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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3653
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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Compensation negligence?

Customer Question

Hello, I'd like to understand if I can claim compensation for criminal negligence or any other cause for compensation in this matter.

A lack of proper servicing of my car left me with a brake pad detector unplugged and cable tied. As a consequence my car degraded without warning to a stage of having no front brake pads and damaged front brake discs requiring immediate replacement.

I had therefore been driving on the road with a car that was 1) not legally roadworthy leaving me liable for prosecution in the event of an accident, 2) with voided car insurance due to defective brakes and 3) my life put in serious danger while on the motorway due to reliance on metal on metal breaking.

My car received a full service late last year and I believe my car being in that vulnerable state is entirely the responsibility of the company that last serviced my car, particularly as it was a full service. Either they unplugged and cable tied the wire but did not return it or failed to notice it was unplugged in the first place.

 

Is this criminal negligence? Apart from claiming the cost of repair, is there anything else I can seek compensation over? Such as distress and being forced into an illegal predicament?

 

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you for your question and welcome.
My name is ***** ***** I will assist you.
Did the company that negligently serviced the car pay for the repaid to the car when the problem was realised?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Alex.

I have yet to contact the company who did the service in regards ***** ***** situation.

I only had the issue confirmed with an inspection last week by Kwik Fit. I'm waiting for a more detailed report from them.

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
Under the English civil claims system you cannot claim for distress or claim compensation for the fact that you were put in harms way yet no damage or harm occurred. You can only claim for actual damage and loss.
If you want the service company to be sanctioned you should make a complaint to Trading Standards www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/ . They might award you compensation but they are more likely to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else.
You may however have separate claim under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. If the service company failed to provide the service with reasonable care and skill and this caused damage to your car you can claim for the loss you have suffered. When you obtain a detailed report from Kwik Fit and have an idea of your losses then you should seek to make a claim against the original servicing company.
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you, ***** ***** few follow-up questions:

Is there any right to claim for being forced into an illegal predicament that had me at risk of prosecution in an event of an accident? Driving ilegally. Driving with voided insurance.

>> Under the English civil claims system you cannot claim for distress

During this period I was forced to make an emergency brake and although no physical harm was done, it was a distressing situation to have the brakes perform so poorly and nearly hit the car ahead. I know it's grasping at straws but could I hypothetically claim distress here? Would be good to be able to mention something like that to give my overall claim more weight.

>> claim under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982

Thanks, ***** ***** also refer to this as breach of contract?

>> If the service company failed to provide the service with reasonable care and skill and this caused damage to your car you can claim for the loss you have suffered.

Can I also claim a refund for the actual service itself due to it being negligent?

And apart from obviously claiming for the replaced brake discs, could I also claim for the brake pads even though I would have needed new ones anyway? Reason being, I had to urgently go to the nearest place for inspection and missed the opportunity to price compare.

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
The risk of prosecution is not enough for a claim of compensation. Ultimately you were not prosecuted.
You cannot claim for distress - a court will not allow it. Trading Standards (as a regulator of effectively rogue trading practices) may offer some compensation in this regard, but you cannot sue for it.
Breach of the Supply of Goods and Service Act 1982 - Section 13 - is treated as an implied term so it would be treated as breach of contract.
Personally I would sue for a refund of the service - as far as you are concerned they might as well have not done the service so I would demand a refund if it were. It may be better to frame it as you will need to go and have the car re serviced in which case they should pay for the cost of the new service.
Again with the brake pads it is close to the line whether this is an actual loss or not, but I would try and claim them as well.
Kind regards
AJ
Alex J. and 3 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for all your help.

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
No problem.
I wish you the best of luck.
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Sorry, quick clarification in regards ***** ***** title.

Can I accuse them of criminal negligence or not?

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
I suppose you could make a complaint to the police - but you would some opinion from another mechanic that the way they did the service was negligent it was endangering lives.
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Cheers

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
I wish you the best of luck.
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I'm re-opening this ticket and will be happy to pay £18 bonus on the continuation of your help.

I have an update, can I provide this here?

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
No problem.
I am happy to assist.
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I contacted the company that last did a full service of my car and claimed for the full cost of their service as I need a reservice and the full cost of repairs due to their negligence in failing to notice the break sensor was unplugged.


They asked to inspect the damaged brakes that needed replacing, I couldn’t provide this. However, the manager of the Kwik Fit garage is willing to put in writing that the last company to fully service the car had an obligation to notice the break sensor was unplugged. They responded saying the manager would need to explicitly state their company as being responsible.


Although my car has only done 2.7k miles since, their service was 19 months ago and they are using that against me. I feel that they are going to constantly push back with my communications with them, can you help?


Here is latest email reply:


“Yet can the Manager state that we missed the Brake Sensor because without such a statement there is no evidence to support this


Respectfully ***** ***** we verify what may have occurred to the vehicle since 2013? Further to this without being provided either the opportunity to resolve when this issue was flagged nor the parts to inspect nor pictures to confirm explicitly what was noted by Kwik Fit we again have no opportunity to verify these very serious claims.


We must also make you aware you are under a legal obligation to keep any claim as small as is reasonably possible and this could have only been undertaken by allowing the Garage the opportunity to resolve if you believed they were at fault and such an opportunity was not provided.”

