say, because it suffered some damage during the 11 years since installation. To do this would require expert testimony and tests, which could easily cost more than you could recover.


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