CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Has anyone successfully sued a Body Shop for unauthorized repairs?

I was in a serious accident, and the dealer recommended a Body Shop. They did an estimate, then a supplement for $12k, which I approved. Six weeks later, at pickup, the final charges were almost $19k on a $24k car (7 month old 2012 VW Golf TDI). My insurance company paid, but the car is now worthless-- VW will not even buy it back at all because they can’t certify it. I filed a complaint with the BAR in CA and they have ruled 100% in my favor that the shop continued repairing my car with zero explanation or authorization. The shop refuses to do anything but say they will warranty the repairs. My investment is destroyed. Has anyone ever successfully sued for unauthorized repairs?

Most insurance companies consider a vehicle totalled if the collision repairs approach 70% of the current value of the vehicle without the damage. Your insurance company agreed to let that approach near 80% of the value of the vehicle.

I can’t see how you can sue the body shop. If the insurance company paid for all the repairs you can’t show a loss in court. And you can be sure that the body shop was in contact with your insurance company to make sure they would be paid for any additional repairs to damage they may have found once the vehicle was dismantled.

Tester

First off you have no case and the car is not worthless. Its sill worth what a 7 month old 2012 VW Golf TDI is worth. They had authorization repair your car. You authorized it when you authorized the work. Supplements are between the shop and insurance company and this is not even close to a total loss. This is now between you and your insurance company. Talk to them. As long as the car was repaired properly you have no case. I work as a auto adjuster and the amount is not out of line for a new car. Parts cost money and on new car can cost more than est. amount. I will bet most of the cost increase was parts that came in a higher cost. Also a car is not a investment. Also VW BS about certifying it, is just that BS. They would buy this car at auction and sell it on their lot and certify it.

By the way I have as a adjuster paid claims up to 110% of the value of the vehicle for repair’s.

Do you have a complaint about the quality or workmanship of the repairs? Why do you say your car is worthless?

If I understand this correctly, you were in a crash, your car was taken to a body shop and your insurance company paid for repairs to your car. Is that correct?

If so, then the only complaint I think is legitimate is between you and your insurance company. I don’t see how the body shop did anything wrong. Damage beyond the original estimate is not unusual in big jobs like this. Your insurance company would not have paid $19K on a $12K estimate without approving the additional cost. Someone somewhere approved the total cost, and I guarantee your insurance company wouldn’t pay a nickel more than they authorized.

Your car was broken, now it’s fixed, insurance paid for it and the repairs are warrantied. Isn’t that how it works?

Your complaint is a bit hazy. You state that you were given an estimate and a supplement which you approved and in the same paragraph also state you were given no explanation or authorization.

Your car is almost 2 model years old whether you bought it 7 months ago or not and rhetorically speaking I have to wonder what kind of insurance company approves 19 grand in repairs on a near 2 year old VW TDI. Twelve grand here, much less 19, would have sent it to the salvage yard.

Another point that could be made. You’re referring to this car as an “investment”, which it is not.
Based on that and the comment about selling it back to VW, is the upshot here that you’re upside down financially on this car and are really upset because any resale or trade is not bringing enough to get you off the hook financially?

FWIW I would pay FAR less for OP’s repaired 2012 Golf, versus a 2012 Golf which was never in an accident.

Sure, the car still has a clean title, but it was hammered.

The fact that it was repaired correctly doesn’t change the fact that the severe accident occurred.

@LG90057 have you asked your insurance company why they didn’t initially want to total the car?

Unless you’re personally paying for the repairs yourself, which you aren’t, then you really don’t have much say in the repairs. It’s between the insurance company and the body shop. As others have mentioned your problem is with the insurance company not the body shop. The Body shop does not need your approval for further repairs beyond the original estimate, that is between the body shop and the insurance company, and I’m fairly sure that the body shop would’ve okayed an extra $7k in repairs. Again this decision is the insurance company’s, not yours.

I doubt you will get very far with a lawsuit, as the extra repairs were in all likelihood approved by your insurance company.

A couple of thoughts:

If the supplement was approved, that implies the first estimate was approved as well. How can repairs be unauthorized if they were approved?

The fact that VW won’t certify the car may mean that they didn’t do the repairs - which is something else entirely.

Bottom line: There doesn’t appear to be any issues other than - oh, let’s call it insuree’s remorse.

Why would your insurance company pay for repairs that weren’t authorized? Why is your car now worthless?

If your car was repaired and everything was paid for by your insurance company, what are your losses?

@JoeGuy when OP sells the car several years later and fully discloses that there had a been a serious accident, which was correctly repaired, the prospective buyer will offer FAR less money.

As I would.

As you would.

So to answer your question, that is when the loss will be realized.

If he drives the car 200,000 miles and then decides to sell, what has he lost? It would be difficult to calculate a loss unless he tries to sell right now and doesn’t get fair market value. But even then if he accepts an offer that is lower than his asking price, he would have a hard time trying to get the body shop to pay the difference since the value of their work needs to be taken into consideration and they have warranted their repairs.

My point is that he has a very weak case if he tries to take it to court.

#LG90057…I don’t really think you have a case here. The vehicle was in a wreck (were you at fault?) then the vehicle was repaired. Other than going back in time and avoiding the accident…I really don’t see that you could have done anything differently. Wrecked vehicles get repaired at some cost then you get the vehicle back. Repaired vehicles are usually worth less because it’s just a fact of life.

@JoeGuy if OP plans to get a new car every 5 years or so, as many people do (not me, by the way), it will be worth considerably less than a 5 year old Golf which was never in a severe accident.

If I had known that my $25,000 car was going to take $19,000 to repair, I would have been BEGGING the insurance company to total the car.

OP definitely didn’t come out the winner here, regardless of if anything can be done legally.

On the other hand, depending on the type of damage done, if the repairs and parts are good, he could actually have a better car than he did prior to the accident. He obviously has many newer parts than he had when he first bought it.

So the damages (money-wise) or lack of damages would be based on the quality of the repairs.

@JoeGuy you are certainly an optimist

I’m just wondering how bad OP’s car could have been prior to the accident.

After all, it is a 2012 VW, not a 2000 VW.

How worn out would it have been?

Not worn out much hopefully. Assuming it wasn’t driven like a race car, it was probably a well kept vehicle with no serious problems. But since we’re not getting anymore input from the OP all we can do is guess.

Based on what I’ve read up to know I’m thinking the value of this car is very much based on the quality of the repairs made.

That means that regardless of the seriousness of the accident, the vehicle’s current value is no longer based on its age. The value will be based on the quality of the repair.

So the car would be somewhere between nearly worthless and completely restored to its original quality.

The true value to the owner will be determined only if he decides to keep it and whether or not he is able to use it for the amount of years he originally planned to use it.