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

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Question
Hello,

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?

Answer
You have a chance.  You need to research BAILEE FOR HIRE and you need to be able to prove the scratch was not there before you had the vehicle "valet'ed".  The company's defense will be just that, that the damage was there before they took control of the vehicle, and the burden to prove otherwise will be on you.  Witnesses that can say it had no damage, photos that show no damage, and circumstantial evidence like if there is concrete anywhere they could have hit that you can document and the date and time you purchased vehicle to show you barely had it long enough to scratch it, etc. . .  you will need a good estimate of the repair cost, too.

I hope this helps, don't give up.  Persistence is key.  Make written demands and offers of settlement.

Regards,
Justin Petty

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Justin Petty

Expertise

Challenge me! I promise that I will provide you with the most honest answer I can muster, and I will base it on nearly 20 years of complex claims experience. My strength is shooting it straight and seeing through BS. I do not bluff and I can tell when somebody is. I've handled claims in almost every State in the U.S. and adjusted claims and consulted attorneys and CEO's on recovery and special claims tactics for over a decade. I am the founder and President of Petty Details, LLC. We provide the highest quality claim services to insurance companies, attorneys and individuals all exactly in the same way, by paying attention to the details and doing the right thing.

Experience

Nearly 20 years of combined claim company management, litigation, all lines adjusting, claim auditing, damage assessment, subrogation, small claims, tort recovery, collection, skip-tracing, tactical investigations, and contribution claim recovery experience across the United States of America.

Organizations
NASP (National Association of Subrogation Professionals) AllExperts.com (Auto Insurance Expert) Diminished Value Appraisers Group (LinkedIn)

Publications
10 years experience in writing and developing technical claims correspondence for litigation and unique scenarios at insurance companies and as a consultant to attorneys assisting with legal briefs and research. 42 published articles relating to auto insurance and claims. Self Published e-books entitled "How Much is My Injury Worth" and "Diminished Value - How Do I Get Paid?".

Education/Credentials
School of hard knocks, 3 years college, NO DEGREE, years of real world experience running a claims service company and adjusting claims for carriers. Speaks English and Spanish, Limited Portuguese & Italian.

Awards and Honors
Platinum Author (EzineArticles.com) All Lines Adjuster (TX, 1998 - 2008) TX Public Adjuster (2009 - 2011)

Past/Present Clients
State Farm Insurance, Endeavor GA, MileMeter Ins., American Recreational Markets, Gainsco Ins. Co., Safeway Ins., Home State County Mutual Insurance, Old American County Mutual Insurance, FCCI, Farm Bureau, Liberty Mutual, and Pronto General Agency, LTD just to name a few! On top of insurance companies and attorneys, I have personally helped thousands of accident victims with the difficult and stressful process of navigating their claim to a successful resolution.

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