What action can I take against the Service Center for damages caused to my car?
Any claim you may have relating to the damage to your window will likely be governed by contract law. The terms of your contract with the service center will generally determine your rights and obligations as well as those of the service center. You should carefully review the terms of the agreement, if you have a written agreement, to determine your rights and obligations. If you wish to use the legal system to resolve your dispute, you may want to review the following general information regarding contract law and breach of contract actions:
Contracts are agreements that are legally enforceable. A contract is an agreement between two parties that creates an obligation to do or refrain from doing a particular thing. The purpose of a contract is to establish the terms of the agreement by which the parties have fixed their rights and duties. An oral contract is an agreement made with spoken words and either no writing or only partially written. An oral contract may generally be enforced the same as a written agreement. However, it is much more difficult with an oral contract to prove its existence or the terms. Oral contracts also usually have a shorter time period within which a person seeking to enforce their contract right must sue. A written contract generally provides a longer time to sue than for breach of an oral contract. Contracts are mainly governed by state statutory and common (judge-made) law and private law. Private law generally refers to the terms of the agreement between the parties, as parties have freedom to override many state law requirements regarding formalities of contracts. Each state has developed its own common law of contracts, which consists of a body of jurisprudence developed over time by trial and appellate courts on a case-by-case basis.
An unjustifiable failure to perform all or some part of a contractual duty is a breach of contract. A legal action for breach of contract arises when at least one party's performance does not live up to the terms of the contract and causes the other party to suffer economic damage or other types of measurable injury. A lawsuit for breach of contract is a civil action and the remedies awarded are designed to place the injured party in the position they would be in if not for the breach. Remedies for contractual breaches are not designed to punish the breaching party. The five basic remedies for breach of contract include the following: money damages, restitution, rescission, reformation, and specific performance. A money damage award includes a sum of money that is given as compensation for financial losses caused by a breach of contract. Parties injured by a breach are entitled to the benefit of the bargain they entered, or the net gain that would have accrued but for the breach. The type of breach governs the extent of damages that may be recovered. Restitution is a remedy designed to restore the injured party to the position occupied prior to the formation of the contract. Parties seeking restitution may not request to be compensated for lost profits or other earnings caused by a breach. Instead, restitution aims at returning to the plaintiff any money or property given to the defendant under the contract. Plaintiffs typically seek restitution when contracts they have entered are voided by courts due to a defendant's incompetence or incapacity. Rescission is the name for the remedy that terminates the contractual duties of both parties, while reformation is the name for the remedy that allows courts to change the substance of a contract to correct inequities that were suffered. In order to have a rescission, both parties to the contract must be placed in the position they occupied before the contract was made. Courts have held that a party may rescind a contract for fraud, incapacity, duress, undue influence, material breach in performance of a promise, or mistake, among other grounds. Specific performance is an equitable remedy that compels one party to perform, as nearly as practicable, his or her duties specified by the contract. Specific performance is available only when money damages are inadequate to compensate the plaintiff for the breach
Promissory estoppel is a term used in contract law that applies where, although there may not otherwise be an enforceable contract, because one party has relied on the promise of the other, it would be unfair not to enforce the agreement. Promissory estoppel arises from a promise which the promisor should reasonably expect to induce action or forebearance of a definite and substantial character on the part of the promisee and which does induce such action or forebearance in binding if injustice can be avoided only by enforcement of the promise. Detrimental reliance is a term commonly used to force another to perform their obligations under a contract, using the theory of promissory estoppel. Promissory estoppel may apply when a promise was made; reliance on the promise was reasonable or foreseeable; there was actual and reasonable reliance on the promise; the reliance was detrimental; and injustice can only be prevented by enforcing the promise. Detrimental reliance must be shown to involve reliance that is reasonable, which is a determination made on an individual case-by-case basis, taking all factors into consideration. Detrimental means that some type of harm is suffered. Reasonable reliance is usually referred to as a theory of recovery in contract law. It was what a prudent person might believe and act upon based on something told by another. Sometimes a person acts in reliance on the promise of a profit or other benefit, only to learn that the statements or promises were either incorrect or were exaggerated. The one who acted to their detriment in reasonable reliance may recover damages for the costs of his/her actions or demand performance. Reasonable reliance connotes the use of the standard of ordinary and average person.
