Auto repair shops responsible for damage to vehicles in their possession


If your car is vandalized overnight while in the possession of an auto repair shop, whose insurance should pay to fix the damage?

Insurance companies and lawyers can certainly make arguments for both sides, but it's hard to get around this fact: Once a business takes care, custody and control of your vehicle, they are responsible for its safety. Even if the business took reasonable care, if your car is damaged, it is their insurance, not yours, that should process the claim and pay to fix it.

"It's not our fault, it's your responsibility," Mark Gaiffe said.

That's not exactly what Gaiffe expected to hear after getting some bad news from a Mesa Aamco service center.

"They told me my car had been burglarized overnight and had some damage incurred on it. They snapped the handle off," Gaiffe said.

The vandals damaged the door handle and window, broke into his Taurus, and stole a couple hundred dollars worth of automotive supplies. The Aamco had taken possession of the vehicle overnight to diagnose a transmission issue.

"It had to stay overnight because it only happened on cold starts after the vehicle sat for three or four days," Gaiffe said.

Gaiffe was certain that Aamco was liable for anything that happened while his car was on their premises. He expected that their insurance would pay the $800 auto body repair bill, but he says that's not what the shop manager told him.

"They just flat out told me to call my insurance company, and report it to my insurance company because they were not liable for it," Gaiffe said.

Gaiffe's insurance company did pay to fix the damage, but between his deductible and stolen property, he's out nearly $300. He doesn't think that's fair.

"In my opinion, Aamco should take responsibility," Gaiffe said.

After CBS 5 News contacted the owner of that Aamco, that's exactly what occurred. The owner told CBS 5 News there was a misunderstanding, his manager did not pass the buck, he told Gaiffe to have his insurer contact Aamco. He acknowledged his liability in this case and reimbursed Gaiffe his $100 deductible and for his lost property. Our thanks to Aamco in Mesa for resolving this matter so quickly.

Let's clear up any confusion once and for all. If your vehicle is in the care, control and custody of an auto repair shop, and it is damaged, the business is responsible. Call your insurer and have them contact the business to get their insurance information.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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