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How an Automatic Carwash, broke my back, destroyed my car and could potentially be fatal for children.

5 minutes in an Automatic Carwash, changed my life forever.

It was a beautiful Friday afternoon on February 29, 2008. Leap year. My husband and I were going to drive to Charleston, SC to spend our 22nd wedding anniversary. I had just dropped by the frame shop to pick up his anniversary present, a Clemson baseball print, signed by the baseball coaches of the past and present, nicely matted and framed. I had planned to swing by the carwash to get my car cleaned. Nothing unusual. I had been going here for a couple of years.

I pulled up to the carwash and as I was greeted by the attendant, I went to step out of my car to walk inside and watch my car go through the wash like I had done so many times before in the past. This time, the attendant stopped me and told me to remain seated in the car, stating that they no longer allowed people to go inside of the carwash, they had recently changed their policy and started asking their customers to remain in their vehicles through the wash cycle. Once the cycle is over he said, "you will pull to the right side of the building and an attendant will meet you there to vacuum your car and complete the interior and exterior tire shine." I was surprised, but followed their instructions. After all, my sons and I use to go to the little automatic car-washes at the gas stations and they loved the rainbow shower and wash cycle. They thought it was the coolest thing to go through that.

So, not giving it any thought, I decided I would clean out my purse while going through the cycle. It still pulled your car in on the conveyor. All you had to do was sit in side and wait for it to be over. So, in I went, the conveyor starts moving and the initial water cycle begins spraying the car and under the carriage. Next comes the pretty rainbow suds. I had a sunroof, so I could see everything going over my head too, and of course, the suds covered my sunroof. Just as the brushes cut on, I saw the big blue rollers and side rollers move into action. The brushes started spinning really fast and the powerful water begins spraying back and forth over the top of the car and on the sides. The cloths began making a loud slapping noise and moving quickly back and forth. With the car-wash underway, I unbuckled my seat belt and began cleaning out my purse.

A few minutes into the wash cycle, the roller now starting to move over the top of my sunroof. It seemed to be unusually close to my glass. I glanced up and felt a little uneasy about the same time I heard a loud clank. It sounded like it tapped my sunroof. Instinctively, I ducked my head, being startled by the noise, made a yelp. The next few minutes I relieve every time I pass a carwash. As I glanced up and then to the back of my car to see what may have caused the noise, my car made a loud crashing noise, and jolted up in the air and began rocking violently back and forth. The blue roller came crashing through my back hatch and settled down into the backseat of my Mitsubishi Eclipse. It then started jerking violently in my backseat as it continued to try and run it's cycle, all the while it continued to spin swiftly, only it was not just water it was filling my car with, it now had shards of glass that were being propelled at my head like a machine gun shooting rapid fire. I felt the sting of the glass as it hit my head and arms, and the water as it sprayed in on me. I tried to get out of my car to get out of the wash itself, but my doors were pinned in by the blue rollers on the side. When the big roller became stuck inside my car, it caused the rest of the equipment to stop as well. The car was being pulled by the conveyors one way, and the blue roller in the opposite direction. I felt like I was being ripped apart from the inside out. It seemed like it lasted forever even though it was only minutes. The blue roller then began jerking my car again violently as it tried to pull itself out with the timing of the cycle. The only problem is that it was now stuck inside the backseat of my car between the seat, hatch and sunroof. I was screaming most of the time, ducking from the shots of glass and trying to figure out what to do to keep this from taking my head off with it. I kept wondering where the attendant was, and why the machine hadn't somehow shut down. Surely someone heard me screaming, or heard all the ripping, tearing and the glass breaking. But, nothing, no one came to make the machine stop. No magic buttons to push, or if there was, there certainly was no attendant there to push it.

