Asked by user in Texas.
I traveled from Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico to drop off my daughter and my dad. As we entered Albuquerque, a very loud dragging sound began to start. When I came to a stop the grinding sound increased, so I naturally thought it was my brakes going out. I wanted to be assured that it wasn't my brakes since I had to travel back to Texas and I wanted to be safe.
I went to a Walmart auto center and asked them if they could look at my brakes. They looked at my car and said it was caused by the safety guard underneath coming apart and grinding on the pavement. Since the guard is a mixture of metal and plastic, they said it would cause a loud sound but the brakes are fine. They said it was nothing to worry about. I asked if it would cause damage to my brakes or damage the car at all and they said no.
I took their word for it and proceeded to go home. When I got to Texas, the brake pad on my passenger side fell out as I was backing out of the driveway. My rotor on the passenger side and calipers on the front end were completely shot. I probably spent over $600 on something that could have been a simple fix if they actually did their job. I could have hurt myself or someone else because the brakes ended up going out causing me to throw my emergency break on. I was told it was crazy that any of my brakes worked given that my brake hose on the driver side was leaking.
I don't have an invoice showing that I went to the Walmart in New Mexico, but I have witnesses and they do have cameras. Plus, I remember who looked at my car and I have my mechanic who is willing to speak. Do I have a case?
I'm sorry you were in that situation. Unfortunately, you likely dont have grounds for a lawsuit because the possibility of an injury happening doesn't give rise to a claim - you can only make a valid claim if an injury actually happened. The basis for a personal injury lawsuit is to be compensated for your losses related to the injury, and you'd need to prove that the injury happened and was caused by someone else's negligence.
In this instance, it's possible that the mechanic was negligent, but it doesn't sound like an injury occurred (financial or physical). Unfortunately, any financial loss that might be related to the work performed on your car will be hard to prove without an invoice. The business should maintain records, but without filing a lawsuit, it might be hard to compel them to give it to you.
If you believe that you've suffered a financial loss because the mechanic caused damage to your car, you might either return to the same mechanic and request that they fix it, request that they pay for additional work on your car by another mechanic, or seek to be reimbursed by a small claims court action.