What do I do if the auto body shop made my car WORSE than before the accident?

by Tom Zoebelein - Fri, May 9, 2014 2:03 PM

Q: I recently had a car vandalized and the estimate came to $4,916 worth of damage.

I found a small local body shop that would paint the car within the amount authorized by the insurance company. Since I was going to have to get my car repainted anyway, I asked the body shop how much it would cost out of pocket to get it painted slightly differently. I wanted to add a second color for a two tone.

The body shop told me that it would stay within the price range and agreed to have the car back to me within four days.

A week later when I went to pick up the car, I was devastated! The car was not painted properly and there was significant damage done to the exterior of the car.

The top part of the car was not sanded and was just painted over the existing stock color. We knew this because the black paint was already chipping off around the windows. The windows have marks where the body shop slipped numerous times with a sander and I do not think there is anything we can do to repair them other than to buy new ones.

The mirrors, taillights, headlights and rims all have over spray and sander marks on them.

The lower part of the car looks very matte, not glossy like it was before. There are sanding marks everywhere and the key marks are still very visible. The dings were filled but not sanded properly which is noticeable along with a dent he apparently added while removing one. The paint has bubbles and runs in it and there is dirt in the paint. The door jams were not painted, under the hood was not painted and there is paint on the black stock running boards.

The body shop told us to take the car back, and they would strip and repaint the car, but we are leery of returning the vehicle to them.

The body shop has already been paid directly by the insurance company and now they are telling us that there is nothing they can do because I did not choose a Direct Repair Facility.

So what recourse do I have now?


While we always recommend that you fully et your body shop and search for one with a written warranty, not everybody follows this advice. Often people will get an estimate from one shop, get a claim check and then go searching for a cheaper body shop to do the work in the hope of pocketing some money. This often leads to sad stories like the one above.

If the body shop offered a written warranty or has one on their website, check the wording. Shops that stand behind their work and have written warranties are legally bound to honor those agreements. So the first course of action is to document everything, inform your insurance company and try to resolve the issue with the auto body shop.

Your second course of action would be to contact your insurance company and discuss with them the need to take the car to a second shop to rectify this new set of issues. Your insurance policy is a legal and binding contract to “fully indemnify” you.

In legal terms, to indemnify means to protect a party from suffering any losses. Indemnity is a form of compensation for losses or damages, often in relation to a legal contract. The term refers to both the pre-loss guarantee of compensation and the compensation itself.

An insurer indemnifies a policy-holder by guaranteeing that the insurer will cover any losses related to certain events. If the policy-holder suffers this loss, the insurer repays the policy holder the costs associated with the loss.

You are also protected by the insurance policy to restore your car to pre-loss condition. The fact that your car is now worse than before should not effect this situation, as your car should still be covered with your policy.

Now this all varies by state, but in most states, you could be covered even if you have to take the car to another shop to fix the new damages from the first body shop. But you will need to check with your State Insurance regulations to find out what your protections are.

If you are still getting push back or hitting a dead end with your Insurance company, your last resort will be to file a lawsuit. Because this suit would likely name the Insurance company and the body shop, and would involve the collection of money for damages, you might be able to find an attorney who will take the case on a contingency, meaning no out of pocket expenses to you until you collect. This of course will take quite some time to find a resolution, so be forewarned that it is not going to be a swift rectification for you.