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  1. #1
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    Default Can't Find an Attorney to Help with Insurance Bad Faith and Failure to Honor Warranty

    My question involves an accident that occurred in the state of: California

    My 2016 Honda CRV (under warranty) was hit by a deer in California in September of 2019; I was not injured but the deer strike did significant damage to the front end of the car. The car was repaired by a body shop in Monterey, California under a claim to my insurer, Geico. (The body shop is part of a network of body shops called CARSTAR.) The repair was completed in early October 2019 and came with a one-year warranty. In June of 2020 I experienced a sudden seize-up of the car's engine in Yuma, Arizona, where I live. The local Honda dealer found the body shop's repair to be defective; the body shop had not properly installed the main radiator hose. The hose came off while I was driving on the freeway, causing a sudden loss of all of the engine's coolant, which in turn ruined the engine. Estimate to replace the engine $8-10,000.

    It has now been more than four months since the seize-up incident and repairs to my car (engine replacement) have not begun. The body shop refuses to honor their warranty, and Geico refuses to honor my claim. The damage to my car is in the neighborhood of $10,000 and the costs to me of not being able to operate the car during the past four months are significantly more than that.

    I have not been able to find an attorney to assist me with this case. I feel this situation is beyond the scope and payout limits of small claims courts.
    Accident attorneys only want to deal with injury accidents, and I have not found a bad faith or consumer protection attorney who will even discuss the situation. I don't even know if this case is best handled by a California attorney or an Arizona-based attorney. Any advice or referrals to an appropriate law firm would be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Bob

  2. #2
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Can't Find an Attorney to Help with Insurance Bad Faith and Failure to Honor Warr

    Some things you need to know.

    1 - Unless GEICO expressly warranted the repairs this has nothing to do with GEICO. The failure of the hose and subsequent damage to the engine are not covered by your auto policy. Read the part of the policy that covers damage to your car and you'll see Collision (this isn't) and the following listed causes of damage: Missiles or falling objects, Fire, Theft or Larceny, Explosion or Earthquake, Windstorm, Hail, Water, Flood, Malicious Mischief or Vandalism, Riot or Civil Commotion, Contact with Bird or Animal or Breakage of Glass. Your damage is not caused by any of those.

    2 - The Carstar's website refers to a warranty but does not provide the text. If you want to discuss its terms please find a hosting site, post a copy and provide the link.

    3 - This is more than likely a contract issue rather than bad faith. My guess is that the claim is denied due to a warranty issue. That's not necessarily bad faith and if you pursue bad faith you'll be tilting at windmills because bad faith lawsuits are complicated and costly. You'll spend a lot more than the $10,000 on it only to find out that there's no bad faith, only breach of contract if there even is a breach of contract.

    4 - As for finding a lawyer, any business lawyer can handle a contracts dispute providing you are willing to pay his fees. If you've been looking for a contingency lawyer for a warranty issue, you'll have better luck searching for a unicorn.

    Back to your post.

    The body shop refuses to honor their warranty,
    Why?

    They must have given you a reason. What did they say?

    How many miles had you driven the car in the 8 months between the repair and the failure of the radiator hose?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Can't Find an Attorney to Help with Insurance Bad Faith and Failure to Honor Warr

    Small claims limit in CA is $10,000, so, if the cost to fix the problem is $8k-$10k, it is within the small claims limit.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Can't Find an Attorney to Help with Insurance Bad Faith and Failure to Honor Warr

    Quote Quoting bobc4764
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    [My insurer] refuses to honor my claim.
    What would make you think you would have an insurance claim here?


    Quote Quoting bobc4764
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    The damage to my car is in the neighborhood of $10,000 and the costs to me of not being able to operate the car during the past four months are significantly more than that.
    You had and have a duty to mitigate damages - either by paying for the repairs yourself or obtaining alternate transportation.


    Quote Quoting bobc4764
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    I don't even know if this case is best handled by a California attorney or an Arizona-based attorney. Any advice or referrals to an appropriate law firm would be appreciated.
    First of all, you would need a California attorney because that's where the alleged negligent repairs occurred. That you happened to be in Arizona when the car broke down is of no relevance to that issue. Second, nothing in your post suggests you have any sort of claim against your auto insurer. You have a fairly simple breach of warranty claim against either the body shop or the company that issued the warranty.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Can't Find an Attorney to Help with Insurance Bad Faith and Failure to Honor Warr

    Adjusterjack thanks for your response. My thoughts:

    Unless GEICO expressly warranted the repairs this has nothing to do with GEICO
    I would think that the claim I have against Geico is that they didn't honor my original claim; the repair shop that they sent me to didn't perform a successful repair. I would have thought it to be Geico's responsibility to ensure that my claim was honored.