The machine kept lifting and jerking my car, roaring and straining to break free so it could finish it's cycle. But, it was stuck, it couldn't move out, because it was wedged between my hatch and back seat. Suddenly, with another jolt, it began moving towards my head. I couldn't believe that no one was stopping this. It was like I was all alone inside and outside the car-wash. As the bars started coming towards my head, I finally realized it wasn't going to stop on it's own and no one was coming in to make it stop either. I was scared and could only think of one way to get myself out of there. I grew up with brothers and race cars. I remembered how to pop a clutch. So, I took it from neutral which is what the attendant had me put it in, and placed it in first. For just a second, it gave me just enough traction to pull myself off the track and onto solid ground and just enough of a jolt, that the machine was freed from my backseat and pulled itself back out of my car and let me down on all four wheels.

It made one last jerk and loud noise and then just as quick as it started, I was finally free and was able to move my car out to the end of the washer. The water had stopped, the propelling glass ceased and finally, no more loud noises and jerking. My heart was racing so fast that I was breathing really hard. My hands were shaking so uncontrollably that I was struggling just trying to get my door open. When I did, I stumbled to the ground and sat for a second trying to comprehend what had just happened to me. When I glanced up, I saw what use to be my car, I couldn't believe what I saw. It was destroyed. It didn't even look like my beautiful, sporty, little car. When I caught my breath, it finally hit me that there was still no one coming to check on me or even to investigate what that loud noise was. It was like no one even realized what had just happened to me or my car. I stumbled back into my car and pulled it over to the side. As I opened my door, that same attendant came around the side to greet me with all smiles. "Are you ready for that tire shine ma'am? Keep in mind, I too went through a rainbow shower with water. I was a rainbow, wet mess, with glass in my hair, stuck to my clothes. My skin was stinging, my legs were killing me and my back felt like someone had just hit me with a truck for some reason.

I looked at that smiling face and lost the little bit of control I had left. "Are you kidding me? Do you not see what's left of my car and me?" He then looked at my car and his eyes grew very large and his mouth gaped open, "lord lady, what happened to you?" I then gave him the same look back, except I believe for that second, my color changed from white to purple in a mere second. I couldn't believe that he just asked me what had happened. Obviously from the wet hair and clothes, along with the lovely color of the rainbow, my own blood, shards of glass and a totally destroyed car should have been some clue right? He never once asked me anything else. He just turned and told me to sit down, he would be back with the owner.

Finally, I thought, someone can tell me what just happened to me and my car, and help is on the way. I struggled back to my car and grabbed my cell phone to call my husband. I could hardly form the words "honey, I need you to come to the carwash, it just ate my car with me inside of it". It seemed like several minutes before the owner and his wife came out of their other business which was across the parking lot. He walked up and took a look at me and then at my car, never once introducing himself, or asking me if I was ok. About the same time he decided to speak to me, my husband and son pulled up, jumped out of their vehicle and ran over to check me out. Then, the wife comes over and asked if I needed a towel. Not, are you ok. Not, we called the police to fill out a report. Not, come inside where you will be more comfortable. Not, you should sit down, you don't look so well. Or even, what happened?

The owner dismissed this, like it was no big deal. Something that must have occurred mulitplie times, because he did not blink an eye when he looked directly at me and stated "I have a guy who can replace that windshield for you, he fixes all of the damaged cars for me". I was still shaking and not really understanding why he was only referring to the window when it was clear that it ripped the motor out of my hatch, pulled my spoiler up, and with what had to be quite a lot of force, bent my metal trunk into a "v". My husband stepped in and said, "you do mean the windshield and the back of her car?". The owner then said, well just take it to my body guy and see what he says. He then finallly asked me what had happened? As I tried to explain and before I could finish with the first 3 words, he interrupted me and in an unkind tone, stated "well, this has happened before at my other carwashes. Its the kind of car you drive. If it didn't have that spoiler it would have been fine". I started to ask why he didn't put a warning sign up about spoilers, but couldn't, because he then snapped and said, "if you hadn't paniced and drove your car off the track, it wouldn't have done as much damage." I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Was I to blame for this accident? Did he really just blame me and my car? Wow, it finally clicked with me that he had no intention of helping me when the next two events basically spelled it out in front of me in bright neon lights. He then looked over at his attendant and said "vacuum all the glass out of her car and get rid of those pieces of windshield." The attendant jumped on it so fast, we didn't have time to stop him before he had it all vaccumed out.

