Two months I ago, I was rear ended in a car accident which totaled my car. As soon as I got out of the vehicle (gratefully with minor injuries after my car spun two full times), an auto garage attendant lurked around the accident site, offering for me to put my wrecked car in his lot so that I can just go home without worrying about it. Absolutely no discussion of pricing or charges were brought to my attention; nothing monetary in nature was discussed at all that day or during this offer. I naively thought a friendly person was allowing me some solace after a horrible accident. Weeks later, while awaiting the police report to come out (it ended up taking nearly three months before the report came from LAPD), the auto garage contacted me asking when the insurance company will pay them. Of course, I don't even know yet if the insurance company will pay ME let alone the auto garage. I try to move the car, now that I know there's charges involved. They stop me on arrival, saying if I take the car away, they won't get paid. So I leave it. They are now threatening a lien on the car, saying it will affect my credit. I've signed nothing and there's no invoice. I have the title in hand.
You can file a complaint with the Bureau of Automotive Repair. https://www.dca.ca.gov/webapps/bar/complaints.php
There is a lien on a vehicle kept for storage. (Civil Code section 3068(a)).
https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/civil-code/civ-sect-3068.html There is nothing in the statute about notification to the owner of storage fees, so maybe it's not required.
Per section 3068(c)(1), the maximum storage fees for a vehicle under $4000 is $400, and if the vehicle is worth over $4000, the maximum is $500. The garage has to notify you by the 16th day.
You can file a Declaration of Opposition to a Lien Sale of which you have been given notice. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/wcm/connect/86bbcf80-85f1-46fa-8924-6c94bd22217d/reg668.pdf?MOD=AJPERES. The garage would then have to bring an action to foreclose the lien, and you could appear in court to explain why the lien is not valid. In this instance, the period of potential storage fees expands to 120 days.
I don't know whether you can successfully challenge the existence of a lien. On the one hand the garage's behavior seems predatory. On the other hand, your naivety is extreme and, perhaps, unreasonable to expect someone to store your car for three months.
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