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Car totaled on mechanic's test drive: Who pays for the damage?

On November 7 Vince Hanson took his Audi S4 to Titan Motorsports in Orlando to have performance parts installed. Two days later, when Hansen went to pick it up, he was told a technician would take it for a quick test drive while he paid the bill.

But then -- >> the phone at the shop rang and they said, "we do not know how to tell you this, but your car was just in an accident around the corner from the shop", and I was like, "Is this a joke?" exclaimed Vince.

According to the crash report, the mechanic was at fault and was ticketed for making an illegal u-turn. "I wasn't angry at him, accidents happen." Hansen assumed Titan Motorsports would pay for the damage, but he claims when he asked for their insurance information, it was  "Hey, you know you have insurance for your car and you should open up a claim under your policy" and that really didn't make sense to Vince. Hansen stated the shop’s operations manager has refused to provide Titan’s insurance information and asking them to do so."I feel like I'm getting jerked around here. Your company destroyed my car under your negligence, and I feel like you guys need to take care of this."

Nero Deliwala, the owner of Titan Motorsports, said "The contract Hansen signed releases Titan from responsibility for any damage that occurs when a car is in their possession. Our terms and conditions clearly state who’s responsible for the damage. I’m completely sympathetic towards Vince and the inconvenience it’s caused him. It was an accident and accidents happen." Nero showed the contract Hansen signed to attorney Hank Hornsby. "The auto body shop can make the argument that they are not responsible to pay for those damages"

Which really brings us to a consumer beware. Before you leave something at an auto body shop, be sure you know what you’re signing away. Hansen sees things differently. He believes the fact that the mechanic who crashed his car was found at fault should make the contract null and void. "We’re expecting someone to take really good care of our possessions that we worked really really hard to own and pay for. When they don’t, they should be accountable for that, not us. Right?" Hornsby says the lesson from this may be the age-old advice to read any contract closely before you sign it. 

In my opinion, this goes back to what shop you're bringing your vehicle to. Are they fly by night? Do they have a nice facility? Do they have insurance? These are all questions that should be thought of when bringing your vehicle to a repair facility. 

In a case like ours, we carry professional shop insurance to cover our clients and our employees. Remember- this is directly in relationship to overall cost as well! You'd go nuts if you'd hear how expensive liability insurance is for an auto shop. Yes, you may find someone cheaper to do the job- but that doesn't mean they'll take care of you at the end of the day if something like this happens. Are you willing to take the risk vs the reward? I know I play my cards safe- I have too many employees to worry about being underinsured- and I value my clients too much to take risks like this. 

At the end of the day Titan should've taken care of this. At the bare minimum covered Hanson's deductible. I'd suspect that they have claims on their insurance policy, and I'd bet that they risk getting dropped if claimed on it (if they had insurance at all!) A perfect example- we had the unfortunate situation where a car was backed into. Rather than say "Mr. Customer, you'll have to go thru your own insurance" We took responsibility. The bumper was damaged from previous issues, so we elected to just simply replace the entire front bumper at no charge. It was the right thing to do. 

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Automotive
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