The next thing was the deal breaker. I asked for his insurance information and whether or not he had called the police to file a report. He said it was not necessary because he was paying his body shop to fix it. He also said he had a friend at a rental company that would help provide me a rental car. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and go with his second referral. When we arrived to a place called "rent a wreck", I know, it should have been a dead give away, but still trying to be optimistic and exhibit good human behavior, I agreed, to go to his friend and rent a car. Here, I was greeted with a really unprofessional group of people who wanted me to pay the rental bill for a 1999 Pontiac Grandam, gold, that sounded like the muffler was gone, the breaks were squeaking and the right quarter panel was wrecked. To that end, the inside looked and smelled like someone had went on a 7 day drunk and deficated in the car. I knew at that instant that this man had no intention of trying to do the right thing by fixing my car or even following up with the pain I had experienced in his carwash. Worse, I could no longer feel my feet as when I sat down in a chair at the rental office or in the car when I got in it to sit down and wait for my husband. My back was throbbing, my hands and arms were still stinging and I needed to get the glass out of my hair, because my son and husband kept picking it off of me like monkeys.

At this point, I realized that maybe I should go ahead and swing by the hospital. Over a year ago, I had two rods placed in my spine because of degenerative disc disease. I began to wonder if the shaking had caused my hardware to shift and maybe press on a nerve to cause the pain and numbness. When I went to the doctor, I got what turned out to be the first of many looks that said, I can't believe a car-wash did this. I was diagnosed with nerve damage and sent home with pain medication and told to followup with my neurosurgeon, which I did. We also went by the Sheriffs Department and filed my own report, and contacted my insurance company to get them to help me with a rental car and the fixing of my car. The people who owned the car-wash refused to give me their insurance information, but quickly took my drivers license and insurance card to copy for themselves. We had to get our own Auto Insurance Compamy to Suborrgate the damage on the car, because this man and his Insurance company would not return phone calls or even acknowledge the accident.

It took a while for my neurosurgeon to figure it out because of the positioning of my spine. But, the car-wash broke my back in half. A perfectly clear break that you could not see on the MRI or CT. On those scans it looked fractured. But, on a bending X-ray, it showed it snapped clean in half. I loss the feeling in my feet and calves from my knees down. I had to have two rods extended and 4 more added. I have now had two spine surgeries and have permanent spine damage and peripheral neuropathy. There is no cure for what I am going through now. It will never get better and prognosis is that will only get more painful with age.

To date, I have over 860k in medical bills, approximately 8000k done in damages just on my car. Not to mention loss wages of close to 48k for the 12 months it has taken to recover and start walking unassisted again. I have not heard the first thing from this man or his Insurance Company.

I have no idea what will happen with this in the future. I don't really care what others think about what happened to me. BUT, I will ask you to take the content of this story and apply it if you have children who enjoy that little trip to the car wash. I drove a small sports car. It did have a backseat and yes an adult could fit in it, so could a carseat. But, on this day, in that moment that this equipment malfunctioned, had their been a child in a carseat in my car, it would have been crushed. Most likely it would have resulted in a fatality of a child, because it sat all the way down in the backseat. There is no way I could have gotten to anyone or fought that equipment off. I would have been helpless to get someones attention, because they clearly walked away. I was helpless to do anything with the equipment because it creates thousands of pounds of pressure and force. It is a freak accident. As a matter of fact, if you google it, I am probably the only person in the world it has happened to. But, I went into this carwash like millions of people do everyday. On that day, the equipment malfunctioned. On that day, it broke my back and destroyed my car. On that date, I was blessed not to have had one of my nieces or nephews in their car-seat in the backseat of my car.

