Is a Business Responsible For Damage? - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Is a Business Responsible For Damage?

Posted: Updated:

If you take your clothes to a dry cleaner, use a valet to park your car, or take it to a car wash, they have signs and receipts that say they are not responsible if they damage your property. But is that true? It's why one South Florida woman put in a call to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

WSVN -- Helene Harris: "And was a beautiful car, still is a beautiful car."

This is Helene's car and since she has owned it for 10 years, to her it is more than a vehicle.

Helene Harris: "I like my boat. It sails very very well. Everything is good, battery is good, tires good, it's been taken care of."

A nice, 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis with 60,000 miles on it and when it got dirty a few days ago, Helene took it to a car wash.

Helene Harris: "I didn't think anything of it. Sitting there reading a magazine, look up and there comes a car with the whole top flying around."

Now Helene's vinyl top was not in perfect shape and was clearly starting to show its age. But she counters, it was in one piece and looked nice to her. Till it came out of the car wash shredded and flapping like a birds wing in the breeze, an employee walked over to her.

Helene Harris: "He said our blowers are very strong and probably just blew the top away and the water but it's an old car, your insurance will probably cover it."

Helene said her insurance wouldn't cover it and shouldn't have to cover it. That the car was the car wash's responsible...

Helene Harris: "I said you must have insurance, we are not doing anything. Asked him to give me the name of his insurance company, he said no."

The employee said they were not responsible for the tops ripping open. Repeating what a sign at the entrance to the car wash says, that they aren't responsible for everything from antennas to loose molding to damage due to negligence.

Helene Harris: "He said probably it was cracked or whatever and it couldn't take the blower. If you looked and saw something you shouldn't have put it through your machine, that to me is my logic."

The car wash refused to give in and pay. Helene refused to give in and give up.

Helene Harris: "I would like them to make some type of settlement with me. Admit responsibility. Say you know what probably shouldn't have put it through."

Neither side will budge, so let the law decide. Howard, the vinyl top is ten years old and not in perfect shape but it was not shredded when it got to the car wash. So if a car wash damages your vehicle, who is responsible?

Howard Finkelstein: "Legally, it depends. The law calls this abalement and that means when you give your property to a business, they must use reasonable care to protect your property and if it gets damaged, the law presumes they are responsible. But in this case, if they can prove that the top was defective or worn, then they are not responsible at all."

We talked to the owner of the car wash who told us the vinyl top was clearly showing its age and he didn't think he should have to pay the $1,200 to replace it.

However, he's obviously a good honest business owner. He offered to give Helene half, $600 to buy a new vinyl roof.

Howard says that's fair.

Howard Finkelstein: "And the reason I think it's fair is because that top was 10 years old. If you went to court, a judge might rule it was not the car washes fault and Helene gets nothing. So half is better than taking a chance and maybe ending up with zero."

Helene Harris: "My next step is to have it repaired. Replaced."

Helene will take the $600 from the car wash owner to replace the vinyl top to keep her old treasure, looking good.

Helene Harris: "All of you and your team, you helped me. I am happy with what I have."

Patrick Fraser: "Now the car wash, like many businesses, has a sign that says they aren't responsible for almost everything. Howard says, that in most cases, the sign doesn't matter and won't protect the business. Just because they say they aren't responsible doesn't make it so.

Hopes of solving your problem getting washed away? Don't want things to go down the drain? Let us clean things up and leave your future nice and shiny.

With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:

E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)|

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com

Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN

Broward: 954-761-WSVN

  • Out for JusticeMore>>

  • Qualecia James

    Qualecia James

    Friday, July 11 2014 11:30 PM EDT2014-07-12 03:30:24 GMT
    Qualecia James (right) and her daughterQualecia James (right) and her daughter
    Last March, an afternoon out with friends ended in a barrage of bullets for a pregnant Miami Gardens mother. As Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out for Justice, detectives made an arrest in the case last week, but their work is far from over, and they need your help to bring in the rest of the killers.
    Last March, an afternoon out with friends ended in a barrage of bullets for a pregnant Miami Gardens mother. As Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out for Justice, detectives made an arrest in the case last week, but their work is far from over, and they need your help to bring in the rest of the killers.
  • Benoit Lessard

    Benoit Lessard

    Monday, June 16 2014 11:13 AM EDT2014-06-16 15:13:54 GMT
    He bought his little spot in the sun. Retired Canadian Benoit Lessard loved to spend winters in South Florida, but as Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out for Justice, a man with a gun turned his retirement heaven into hell. Fifteen years later, police are still trying to solve this cold case.
    He bought his little spot in the sun. Retired Canadian Benoit Lessard loved to spend winters in South Florida, but as Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out for Justice, a man with a gun turned his retirement heaven into hell. Fifteen years later, police are still trying to solve this cold case.
  • Annette Anderson/TJ Walker

