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VIC Can I Seek Compensation from Mechanic for Car Damage?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by trishioa, 23 July 2016.

  1. trishioa

    trishioa Member

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    Generally, would a mechanic be liable for damage to a car if a) it was still in their care and they had the keys in their possession and b) the car was not parked on their property but in public parking bays adjacent to their building?

    We recently took a car we have sold to the mechanic for a RWC before we hand it over to the new owner and when we picked it up the front grille/badge had been ripped off the car. It seems it was done between the time my partner dropped it off (parked in public parking bay because no parking left inside mechanic's property) and when they brought the car inside their workshop to do the RWC. They claim that when they brought it in they noticed the grille was missing but didn't mention this to us. The car was kept overnight locked up in their property and then put back into the public parking bays the following day. The mechanic was not very helpful and didn't offer us anything.

    This is very disappointing as I now have to tell the person who bought the car that it has been damaged and now take time and extra expense to source and fit a replacement grille.

    What are my options? Do I seek compensation from the mechanic?
     
  2. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    The relationship that is formed when you leave your vehicle with a mechanic is called a bailment for reward. This arises where goods are taken into custody in return for valuable consideration and it is for the mutual benefit of the parties.

    In this situation, the bailee (the mechanic) is under a duty of care to deal with the goods with the due care and diligence which a careful person would exercise over their own chattels in similar circumstances. Therefore, while it will depend whether leaving your vehicle in a public carpark overnight would constitute negligence, they may be liable for your loss.

    I would expect they are insured for this type of thing, but they won't want to claim on their policy. I would press the issue with them, don't give up, keep harassing them for compensation or to fix the damage.
     
  3. trishioa

    trishioa Member

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    Sophea, thanks for your reply.

    Just to be clear, they claim they parked the car within the premises overnight. It seems that the damage occurred during the day, while the car was waiting for them to do the road worthy - the car was parked in a public carpark.

    It's a tricky one, on one hand, I want to retain a good relationship with the mechanic, as they have been helpful and honest up until this point but on another, I can't trust that my other car will be safe in their hands when we leave it with them for a service.

    I will be calling them today to discuss what happened and see what they can do about helping us repair the damage.
     
  4. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it's difficult when you want to maintain a good relationship with them. Be nice but firm. If it's easier, send them a letter expressing your concerns. If they consistently refuse, send a letter of demand, demanding that they either repair the damage to your satisfaction or make a claim on their insurance within 7 days or you will institute legal proceedings.
     

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