Damage to Car at the Car Wash – Can Carwash Be Held Liable?

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“We drove our truck through a car wash at a gas station today. The car wash damaged our truck. My husband was advised to fill out an accident report and that he would be contacted tomorrow. There is a sign at the car wash stating that they are “not liable”. Legally does that mean that they are not responsible for any damage done to our vehicle? Is there anyway around that?

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

Unfortunately, this is going to be one of those situations which will turn almost entirely on a combination of the business and contract law in your state, the case law in your state, and the specific facts of the case.

Without knowing any of these things, what I can say is that the more “routine” the damage to your truck was, or the more it was a function of a problem with your particular truck, the less likely you would be able to hold them responsible in court. For example, if your paint got a small scratch, or your antenna bent, or your weather stripping on your door was missing and so your interior got wet, you’d be less likely to be able to hold them liable than if something completely out of the ordinary, like a brush roller crashing through your window, had occurred.

But the only way that you can know for sure is to talk with a lawyer in your state. Many lawyers offer free consultations. Of course, it could be that they intend to make good on the damage, given that they told you to fill out an accident report. If not, you’ll need to carefully weigh your options, and the cost of each. You may also want to consider small claims court.



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Author: Anne P. Mitchell, Esq.

Anne P. Mitchell, Esq. is a noted family law expert, Internet law expert, and Professor of Law at Lincoln Law School of San Jose. She is the author of "Surviving Divorce: the Single Father's Guide" and "The Email Deliverability Handbook"