Can I sue a dealership for brushing off my car concern after an auto theft that lead to it being totaled?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I sue a dealership for brushing off my car concern after an auto theft that lead to it being totaled?

My car was stolen and had damaged done to it. The dealership repairs it, but I contacted the dealership about concerns with how it was running, and they asked me to wait up to 2-3 weeks before coming back in I still have those text messages. They said tat it’s related to the replaced battery they put in without asking me to come in knowing the car was stolen. Before the 3 weeks, my car started over heating and caught on fire. The car is now totaled. Fortunately, I did not experience any physical harm. Can I sue this dealership for ignoring my concern, which could have lead to me being seriously harmed and that lead to a total loss on my part due to them ignoring my concern?

Asked on July 22, 2019 under Business Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can likely sue them for any costs you incur and were not paid by insurance (e.g. if the car was totalled and you were paid for it less a deductible, you could sue for the deductible), but will have to prove in court with expert testimony (e.g. the testimony of a mechanic who examined your car after the fire and determined the cause of the fire) that the dealership's actions caused the fire: the court will not and cannot simply assume that the battery or work they did caused it. So unless you have something--e.g. the testimony of a mechanic or other expert--as to the cause, you cannot assume that you have the evidence to prove and win your case.
Also, bear in mind that you can only sue for the monetary loss: there is no compensation in the law for "could" have happened. Therefore, since you were not harmed, the fact you could have been hurt had things gone differently is irrelevant.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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