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Can auto body shop charge storage fees and How much?

Santa Clara, CA |

my car was hit and run. so i took it to a friend's friend body shop to get some paint done. when i dropped off the car, the owner said just leave the car at his shop for the inspector (from my insurance company) to come out for an estimate. well, 4 days later, i visited the shop (not my insurance selected shop) & asked him for an estimate so i can compare the two. he wouldn't give me an estimate & even told me that he ordered the part (w/o my agreement nor did i sign any paperwork with them). when i heard that, i told him i'd take my car back to another shop for an estimate or take it insurance selected shop. he said i had to pay $125 a day storage fees (in CA) for 4 days ($500 total). Is it legal to charge storage fee w/o paperwork and $125 a day? What's the laws in CA? Thanks a bunch!

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Attorney answers 3


Wow. Unless you signed some kind of contract with the body shop (which I doubt), that was very presumptuous of the body shop to say you have to pay storage fees. See if they have some kind of posted or written policy about storage fees even while waiting for an estimate. They can't just make it up out of thin air. And even if they do have it posted somewhere, you still can fight because you didn't see it/know it/sign something about it.

You should immediately go get your car back, and let them hunt you down/find you to charge you the $500. And then you can address it at that point. But don't let your car continue to stay there.

You also may want to call your insurance company to assist you in dealing with this and getting your car back.

If you need an attorney to step in and help, let me know.

Good luck.


I think they can only charge you a reasonable fee, unless you have agreed to the $125 per day. Based on your inquiry, it appears that you have either collision or comprehensive coverage. You should turn this matter over to your automobile liability insurance carrier and let them deal with the body shop. I suspect that your policy would cover towing and storage charges and I would let your insurance company deal with this problem. I do suggest that you legally remove your vehicle from the shop to avoid further charges.

Legal Disclaimer:

Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to insure proper advice is received.


This is outrageous. You should immediately contact not only your carrier but the police to file a report and the consumer protection with I believe it is the bureau of ato repairs.
Do not threaten this person with arrest or anything else. It will only make matters worse for you.
This person is obviously not a friend.

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