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Auto Insurance Claims/Valet Parking Damaged my car in Los Angeles



Before I start the explanation, I just bought a brand new BMW 5 series, a $60,000 car with no license plate, BLACK color, with fresh car wash less than a week ago.

Well 2 days ago, on Nov 28th approximately around 12PM, my girlfriend and I went to one of our favorite restaurants in LA to have lunch. When I pulled up to the parking lot where the restaurant is located, I was greeted by a gentleman who had normal clothing on. No Valet Parking uniform, no valet parking kiosk, no signs that shows this is a legitimate valet company operating. Anyways, I get out of the car, give him my keys and walk in to the restaurant.

40 minutes later, I finish lunch with my Girlfriend, walk out and see a similiar (well same car) black BMW parked near the entrance of the restaurant I exited from. Thousands of people drive a Black BMW in Los Angeles so I passed by that car thinking, "Wow what a nasty scratch on the rear bumper of that car" and hand over my valet parking ticket to the parking attendant. 5 seconds later, he reaches for my car key from the little key box and unlocks it from where he was, only to realize that the car with the nasty scratch on the back was my BMW!

So I called the valet guy to my car, I show him the visible scratch which went in really deep in to the paint only to hear "I dont know what that damage is" "I didnt do it".

I read enough on internet to NOT move my vehicle but rather want to speak to the manager/owner of the company. I walk in to the restaurant, where I ate from, explained the situation to the owner and she gladly provided me the Valet Parking Owner's personal cell phone #.

When this "owner" arrives, he checks out my car, explains to him that his worker has never had an accident for long as he can remember and that he highly doubts it was his worker that damaged my car. He then goes to his car, opens the trunk, bring a can of spray and a rag, sprays the location of the damage and tries to wipe it down with the rag he had. The residue, which seemed to have come from a concrete block or something has been wiped off but the deep scratch is still there.

He tells me that one of the business locations has a CCTV that faces the parking lot and that they will be able to review the camera and see what has exactly happened.

He told me that he will reach out to that business on Monday because only owners have access to the CCTV and told me will get back to me.

I also asked nicely of his business information, such as the valet companys name, the applicable permits, insurance and etc. He told me he would provide that later on, and told me not to hesitate to him for the information. It's been 3 days, I sent him txt messages requesting such information and yet he has not provided.

I have already made a claims to my insurance claim as a notice of Loss and I am planning to take this to small claims court.

I didnt make the mistake if discovering the damage AFTER I drove off the lot but rather discovered it before, inside that parking lot.

I also believe, if such big scratch was visible, the valet should've notified the customer (esp when its a brand new car over $60K) saying there is a big scratch in the back, are you aware? type of question.

The owner seems to be dodging my calls and avoiding on providing his companies information. Do I have a chance at small claims court in Los Angeles?

Hi John,

Unfortunately, it appears you have a he said, they said situation. In order to be successful in court you would need to have actual proof that the car was damaged by the valet. Simply stating it was not damaged when you got there and it was damaged when you came out is not sufficient evidence to win in court. You would need to need to have an eye witness or the video from the CCTV camera that shows what happened. Otherwise all they need to say is the damage was likely there before but you never noticed or someone else passed by and caused the scratch.

I hope this helps.

Richard Hixenbaugh  

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Richard Hixenbaugh


Auto insurance claims procedure, auto coverage, liability issues, auto damage questions, how to deal with the insurance company, loss of use and diminished value.


I have been involved in the insurance industry for over 25 years. I have experience in underwriting, sales, claims adjusting, auto damage estimating, auto value appraising and diminished value appraising. I have testified as an expert witness over 35 times.

Society of Certified Auto Appraisers

Completed all required courses for the Florida Property-Casualty agents license and the Florida claims adjusters license. I have attended various courses on auto damage estmating, vehicle appraising and am ASE certified in collision damage analysis.

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