Can I Sue The Mechanic For Failing To Fill My Car With Oil?

I had my oil changed three months ago when my mileage was 189,437. They gave me a sticker saying to change it again 3,000 miles later when reads 192,437. I have a printout from the shop as well. My car recently broke down. The mechanic at a different place said my engine locked up because of no oil. They found no leaks, and even put three quarts in to try to turn the engine. No luck. Do I have a case against the oil change place? What should I do?

If you believe the oil change shop was either negligent in their service or intentionally failed to fill your car with oil, you can seek damages from them. If the shop was negligent, you could be entitled to any damages you incurred due to this negligence. This would include the cost of repairing the engine, the costs of towing, and any costs associated with not having a car, including a rental car and lost wages. If you have evidence that the shop failed to fill your car with oil intentionally, you could also seek punitive damages.

Based on the information you have provided, this would most likely be a negligence case. A legal principle called res ipsa loquitur would most likely apply. Because you do not have direct evidence that the shop failed to fill your car with oil, you would have to argue that the only way the engine could have seized was because there was no oil, and the only way that could have happened was if the shop was negligent.

Most likely, this claim would exceed the limits for your jurisdiction’s small claims court. You can file a complaint in your regular court by yourself (this is called pro se). You can also hire an attorney to represent you. You can consult local civil litigation attorneys and decide if is worthwhile to file a complaint. You can also approach the shop directly with your information and see if they will cover the cost of repairing or replacing your engine.