Legal Question in Mediation in Washington

If I threw up in someone's car and told him I would pay for his car to get cleaned over a text but he went to a detailing service and got it cleaned without informing me and now is charging me for the full service do I have to pay? The charge is $270 but I have found multiple places that would do it for under $150. He has threatened to take me to court.

Asked on 6/21/13, 3:16 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Amir John Showrai The Pacific Law Firm, PLLC
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Probably not the full $270. Your text serves as an admission of liability and an agreement to pay to clean it, but not at above market rates, provided you can produce 3-4 written estimates to clean up vomit in a car. He should have sought your approval to clean the car at the cost he did before doing so. In car damage cases, it is customary to seek 2-3 estimates prior to having the work done, showing that to the party at fault, and then letting them agree to it.

Fixing it without 2-3 estimates and without informing you ahead of time opens him up to what you are now doing, which is trying to show that you could have had the same work done at about half the cost. That being said, when the difference is about $120, think about how much your time is worth. If I were you, I'd offer to pay him $150, plus another $30 (for a total of $180) and tell him that he should have consulted your first since his actual cost was so much higher. This is a serious waste of time to go to court over.

Again, consider your time and what that is worth, the stress of going to court, the filing fees, etc., the cost of travel and parking at the court and it starts to add up quickly to the point that it is just not worth it for this amount of money. I agree you ought not to pay the full $270, but try to meet him part way. After all, he had to take his car to have it cleaned and take his time to do so. Maybe he ought to be compensated something beyond just the cost of the cleaning. If the shoe were on the other foot, maybe you'd want the same.

Best of luck to you.

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6/21/13, 8:35 pm

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