You may also consider filing a complaint in small claims court, which offers a quick, informal and inexpensive way of resolving many types of disputes. Small claims court is a legal court of law designed to resolve disputes involving relatively small amounts of money in an expeditious manner. Unlike other legal courts, small claims court does not operate by formal rules of evidence, and attorneys are not usually employed to plead such cases. Instead, plaintiffs and defendants appear before the court and present what evidence they have and their perspectives on the dispute. The court will notify plaintiffs of the date for their trials. Plaintiffs should request from the court clerk any available information that may help them with procedure (unless they have retained an attorney). Generally, plaintiffs are allowed to bring witnesses to testify in support of their claims. Some courts may accept affidavits (sworn statements) from persons who cannot appear in person; however, since the other side has no opportunity to "cross-examine" an absent witness, most courts will give only minor consideration to affidavits. The court makes a judgment based on the evidence presented.
The following are Virginia statutes:
§ 16.1-122.1. Small claims court; designated. —
On or before July 1, 1999, each general district court shall
establish, using existing facilities, a small claims division to be
designated a small claims court.
Such courts shall not have jurisdiction over suits against the
Commonwealth under the Virginia Tort Claims Act (§ 8.01-195 et seq.) or
suits against any officer or employee of the Commonwealth for claims
arising out of the performance of their official duties or
§ 16.1-122.2. Jurisdiction.
Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the
small claims court shall have jurisdiction, concurrent with
that of the general district court, over the civil action
specified in § 16.1-77 (1) when the amount claimed does
not exceed $5,000, exclusive of interest.
§ 16.1-122.3. Actions; how commenced; notice;
A. Actions in the small claims court shall be commenced by
the filing of a small claims civil warrant by a plaintiff.
B. At the time of filing a small claims civil warrant, the
plaintiff shall pay to the clerk a required fee, which will
be taxed as costs in the case. The plaintiff may be afforded
the opportunity to receive preprinted information promulgated
by the Committee on District Courts explaining the small
claims court, including but not limited to information on
case preparation, courtroom procedures, methods of
collection, removal rights and appeals. The plaintiff shall
select a time for the hearing which shall be held at least
five days after service of the warrant. Such time shall be
subject to concurrence by the clerk's office. The chief judge
may limit the number of cases any one person may set for
trial on any one date.
C. Upon the filing of the small claims civil warrant in
small claims court, the court shall cause notice of process
to be served upon the defendant. Notice of process shall
consist of a copy of the warrant and shall be served by the
method used in general district court. If applicable, the
defendant shall be served with a copy of the preprinted
information identified in subsection B of this
section attached to the copy of the civil warrant.
D. All forms required by this article shall be prescribed
by the Supreme Court of Virginia.
E. The trial shall be conducted on the first return date.
However, by consent of all parties or upon order of the
court, the time for trial may be changed from the time set
for the first return. A continuance shall be granted to
either the plaintiff or defendant only upon good cause shown.
F. There shall be no pleadings in small claims court
actions other than the warrant and answer, grounds of defense
and counterclaims not to exceed $5,000.
§ 16.1-122.4. Representation and removal; rights of parties. —
A. All parties shall be represented by themselves in actions before the
small claims court except as follows:
1. A corporate or partnership plaintiff or defendant may be represented
by an owner, a general partner, an officer or an employee of that
corporation or partnership who shall have all the rights and privileges
given an individual to represent, plead and try a case without an
attorney. An attorney may serve in this capacity if he is appearing pro
se, but he may not serve in a representative capacity.
2. A plaintiff or defendant who, in the judge's opinion, is unable to
understand or participate on his own behalf in the hearing may be
represented by a friend or relative if the representative is familiar
with the facts of the case and is not an attorney.
B. A defendant shall have the right to remove the case to the general
district court at any point preceding the handing down of the decision by
the judge and may be represented by an attorney for that purpose.
§ 16.1-122.5. Informal hearings; rules of evidence suspended. —
In trials before the small claims court, witnesses shall be sworn. The
general district court judge shall conduct the trial in an informal
manner so as to do substantial justice between the parties. The judge
shall have the discretion to admit all evidence which may be of probative
value although not in accordance with formal rules of practice,
procedure, pleading or evidence, except that privileged communications
shall not be admissible. The object of such trials shall be to determine
the rights of the litigants on the merits and to dispense expeditious
justice between the parties.
§ 16.1-122.6. Judgment and collection. —
The small claims court shall follow the procedures of the general
district court in judgment and collection.
§ 16.1-122.7. Appeals. —
Appeals from the small claims court shall be as in other cases from the
general district court.