If precautions have been taken a dispute over repair bills can often be avoided.
However, disputes over repair bills do happen and they often leave the car owner in an inconvenient position because the repairperson refuses to release the car until the bill is paid. Holding a car for repair costs is called an artisan´s or repair person´s lien. In Nebraska, for an artisan´s lien to be valid, it must be filed within 60 days from the date of completion of the work. A car owner who disputes the repair bill and the lien may sue the repairperson in an action for replevin (return of the car) and damages in civil court.
It is of course easier and often cheaper to handle the dispute out of court by negotiating a satisfactory settlement with the repair shop. If you have trouble with the person you are dealing with, ask to talk to his or her boss, or the manager or owner of the shop. Negotiate when you are not angry.
In many cases, the two parties need help in negotiating a solution. Mediation is a process in which a neutral person trained as a mediator sits down with the parties and helps them find a solution. In Lincoln you can contact The Mediation Center by calling 441-5740 or go to the website at www.TheMediationCenter.org. The mediator will contact the other party to find out if the person or company is willing to try mediation. Reaching a solution through mediation is usually much quicker and cheaper than going to court.
If you cannot negotiate or mediate a settlement, you may need to consider the possibility of a lawsuit. Claims exceeding $3,600 cannot be brought to Small Claims Court.