Am I just screwed?

I recently had my car worked on at a local shop. I have, or I guess I should say had, a pretty expensive sound system that I’m rather proud of. After the car was fixed, they set it in what I guess is a standard staging area next to the road for the cars they’re finished with where someone very carefully removed my multimedia unit from underneath the dash. I guess what I need to know is if I have any chance of the shop being responsible for compensation. They say no… I believe the quote was (we ain’t really insured for things like that unless a tree or somethin’ falls on yer car."

I’m sure they’re not insured for it; that doesn’t matter. They may even have included a waiver in your estimate to protect themselves. This waiver may or may not be valid; the law in your area may very well provide that anyone who accepts your property in bailment is absolutely liable for it. You need to ask a lawyer who practices in your area. I am not a lawyer, and if I were, I would not be qualified to advise you on the law in your area, and even if I were qualified, I couldn’t be YOUR lawyer, and you couldn’t be my client.

I may be wrong, but it is their responsibility to provide a secure location for your car while it is in their charge. As long as they have the keys, it’s their responsibility. If you had driven down and picked up the keys with the intention of returning a few hours later to pick it up, it’s your responsibility. But as long as it was entrusted to them, until you pick it up, they should secure it.

I’m sure they have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care, but I’m not sure they bear responsibility for everything that might happen to your car. Check with your insurance company (it may be covered under your homeowner’s policy), and if you still have questions, check with a local attorney.

Yes I think they are responsible for it. How do you know that it was just some random person that stole it and not any of the mechanics that worked on the car?

A friend of my had his car towed when in pittsburgh. His brand new, very expensive ($5000) laptop was gone when he got the car back. The place that towed it claimed that it was stolen while in their parking lot. My friend got his company’s lawyer after them threatening legal action. A couple days later the laptop was “found” in an unassigned locker at the towing company.

As Gary T notes, they may not have an absolute duty to protect the car. In many states, they would have a duty only to exercise reasonable care. Whether this is reasonable or not would be ultimately a question for a jury. However, as Nametag notes, it might be the case that the place is absolutely liable for the loss even if they were very careful – it all depends on state law. Adolescent, you need to contact an attorney in your jurisdiction.

BTW, welcome to the SDMB.


Your insurance company would be the best people to give you advice. Call the police whille the car is still on the repair shop’s lot and report the theft. Get an incident number*. Call the insurance company and let them know the radio was stolen while the car was in for repairs. Give them the police report number.

*In some states, loss that is reported to the insurance company with no police report, the insurance company can jack your deductible up to a thousand dollars or some ungodly amount.

Thank you all for your input. I did contact my insurance agency who had little to say considering that the car is currently covered only with liability, (I understand the stupidity in this but sometimes options are limited.) I did file a police report and I guess they’re doing whatever it is they do with that information. I got the answer I was looking for in here, which was most people believing as I do, that they are probably responsible. My next action will be to in fact consult a lawyer and the local laws for this type of thing. Once again I thank you all for your help. Thanks for the welcome, Cliffy…glad to be here.

Couldn’t resist decoding your sig:


But, huh? Or is my Morse code that rusty?

Q.E.D. wrote:

It’s part of a quote from Yogi Berra. “90% of this game is half mental.”

Ahhhh…I thought it sounded familiar. Where did the “90” go, I wonder?

I would suggest filing in local small claims for the full replacement cost of the radio, plus installation fees, plus court costs.
If they don’t show up, you have a default judgement against them and can collect on that. This hurts their credit.
Rather than waste a day defending themselves, there’s a good chance they’ll go ahead and settle for half of what you’re claiming.
If you believe that doing this is unethical, obviously, don’t.

The ony glitch with a jury is that many shops have posted signs saying “Not responsible for lost or stolen items”. However, a good lawyer should be able to overcome that.

I’ve never quite understood this. Can I absolve myself of ANY future liability simply by posting a sign that I’m not responsible for it?

As far as the signature, your Morse code is actually right on the money, it was my mistake. It should be correct now. Yes, it is my most favoritist quote in the whole wide world. Yogi Berra said it best and it applies to most things…games or not.

As far as the small claims idea, I will definitely take it that far if need be but maybe I can get it settled when I find something legal in writing that they can review. Thanks.

Yes, good luck! Sorry I haven’t anything more to contribute to the already excellent suggestions to your problem.

This happened to me and the garage was held responsible; my insurance paid out then pursued the claim against them, but things might be different where you live.

FA , I am sorry about your sound system. Of course, everything depends on the law where you live, but your situation describes a textbook example of a bailment. Generally, a compensated bailee (as the mechanic was in this case) must exercise reasonable care (or in some jurisdictions extraordinary care) to prevent loss of or damage to bailed property. All of this is french for, “I think they are liable.” Whether they have insurance is beside the point. It would be crazy for them not to have such insurance, but it happens. If they don’t have insurance, they will just have to pay for the system themselves.

Depending on how much the sound system costs, it might not make sense to hire a lawyer to file a lawsuit. You might be better off doing that yourself in small claims court. You might find that it is worth paying a lawyer for an hour of his time to help you get the claims correct and maximize your chance of recovery. It is not very difficult to talk to a lawyer for free, and I would avail myself of that and see how much it would cost for a lawyer to represent you and what they think of your chances.

Good luck, and let us know how things go.

Hey, that was a case on Judge Judy recently. Yes, I watch that show.

The plaintiff won because it was proven the defendants did not ensure the car was secured at all times. (A mechanic walked away from the open car to answer the phone.)