Car fell off lift

My car (2011) fell off a mechanic’s lift while getting work done at their shop. Mechanic did not want to go through insurance, which I could understand. After 2 hours of trying to get my car back on the ground, they told me that my car has “minimal damage.” They said that they’ll have their body shop fix up my bumper. I took it for two opinions at other shops. Found out there is significant damage (broken AC, very damaged unibody, a hole in oil tank, a bunch of detached parts underneath, etc) The OG mechanic was not happy hearing about these estimates from second opinions. They are giving me a problem with paying for the damage. They only want their people to fix my car. (Which is NOT happening). Now they want to meet to “assess” the damage since they “cannot believe there was that much damage from the incident”… Let me remind you, my car FELL off their lift. Any recommendations on how to proceed?? They are 100% at fault, which they know, yet they are acting like this is a negotiation. I also have tons of photos and video proof of the damage from the incident as well as from the second opinions.

Get a lawyer and do not have any further contact with anyone except your attorney.


Hopefully no one was injured in this accident. Shop’s usually have liability insurance for this sort of thing. My take: Say “no” to yielding wholesale trust, keep them honest by keeping your own inde mechanic in the loop, but give the shop the benefit of the doubt. In other words, as long as they correct all the problems your own mechanic has identified, let them correct the problems themselves.


if unibody was damaged, this car is likely a write-off

you say they do not want to go through insurance… makes me wonder if they have any insurance in first place

I’m not sure if your own insurance would cover it under “comprehensive” coverage, as if yes, you would loose deductible, but most likely it can be recovered in few months, but then it will be your insurance lawyer handling further steps


and what is they correct 50% of the problems identified? 25%?

that’s a slippery slope where they will have the upper hand.

they have to open their wallet and let other independent shop fix it up now, or purchase the car at least at the private party value, definitely not at trade-in one


That is exactly it. I would never let them touch my car at this point. First they lied to me at the time of the incident, saying that the only damage was my bumper. They are going to have a someone do a cheap job fixing my car. Granted, my car is 10 years old – But thats not the point. My car is fully functional and needs to be fixed to its previous condition. The damage is about 3.9K (Plus need a rental for a week).

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Normally you have to give a place the opportunity to make you whole. I think since they tried to low ball the work, that probably could be argued that you tried to deal with them and they weren’t willing. After that then you are free to have the work done and then go after them for the cost of the repair. The only issue is whether or not the car should just be totaled out with that high a cost (depending on the value). Doesn’t matter if it was a great runner or not. I agree you need to have someone represent you but you might just chat with your insurance agent first to see if you should just proceed to replace the car.


If you have collision and comp insurance, I would just use it. Your car will be fixed at a place of your choosing or totaled quickly and if they are like my insurance co. they will be much better at getting your money back than you are. Since there is no bodily injury and it is an old car I can’t see a lawyer taking this on a contingency or recovering his fees for you.


It is standard operating procedure to keep damage repairs “in house”, not to cut corners but to control loss.

“Shops have insurance for these things”… This amount of damage will be less than the deductible for an auto repair shop.

Auto mechanics are not qualified to assess collision type damage, when a body repair technician looks at the vehicle a proper estimate can be written.


Ask for a buyout, I would not want that car back.


If you have collision coverage, then probably file a claim with your insurance as the shop seems to be wasting your time.
If you don’t have full coverage, then you can take the estimate to the shop, if they don’t honor it, you can file a claim in the small claims court. Just the sound of that might make them want to meet you somewhere.
Also, when they want to fix the damages, is this place a body shop or just a mechanic shop. I DIY a lot of scratches and dents on my own cars, but won’t want to be treated like that when a shop damages my car.

Yes exactly, the shop that caused the damage is a regular auto mechanic. The shop I had the estimate done at is a collision shop. The mechanic is claiming he’ll have his buddy at an auto body shop come and fix it at the mechanic’s shop. Just doesn’t make sense. I want it done right, which is why I sought out a collision shop’s estimate of the damage/work

whatever they do, make sure they check alignment before and after

I might assume that the whole body is twisted or bent at this point, so it would make sense to go an extra mile and to confirm that the distances between axles are uniform, that doors open/close same way as before, that body panel gaps are intact, etc…

knowing HOW they dropped the car would help in pinpointing the areas of the suspected damage, for example, if they dropped it head-first on the passenger side, I would check more carefully around the point of initial impact for any bent parts and for the general unibody out of shape indications

it may happen that expense to properly repair this type of damage will far exceed the value of the car, so it makes sense to check for these problems before doing any repairs

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This is true, but I would expect an auto mechanic to be able to assess:

I think the OP needs to go directly through his insurance from this point forward. Missing those and claiming only bumper damage??


It doesn’t make sense to you but trust me, it makes a lot of sense to him. Tell him you’re not interested in having his shop fix damage they are not qualified to fix and that you will be looking to be made whole. It would be easier for him to provide his insurance carrier information and avoid court costs but you’re willing to take those steps if he makes that necessary.

Get two quotes. You’ll need to provide some basis for the veracity of the first quote.

But first, a 2011 what? That makes a big difference in how I would pursue it. Unless you provide that info, no one can say what avenue makes sense. It could be a $200 car, it could be a $20000 car (unlikely) but no one knows based on the limited info provided.


Thanks everyone for the input! It’s a 2011 nissan sentra. They dropped it head first. My car balanced with it’s front on the ground/hitting the wall and the rear of the car getting caught on the lift. They apparently put my car on the lift with too much weight on the front, causing it to dip downwards until it hit the floor.

1 rail of the unibody got completely pancaked in. The back of the car hit the ceiling (causing broken bumper, broken spoiler & broken 3rd brake light. also muffler needs replacement). Like I said, there is also damage to my oil tank from the impact, broken AC, front bumper damaged.

I do think being a young female is playing a part in this shop’s attitude and dismissive stance about fixing it. If I tell them that I want to go through their insurance, because this has been nothing but a headache for the past week, what happens if they refuse to provide the info?

I would get the second quote. Then check what a car of your type, year and condition is worth- market value. Then I would draft a demand letter detailing that they damaged your car, you have two estimates to repair, or $ value to replace it whichever is lower, and they have 10 days to respond or you will be taking them to court. Send it certified mail, signed receipt requested.

You sue the business. It’s up to them to pay out of pocket or turn it over to their insurance then. If no response or refusal, go to the local courthouse where the business resides and file for a court date…


the amount of damage you described screams “write off”

this is pretty much the clear indication car is indeed a write-off

to “fix it right”, it would be needed to replace this rail and under-panels where it attaches, plus other parts around… making for a full disassembly and unibody repairs resulting in a huge bill

this is not a collector car, so it will not be practical

concentrate on “making you whole” and on financial aspect, not on individual items, it will cut the amount of BS discussions down

if they insist on repairs, ask for a written assurance that the car will be as safe as before the incident, in no clear mind anybody will give you that with unibody damage, then ram it to their throats that the repairs thy suggest is a bandaid, not making you whole

if these idiots give you written safety assurances, get refutation from the body shop and head to the court


+1, on all points, to greendrag0n’s comments.

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Have you talked to your insurance ? If you have full coverage you should at least see if they have some thought on a low stress solution . Otherwise just find a lawyer because I can’t see this vehicle being road worthy again.