What are my legal rights concerning a car engine blown after an oil change?

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What are my legal rights concerning a car engine blown after an oil change?

My wife had our car’s oil changed at a dealership (that my wife also works for). The technician didn’t tighten the oil plug and it came out and the engine blew. The dealership replaced the engine for us but the second engine (a used “junkyard” engine) doesn’t seem to be working properly. My wife is hesitant to say too much because she does work for them. What are our legal rights concerning continuing to fix this car or replacing the car?

Asked on May 8, 2012 under General Practice, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If a dealership negligently (or carelessly) damages your car in the process of serviding it, is liable for all repair or replacement costs--including the cost to put the car in as good a shape as it had been. Making an inadequate repair is not an acceptable alternative unless you deem it such, and you could sue for the cost to replace the junkyard engine with one in good shape (or to repair the junkyard engine). Alternately, you could seek to  recover the dimunition in value--so if the use of a "junkyard" engine reduces the car's value by, say, $1,000, you could potentially sue for that dimunition.

Those are your legal rights. If the dealer will not voluntarily make you whole, you need to weigh possible consequences to suing them--such as the potential loss of your wife's job--versus what you could gain by litigation.


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