Are auto repair shops responsible for damage they cause?

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Are auto repair shops responsible for damage they cause?

I just got new tires on my car. The car is a year oldmodel and is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system. The system has a sensor in each tire that sends the tire pressure to a main receiver inside the car. The system worked perfectly fine before. But after the new tres were installed a error light came on. I went back to the shop and they used a machine to determine the sensor in one of the tires was broken. They said that things like that happen and it’s not their fault. I think they’re lying but how can I prove it? Other than saying everything was fine until they came along.

Asked on October 6, 2011 under General Practice, California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You are correct that it might be difficult to prove the tire shop broke the sensor; however, you might want to have another mechanic check it and see if that mechanic can determine the cause of the broken sensor.  If that mechanic's opinion is that the tire shop's installation of the new tire broke the sensor, having that statement in writing will strengthen your case against the tire shop.

You could sue the tire shop for negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that in this case a reasonable tire shop would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm). 

In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove duty (of due care mentioned above), breach of duty (the sensor was damaged when the tire was installed), actual  cause, proximate cause, and damages.  Actual cause means but for the tire shop installing the tire, would the sensor have been broken?  If the answer is no, which appears to be the case, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable, intervening events which would relieve the tire shop of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.  Damages means the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit.  Your damages would be the cost of repairs to your car.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by selecting an auto repair shop whose charges are comparable to others in the area.  If you were to select the most expensive repair shop you could find, your damages would be reduced accordingly.  You may be able to file your lawsuit in Small Claims Court.  Your damages should include the cost of repairs to your car and court costs.  Court costs would include the court filing fee and process server fee.  You will need to file your lawsuit prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.


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