    Annette Anderson/TJ Walker

    Friday, May 16 2014 11:29 PM EDT2014-05-17 03:29:52 GMT
    Annette Anderson, TJ WalkerAnnette Anderson, TJ Walker
    Annette Anderson was a 69-year-old minister. TJ Walker was her 20-year-old grandson who had come to live with her while he went to school. And then, evil came through their door. As Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out for Justice, one arrest has been made, and with your help, there could be more to come.
    Annette Anderson was a 69-year-old minister. TJ Walker was her 20-year-old grandson who had come to live with her while he went to school. And then, evil came through their door. As Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out for Justice, one arrest has been made, and with your help, there could be more to come.
  • 7News InvestigationMore>>

  • Captain of Controversy

    Captain of Controversy

    Capt. Francesco SchettinoCapt. Francesco Schettino
    In Italy this week, the captain of the Costa Concordia began pre-trial hearings he hopes will convince a judge that the deadly shipwreck was an accident and not a crime. Earlier this year, investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero traveled to Italy for an exclusive interview with Captain Schettino and now has a special assignment report on what he will be telling the court.
    In Italy this week, the captain of the Costa Concordia began pre-trial hearings he hopes will convince a judge that the deadly shipwreck was an accident and not a crime. Earlier this year, investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero traveled to Italy for an exclusive interview with Captain Schettino and now has a special assignment report on what he will be telling the court.
  • Till Death Do Us Part

    Till Death Do Us Part

    Thursday, November 7 2013 11:54 PM EST2013-11-08 04:54:26 GMT
    Alejandra Apraez said her wedding was ruined when the florist she hired did not show up. Alejandra Apraez said her wedding was ruined when the florist she hired did not show up.
    There is very little that will match a bride's wedding day -- a day, months, even years in the planning -- and one South Florida woman's wedding was ruined when the florist didn't show up. Why? A death ... but was there a death? Tonight, investigative reporter Patrick Fraser has the amazing story in a report we call "Till Death Do Us Part."
    There is very little that will match a bride's wedding day -- a day, months, even years in the planning -- and one South Florida woman's wedding was ruined when the florist didn't show up. Why? A death ... but was there a death? Tonight, investigative reporter Patrick Fraser has the amazing story in a report we call "Till Death Do Us Part."
  • Blackwater Fever

    Blackwater Fever

    It was a terrible form of malaria that killed two men. Turning their internal organs black. In south Florida we have almost wiped malaria out but now the concern -- it's spreading around us and could hit us. As...
    It was a terrible form of malaria that killed two men. Turning their internal organs black. In south Florida we have almost wiped malaria out but now the concern -- it's spreading around us and could hit us. As Patrick...
  • Help Me HowardMore>>

  • Found Savings Bonds, Can't Find Owner

    Found Savings Bonds, Can't Find Owner

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 10:57 PM EDT2014-07-24 02:57:35 GMT
    It's what some people dream about: finding an envelope filled with money. One South Florida woman did find it in a parking lot, but she wasn't dreaming of riches. She was determined to find the owner. She couldn't, so she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
    It's what some people dream about: finding an envelope filled with money. One South Florida woman did find it in a parking lot, but she wasn't dreaming of riches. She was determined to find the owner. She couldn't, so she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
  • Finding a Burglar

    Finding a Burglar

    Monday, July 21 2014 11:39 PM EDT2014-07-22 03:39:48 GMT
    Loretta Clark's diamond necklace.Loretta Clark's diamond necklace.
    When his wife passed away, he was devastated. Today he feels even worse, because a necklace she loved, that was left for him, was stolen by a crook who broke into his home. So many people in South Florida are crime victims, but what can you do? It's why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
    When his wife passed away, he was devastated. Today he feels even worse, because a necklace she loved, that was left for him, was stolen by a crook who broke into his home. So many people in South Florida are crime victims, but what can you do? It's why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
  • Still Paying Debt 15 Years Later

    Still Paying Debt 15 Years Later

    Wednesday, July 16 2014 11:04 PM EDT2014-07-17 03:04:13 GMT
    In 1999, she was a teenager who had a car accident. A judge hit her with a judgment to pay for the other drivers medical bills. For 15 years off and on she has paid that judgment and today found out she owes more than the original debt, even though she has paid nearly the amount owed. Is that legal? It's why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
    In 1999, she was a teenager who had a car accident. A judge hit her with a judgment to pay for the other drivers medical bills. For 15 years off and on she has paid that judgment and today found out she owes more than the original debt, even though she has paid nearly the amount owed. Is that legal? It's why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Powered by WorldNow

WSVN-TV
Sunbeam Television Corp
1401 79th Street Causeway
Miami, FL 33141

Switchboard: (305) 751-6692
Newsroom: (305) 795-2777

Can't find something?
Connect with us here:
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WSVN. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.