Who is liable when a vehicle is damaged during repairs & services?
A panel beater, mechanic or dealership is responsible for any damage to your vehicle whilst in their possession for repairs or service. In fact, this even includes instances of theft, where your vehicle is stolen from the service or repair centre premises.
This protection stems from Section 65(2) of The Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008, which specifically provides that when a supplier has possession of property belonging to or ordinarily under the control of a consumer, the supplier –
(a) Must not treat the property as being the property of the supplier;
(b) In the handling, safeguarding and utilisation of the property, must exercise the degree of care, diligence and skill that can reasonably be expected of a person responsible for managing any property belonging to another person; and
(c) Is liable to the owner of the property for any loss resulting from failing to comply with paragraph (a) or (b).
What if you signed a disclaimer?
Most service centres display large disclaimers indicating that vehicles are left on the premises at the customer’s own risk. However, the panel beater, mechanic or dealership cannot evade responsibility by relying on these disclaimers.
The owner is entitled to recover the current value of the vehicle, along with interest if payment is not made immediately, plus any legal costs incurred to obtain payment from the panel beater, mechanic or dealership.