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

In regards ***** ***** last point, I actually wasn't allowed to leave the KwikFit garage due to the state of the breaks, so I certainly could not have gone back to their garage to resolve this.

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
I will review this and revert to you as soon as possible.
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks. I've been reading up on this company, they have a reputation of being argumentative with claims.

It would be great to respectfully ***** ***** to them that I'm not the type to get into an extended squabble over email and intend to pursue the matter through small claims if it cannot be resolved in good time. And perhaps worth mentioning a sanction with Trading Standards.

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
They are not correct that you are legally obliged to go and resolve the problem with them. You are entitled to try and mitigate your loss and as you have said Kwik fit would not let you leave.
Ultimately if it goes to court it is your word against theirs. To support you if you have some written statement from Kwik Fit confirming that the service was not done correctly this will help.
Going to Trading Standards would be the cheapest and most hassle free option but it may take a while.
To put this in to context how much have you actually asked them to repay?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

How i put it,

"Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, I am claiming a total sum of £931.53 based on a refund for your negligent service and subsequent damage that occurred as a result.

The full cost of brake-related repairs came to £395.25 based on the invoice from Kwik Fit, which has been sent to you. I am claiming the full invoice, including the brake pads, as I was not afforded the opportunity to price compare due to the urgency of the situation.

The cost of your service came to £536.28 as shown in the invoice you sent me. I am claiming the entirety of this invoice as the negligence and incompetence of this incident puts into question the credibility of the service, consequent advice and related charges. The lack of reasonable care and skill with your service has also left me needing a full re-service.

"

Before ending my communications, is it me worth me requesting as much documentation as possible to put them on the back foot? Such as engineer contact details, manager contact to verify engineer's competence. Employee guidelines for servicing, a full service signed report for my car, etc.

Also, am I legally required to warn them now that I intend to take legal action before starting a small claims process, if I do go down that route? If so, how?

And in your opinion, is the 19 month gap a strong defence for them even though only 2.7k miles has been covered between events?

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
You are required to give them a 7 day Letter before action before commencing court proceedings. This is just a notice to say you have a claim and give them time to pay.
If you use the money claim online process https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome if will explain in detail what to do.
As for the 19 month gap - technically you have 6 years to bring a claim - you can only bring the claim when you become aware of it, if this took 19 months then there is nothing you can do about that.
If you dont want the hassle of a court claim then go to Trading Standards. As I said it will be slow but they have the power to sanction the mechanic.
Your letter is good but I would try and make it more matter of fact and methodically try to to make too many allegations just a) you did not provide the service properly b) you were in breach of the 1982 Act c) I suffered a loss - please pay for the loss by return. Focus less on the negligence point and more on the lack of care and skill issue.
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks, ***** ***** your advice I have made revisions, please can you check over my full intended reply (last sentence bad idea?):

"The manager is willing to state that the last company to do a full service on the car missed the brake sensor. We know this to be your company, which is backed up by my stamp book and the fact only 2.7k miles is on record for those 19 months.

I am willing to put forward my stamp book and any other supporting documentation that one would reasonably be expected to be in possession of to verify what occurred to the vehicle in the mentioned time frame.

I was not legally obliged to resolve this problem with your company and I am entitled to try and mitigate my loss. I would also note that the Kwik Fit visit was an emergency inspection at the nearest garage to my location at the time. Once the damage was reviewed and required repairs identified, they insisted I not use the vehicle. This is a comment I took very seriously with respect to my safety and that of others. I was therefore not afforded the opportunity to price compare or visit your garage.

Please can you disclose the following material at the earliest:

1) The name and contact details of the engineer who worked on my car.
2) The name and contact details of the supervisor on that day.
3) If different from above, the name and contact details of the manager on that day.
4) The schedule of engineer’s work for that day.
5) The guidelines you ask your garages to follow when it comes to a full service.
6) The full service report signed by the engineer stating exactly what was checked and subsequent work done.
7) The full MOT report signed by the engineer stating what was checked and its conclusions.

In reference to your earlier email, let me clarify the breakdown of my claim. Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, I am claiming a total sum of £931.53 based on a refund for your service and subsequent damage that occurred as a result.

The full cost of brake-related repairs came to £395.25 based on the invoice from Kwik Fit, which has been sent to you. I am claiming the full invoice, including the brake pads, as I was not afforded the opportunity to price compare due to the urgency of the situation.

The cost of your service came to £536.28 as shown in the invoice you sent me. I am claiming the entirety of this invoice due to the lack of reasonable care and skill with your service leaving my car needing a full re-service.

I have taken legal counsel and remain confident with the strength of my case, and will pursue vehemently."

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
That looks good to me. I would only note, and I know we discussed this previously - if they dont give you the whole cost of the service back I would not push too hard on this. You would have had to have a service anyway so bare in mind they may have some argument to say it was not actually a loss - it is worth making the claim though and forcing them to argue otherwise.
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you, ***** ***** bonus as promised.

Looks like that reply has caused them to reevaluate - no argumentative response but one saying they will review.

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
Excellent news. I wish you the best of luck.
I will be offline now until 5pm so please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further points to discuss form this.
Thank you kindly for the bonus.
Kind regards
AJ