    If you want to discuss its terms please find a hosting site, post a copy and provide the link.
    I will do this as soon as I can.

    This is more than likely a contract issue rather than bad faith.
    I hope that's true; it would make my effort to find an attorney much easier. I was advised to look for bad faith attorneys by an admin for a law firm, not a lawyer. I'd much rather have business attorney address this issue.

    As for finding a lawyer, any business lawyer can handle a contracts dispute providing you are willing to pay his fees.
    That might be true in theory, but I've encountered many lawyers that don't want to work on a per hour fee basis; they're looking for big payout cases. Nevertheless I would expect to have an easier search for a per hour fee arrangement if I'm looking for a business lawyer as opposed to a personal injury attorney.

    If you've been looking for a contingency lawyer for a warranty issue, you'll have better luck searching for a unicorn.
    Nah, I've always intended to pay an attorney for his or her time. The trick is to just get one to talk to me; that hasn't happened yet.

    Why? They must have given you a reason. What did they say?
    Most of my communication with the body shop has happened through the Honda dealer. The body shop owner never said specifically why they're not authorizing the repair, but it's clear they're trying to establish that the incident was not their fault. Unfortunately for them, the Honda dealer has established pretty clearly that the radiator hose was not installed properly and that the engine is ruined as a result. At one point they were trying to assign the responsibility to me, but I had no warning before the car died. You can tell the body shop is just trying to worm out of their responsibility. They didn't even bother to respond to our attempts to contact them until after they'd had the info for three weeks. During that time, I and the Honda dealer were interacting mostly with Geico, which claimed that they couldn't send out an inspector promptly due to Covid. More recently, the Geico adjuster isn't even answering our phone calls.

    How many miles had you driven the car in the 8 months between the repair and the failure of the radiator hose?
    I don't know, but I suspect it was on the order of 5,000 miles; I was working from home even before Covid hit and not driving much. I will try to get an accurate number.

    Thanks again for your response.

    Bob




    pg1067 thanks for your response. My thoughts:

    What would make you think you would have an insurance claim here?
    Simply because the repairs that failed were done under my original accident claim. So it seems I should have a claim that Geico didn't honor my original claim. Notwithstanding that concept I was basically hoping that Geico would act as my agent and make the body shop follow through with honoring their warranty, because in a sense, the body shop was working for Geico, not just me. But I get the legal interpretation that the body shop's warranty is a contract between the body shop and me, not Geico.

    First of all, you would need a California attorney because that's where the alleged negligent repairs occurred. That you happened to be in Arizona when the car broke down is of no relevance to that issue. Second, nothing in your post suggests you have any sort of claim against your auto insurer. You have a fairly simple breach of warranty claim against either the body shop or the company that issued the warranty.
    Yes, that all makes sense now. Thanks for the tips and clarifications!

    Bob

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Can't Find an Attorney to Help with Insurance Bad Faith and Failure to Honor Warr

    Simply because the repairs that failed were done under my original accident claim. So it seems I should have a claim that Geico didn't honor my original claim. Notwithstanding that concept I was basically hoping that Geico would act as my agent and make the body shop follow through with honoring their warranty, because in a sense, the body shop was working for Geico, not just me. But I get the legal interpretation that the body shop's warranty is a contract between the body shop and me, not Geico.
    Without an express warranty from GEICO, GEICO's only obligation to you was to pay the cost of your repairs. That's it. That GEICO recommended the shop doesn't make GEICO a guarantor of the shop's work. You could have used any repair shop.

    Bob, I think you should be dealing personally with the owner of the shop. It's probably a locally owned franchise. You're wasting your time with GEICO and the dealer. If you don't get satisfaction from the owner, write it up on Yelp and consider a lawsuit.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Can't Find an Attorney to Help with Insurance Bad Faith and Failure to Honor Warr

    Quote Quoting bobc4764
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    I would think that the claim I have against [the insurer] is that [it] didn't honor my original claim; the repair shop that [it] sent me to didn't perform a successful repair. I would have thought it to be [the insurer's] responsibility to ensure that my claim was honored.
    Nope. Your insurer's obligation is to pay for the repairs in excess of your deductible. It did that. Any breach of the repair shop's warranty is between you and the shop.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Can't Find an Attorney to Help with Insurance Bad Faith and Failure to Honor Warr

    pg1067 thanks again for your feedback. Your point clarifies the situation and makes it simpler to deal with.

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