What to do if a bad oil change service caused car damage?

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What to do if a bad oil change service caused car damage?

My engine light was on after my car got oil change from a national retail chain. When I went back to them, they refused to do anything. I ad 2 technicians from different auto repair centers concluded it’s store’s fault. Since the oil cap was left off, the oil spread everywhere around the engine area. This caused the mass air flow meter to become contaminated. I had to replace my air flow meter and completely clean my engine which cost me about $700. Can I sue?

Asked on July 25, 2011 Maryland

Answers:

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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the oil change shop for negligence.  Negligence is based on the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that in this case a reasonable oil change 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 (to exercise due care mentioned above), breach of duty (failure to exercise due care), actual cause, proximate cause, and damages.  Actual cause means but for the negligent oil change, would your car have been damaged?  If the answer is no which appears to be the case, you have established actual cause.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable intervening events which would relieve the oil change shop of liability?  If the answer is no, you have established proximate cause.  Damages means the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit for the cost of repairs to your vehicle.

In addition to the $700, your damages should also include court costs which would be the court filing fee and process server fee.  You can file your lawsuit in Small Claims Court.  You should obtain declarations signed under penalty of perjury from the two technicians at the other auto repair centers stating that the oil repair shop caused the damage to your car necessitating replacing the air flow meter and cleaning the engine.  With those signed declarations under penalty of perjury, the technicians won't need to appear in court.


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