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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Posts
    1

    Default Vehicle Fire Caused by the Dealerships Leaving a Manual in the Engine Compartment

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: PA

    On Thursday evening I picked up my car from the dealership. They were servicing it due to a recall. I drove it less than one mile to my home. The next morning I drove it approximately 2 miles and parked it in a parking lot of a medical office building. When I came out of the building 25 minutes later, the fire department and police from 2 townships were there. They had just put out a large fire on the front end of my car. It's totaled. Of course I was shocked. The police showed me that they found remains of a 60 page service manual on the battery. They insisted the report will reflect this. The dealership had my car towed back there.

    I contacted my insurance company as soon as it happened but they said to see how the dealership responded before starting a claim. The dealership thanked me for being so calm and said they's get back to me later in the day.

    That afternoon they called and said to start a claim with insurance because there's no way to determine how the fire was started and they did not find a manual. I told them I have the manual and sent pictures of the manual on the burnt up engine from the scene of the incident. They said to let insurance handle it.

    The township said the police report will be ready on Wednesday. I submitted the claim to my insurance company, who told me they'll try to get the dealership to cover my $1000 deductible. I'm *pretty sure* what I owe on the car is roughly the value of it.

    My car was also certified pre-owned, with the highest level additional service contract still valid. The one thing I didn't spring for was gap, but like I said I think the only thing that could put me upside down is the deductible.

    I'm thinking that the worst case scenario is that I will be given the value of my car minus $1000 and my insurance premium will go up. I'm glad nobody was hurt and nobody else's property got damaged. However, because evidence exists that it is likely their fault (at least that they left a foreign object under the hood), is there more I could be going after? I don't want a brand new car or anything, but surely I wouldn't mind if this gets sweetened, example: reasonable discount on whatever car I get next from them.

    I'm not a litigious person, but this sucks.

    Thanks for any advice.

    More information from OP:

    I hope this doesn't give away too much information, but this car brand has had a significant amount of bad press lately.

    Also, the police officers gave the disclaimer that they were not arson investigators, but said that where they found the foreign material would surely indicate negligence. My insurance adjuster/investigator (if needed) should be out to see the car early in the week.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    17,485

    Default Re: Car Caught Fire, Dealership Left Manual in Engine Compartment

    I don't know what to tell you.

    You either use your own insurance and deal with the results or you sue the dealer for negligence.

    You must know that.

    I don't know why you are making so much of the $1000 deductible. You bought the policy that way. You must have known that you might one day have to put up $1000 of your money to cover it. You could have had a lower deductible for a little more money.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    3,653

    Default Re: Car Caught Fire, Dealership Left Manual in Engine Compartment

    Can you post the picture of the burnt manual here? If you also have pictures of the vehicle after the fire, I would like to see them too.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.......

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    7,615

    Default Re: Vehicle Fire Caused by the Dealerships Leaving a Manual in the Engine Compartment

    Quote Quoting Callys
    View Post
    I'm thinking that the worst case scenario is that I will be given the value of my car minus $1000 and my insurance premium will go up. I'm glad nobody was hurt and nobody else's property got damaged. However, because evidence exists that it is likely their fault (at least that they left a foreign object under the hood), is there more I could be going after? I don't want a brand new car or anything, but surely I wouldn't mind if this gets sweetened, example: reasonable discount on whatever car I get next from them.
    Under the law if the dealer was negligent then what you are entitled to get is what it takes to put you back into the same position you were before the damage caused to your vehicle. i.e. the lesser of (1) what it would cost to restore your vehicle to the condition it was before the fire or (2) the fair market value of the vehicle immediately before the fire occurred. As you say it is totaled (which I assume means it cannot be repaired, at least not at a reasonable cost) what you are entitled to get is (2). If any personal items in the car were destroyed by the fire you would get the fair market value of those items as well. You may also get some reasonable amount for a car rental for a few days/weeks while you found a replacement vehicle to buy. That’s it. Note that if it had not been the dealer’s fault then the dealer would owe you nothing.

    What you are entitled to get from your insurance policy depends entirely on the terms of the policy you bought.

    Quote Quoting Callys
    View Post
    Also, the police officers gave the disclaimer that they were not arson investigators, but said that where they found the foreign material would surely indicate negligence.
    Legally speaking the opinion the officers is irrelevant. They are not experts on this sort of thing by their own admission and even if they were they would not be allowed in court to opine on whether the dealer was “negligent.” That is a legal conclusion left for the jury to make. All an expert may testify about is what caused the fire. As the officers are not experts and they did not see what happened these officers could not testify at all on this if it went to trial.

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