What legal rights do I have against a dealership that does damage to my car when the car is in their possession?

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What legal rights do I have against a dealership that does damage to my car when the car is in their possession?

I dropped off my car at the dealership to change the tires and when I picked it up the front end of the car is dented, on the hood, and the bumper. They tried to cover it up with black permanent marker and tried to glue the bumper back together and gave it back to me. I noticed this before I left, thank goodness. I want to take legal action against them for trying to disguise what they had done. My car is brand new and an accident to the front end could change a car forever and could possibly have probblems for the rest of its life.

Asked on May 5, 2009 under Accident Law, Arizona

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

The dealer is absolutely liable for the damage to your car, while it was in their possession, especially if you were going to have to pay for the tire change.

The worst part about a case like this is that, just as in any kind of car accident, what you can recover is usually just the cost of repair, not the loss of value or the increased chance of having trouble with the car later on.

But, this isn't just a collision, the dealer lied to you by trying to give you back the car as if nothing had happened.  Arizona has a consumer fraud statute that should apply to this.  While the statute itself does not in so many words give you additional rights, if the state Attorney General takes an interest, it could end up costing the dealer a $10,000 civil penalty.

The Arizona courts might have decided to give you some additional rights under the consumer fraud statute.  It would be a very good idea to talk to an attorney about this, because he or she may be able to persuade the dealer to do the right thing, which in this case sounds like replacing your car with a very similar one without the front end damage.  If you need to find a lawyer, you can do that at http://attorneypages.com


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