Visitor Question

What to do about negligence causing my car’s mechanical fire?

Submitted By: Raquel (San Diego, California)

There was a warning light on my dashboard of my Jeep Patriot, so I brought it in for service. The worker said the problem was the electric throttle. He said he changed the parts and I picked it up in two days.

I had to return it the next day because there was something burning, smoking under the hood after I drove for 5 miles. He looked at it and found nothing. I insisted there was something burning but he said I was good to go.

I went to work that day and as soon as I got to my job’s parking lot the smoke was intense, until it was a big flame that consumed the whole front before the fire truck got there. I strongly believe the mechanic has something to do with this fire. I want to know my right how to get justice. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Raquel,

Based on the facts, it appears the electrical shop was responsible for the damage to your car.

In an effort to seek compensation for the repairs to your car, the cost of a rental while your car is being properly repaired (if applicable), and any other reasonable expenses incurred as a result of the damage to your car, you will need to follow a few steps.

Begin by taking multiple photos of the car including the engine compartment. Try to identify the area where the smoke and fire originated. Take additional photos of the interior and exterior of the car. Make sure to take a photo of the license plate within in a full shot of the Jeep.

Speak with the firefighters. Ask then for a copy of any report(s) they created regarding the fire. If the fire department is a governmental agency (city, town, or village), you have a right to such a copy.

Drive or tow your car to Jeep dealer. Ask them to identify the problem and repair it. (From what you have included in your question, it can be fairly presumed the Electrical Shop will not admit its mistake and compensate you accordingly). Be sure to request a detailed copy of the work performed and its cost.

Next, submit the repair bill to the electrical shop. Ask them to pay the bill immediately. If they refuse, consider suing the company in one of San Diego’s Small Claims Courts.

While you have the option to retain an attorney, you can actually pursue the lawsuit by yourself. California Small Claims Courts have jurisdiction to hear claims of up to $10,000.

Learn more here: Car Accident Property Damage Claims

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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