Dealer Totals Customers Car, Denies Responsibility

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Image for article titled An SUV Was Left At The Dealer For Service And Was Totaled. Now The Owner Is Wanting To Know Who Is Responsible

Screenshot: Click2Houston/Jalopnik

We trust dealerships to take care of our cars when we leave them in their care. You trust that not only will the service be done right, but also that no one is goofing off in your car somewhere. As local Houston NBC affiliate Click 2 Houston reports, one owner found out that that trust can be misplaced.

Image for article titled An SUV Was Left At The Dealer For Service And Was Totaled. Now The Owner Is Wanting To Know Who Is Responsible

Screenshot: Click 2 Houston/Jalopink

The owner, Tiffany Walker, contacted the station after the incident. Walker bought a brand new 2020 Ford Escape from Tomball Ford in Tomball, TX (a Houston suburb) in December. A bit later, she took the crossover back to the dealer for its first service, which included an oil change. When she went back to go pick it up, it was totaled. Walked said she was shocked. “I couldn’t believe it. And then I immediately became angry.” I would’ve become angry too, and punchy.

The dealer immediately denied everything, but not in the way you think. They fessed up, admitting a mechanic had taken the car out, but that someone else hit it and they were at fault.

Walker said Tomball Ford employees were defensive, telling her while their mechanic was driving the vehicle during some repairs another driver failed to yield the right of way. That driver turned in front of the mechanic causing him to hit her vehicle. The police report supports that and assigns all blame to the other driver.

Things got interesting when the driver of the other vehicle’s insurance, Allstate, got involved. Walker was instructed by the dealer to contact them as they informed her they wouldn’t be taking care of anything. Allstate however placed blame on both drivers: 70 percent on their client and 30 percent on the dealer’s mechanic adding that the mechanic “could have avoided hitting the other driver but was likely speeding or distracted.”

The dealer did provide Walker with a rental for almost a month. Beyond that, they have refused to be responsible. As a lawyer that spoke with the station said, Walker can’t be responsible simply because she wasn’t driving. Had the mechanic not left the dealership in the car, the accident wouldn’t have happened. As Texas has proportional liability — it lets insurance companies place blame on multiple drivers in an accident — this could get ugly. As the lawyer mentioned, Walker’s best move is to try and file a claim with her own insurance or risk a long drawn-out fight with the dealer.

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