What Happens if I Collide with Another Car in a Car Wash?

Car being washed in a car wash.

You might think that the usual rules of liability do not apply if you have a collision with another car while in a car wash, but you could still go after money damages if someone else caused the crash through negligence.  An accident does not have to happen on a street for an injured person to have a claim for compensation. A New York car accident attorney can evaluate your situation and help you to hold the negligent party accountable for your losses. 

What We Have to Prove to Win a Personal Injury Case

Most personal injury cases have their basis in negligence law. In other words, someone else made a mistake and caused you to suffer harm. We have to show all four of these elements of liability to go after money damages in a negligence case:

  • Duty of care. The applicable duty of care will depend on whose carelessness caused the collision. Everyone who operates a motor vehicle has an obligation to drive cautiously and keep a proper lookout. That duty would apply to another driver. The car wash has a responsibility to maintain business premises that are reasonably safe for patrons.
  • Breach of duty. If another driver pressed on the gas pedal while inside the car wash either through inattention or recklessness, the driver breached the legal duty of care. The car wash can breach its legal duty if the car wash equipment malfunctioned or an employee was careless. When a person or entity fails to live up to a legal standard of conduct, it is negligence.
  • Causation. Whether the accident happened because of the careless action of the car wash facility or another driver, the negligence must be the thing that caused the collision.
  • Measurable damages. The accident must cause quantifiable losses, like medical bills for a physical injury. With a bodily injury, we can then pursue intangible damages, like pain and suffering.

Merely proving a few of these factors will not be sufficient to win your claim. We have to be able to show all four elements through evidence.

Who Could Be Liable for a Car Wash Collision?

If another vehicle runs into your car at a car wash, one or more people or entities could be responsible, depending on the facts of your situation. Let’s say that the person in the car behind you was texting while waiting to go through the car wash. He stepped on the accelerator without looking up and hit the back of your vehicle. That driver can be liable for your losses.

Sometimes, the car wash facility made an error that caused or contributed to an accident. For example, if your car is inside the facility, in neutral, and getting pulled through the car wash automatically, the car wash can be negligent for the acts of others. The employees might cram the cars too tightly together, or the equipment might lack safety features that would prevent vehicles from running into each other. The car wash owner might cut corners on inspections and routine maintenance of the facility and equipment. 

New York City’s 2015 Car Wash Accountability Act

In 2015, New York City passed a local law that requires all car washes to have a license and carry a surety bond. The Car Wash Accountability Act helps to protect people who get hurt in car washes in NYC. The Act attempts to shut down car washes with a negative track record of illegal or irresponsible conduct or financial mismanagement. Also, car washes have to post a $150,000 bond with the City of New York to cover judgments of people who sustain damages from the car wash services. 

We understand that it can be a little overwhelming to try to sort out the liability issues by yourself. You do not have to go through this experience alone. Contact us today. A New York Personal Injury Attorney can help you go after the compensation that you deserve.

Posted in: Automobile Accidents