Can I sue a mechanic for damages to my car and repairing items not discussed?

Asked over 5 years ago - Frankfort, IN

My car has been at the mechanics for 2 months because of the cost to repair the transmission. When I went to get the car, it wouldn't start. I asked him to give me an estimate on further costs. Instead, he started repairs before giving me the estimate. The car was, also, hit while it was parked on his property and there is visible damage. What is the next step to his mistakes?

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Ronald Lee Burdge

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . The next step should be you going to a lawyer to find out what your rights are for sure and what you can do about it. The shop should have given you an estimate before starting the work and the shop shouldn't have damaged your vehicle or allowed damage to occur to it. When you take a car to a repair shop for them to look it over or repair something, in most states you create what the law calls a "bailment" contract. That requires the shop to take reasonably good care of the car while it is in their custody. Then when the shop does any kind of work on your car, unless they use special language to avoid giving you a warranty, in most states you automatically get a warranty that they are going to do the work in a "good workmanlike manner." That basically requires that they do the repair or service work right. If they don't, then you have a right to recover damages for what they do wrong or the damage they cause (or, if they don’t return the car at all, for the value of the car itself). But you have to be able to prove that the reason for your new problems is something that the repair shop did or did not do. In other words, you have to be able to show that it was fault of the repair shop. The one exception to that is under a bailment contract, like you have here, where they return the vehicle back to you and it is not in substantially the same condition that it was in when you gave it to them. Under that circumstance, in many states the repair shop may have the burden of proof to show that they are not the reason for the new problem. Because the law is different in each state you need to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney. Call your local attorney's Bar Association and ask for a referral to a Consumer Law attorney near you or you can go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers (http://www.ohiolemonlaw.com/ocll-site/ocll-loca...) and find one near you (lawyers don’t pay to get listed here and most of them are members of the only national association for Consumer Law lawyers, NACA.net). But act quickly because for every legal right you have, there is only a limited amount of time to actually file a lawsuit in court or your rights expire (it's called the statute of limitations), so don't waste your time getting to a Consumer Law attorney and finding out what your rights are. If this answer was helpful, please check the box below.

  2. Alan James Brinkmeier

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Photodocument the damages done to your car. Have it reported to the mechanic's insurer. Hopefully he is a bonded and well respected business guy, not some fly by night type and has insurance.

    Anyway, demand all further repair estimates be in writing (that is a good practice anyway) and that no work may commence until you authorize the repair (also in writing is a good practice). That way the scope of work is laid out (that is how I always do it) so you have some remedy should things go south.

    As you are going now, you have turned total control about the timing, quality and breadth or your car repairs to the mechanic. And IT IS YOUR CAR.

    Good luck to you.

    God bless. I am in Chicago and do not practice in your state.

    NOTE: This answer is made available by the out-of-state lawyer for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you understand that there is no attorney client privilege between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney that practices in your state in the subject practice discipline and with whom you have an atttorney client relationship along with all the privileges that relationship provides. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question.

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