I hope this "freak accident" prevents a "tragic accident" to an innocent. I truly believe they should be required to post signs that say a car wash can malfunction and cause bodily harm. They should also post signs for cars with spoilers and let people know that they are at greater risk to having damage done by their machines. I would not have gone in there that day if either of those signs had been posted. I have not been to one since, and will not the rest of my life.

We take for granted that people who own these business conduct proper inspections of their equipment, do the proper maintenance on them and alert you to hazards that may exist. Knowledge is certainly power. Don't you have the right to know that something you feel should be completely safe, just may not be and could be more dangerous than you can comprehend?No one deserves to go into something so innocent and so common and come out changed for life or worse, losing a life.

I asked two things of this company. First, post a sign stating that people should not be in a car during a wash cycle because it could potentially malfunction and cause personal body and property damage. "Enter at your own risk" is so generalized that people dismiss it. The sign needs to tell you the true risk.

Secondly, they need to make it mandatory that no child should be allowed to be inside a vehicle during a wash. I explained in detail how this equipment crashed through my hatch and sat down in my backseat, roller spinning, metal arms and all. If a car-seat had been in my backseat, I could not have reached my child or saved them from being crushed and cut to pieces. When I pointed my concerns out to the owner, he simply stated without regard "I don't deal in what if's lady". I was not being paranoid. I did not make any threats of litigation. I tried to no avail to do things his way. This man and his company did nothing, not even apologize for the accident or followup to see if I was OK. But, the child comment and not dealing with "what if's", was more than I could stand and something I was not willing to walk away from.

I am asking anyone who supports my effort to make car-washes safer and to prevent possible injury to adults and especially children in the backseat, to please click on this link below and become a member of my group. I am going to file to hopefully make this a law nationwide. It does take time, but more importantly it takes support.

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Thanks for reading this hub and for your comments.

P.S. This hub was written as I recalled the accident 2 years after the initial accident. As I am dealing with post traumatic stress syndrome, it helps to write about it, but more importantly, its very important that everyone have the opportunity to choose whether to risk sitting in your vehicle and hope for the best or watch it go through and know that you and your family are safe as your vehicle is washed. Not ALL car-washes or insurance companies so callously disregard the welfare of others. But, unfortunately for me, I have run into both. Since 2010, I have had an additional spine surgery to place a neurostimulator in my spine and a shoulder surgery to repair the torn labrum that learning to transition from a wheelchair to a bed caused. Although, I am no longer in a wheelchair, "Thank you God", I do still walk with assisted devices and do still have major problems with my spine as well as with claustrophobia, PTSD, etc... I chose the stimulator as a way not to take pain medication because I have never been a big fan of taking it. Which caused me to have unmanaged pain. I am permanently disabled now and can no longer work. I know there is a silver lining coming in my future one day. I also know that it is always in Gods time and not mine. It has now been over 5 years and my case remains unresolved.

Updated 5/7/13


JoeE on August 27, 2018:

I had worst damage. The straps rotating on a horizontal arm got tangled up on my window wiper. It stopped it off. The arm got stuck in that position and busted my front windshield, scratched and dented my roof, completely busted my back window, slammed down and busted by rear speaker and continued to scratch and dent my hood. Water, soap and glass everywhere. It's been difficult dealing with their insurance adjuster. After two weeks and my car is still in my garage damaged. Only got a 3 day car rental. Worse still, no representative from the company has come to look at my car, they want me to sign a release of "no liability" if we are to settle. What about their equipment? Are they even looking into why it malfunction? They just started it up again after what happened and allowed cars to keep going through. This has not been fun. It was a scary experience.

daniyal from pakistan on March 28, 2018:

If you were driving into the car wash and dinged your vehicle then your insurance company would have to cover the damage since you would be considered at- fault. However, if your vehicle was not moving and the brushes or moving parts of the car wash damaged your vehicle then the liability would be on the brushes in an automatic car wash may hold dirt, debris and rocks from vehicles that have run through the wash earlier in the day. These rotating brushes can then scratch your vehicle with the debris. Additionally, other moving parts in the car wash can damage or break the antenna on your vehicle and possibly cause

Sandi77 on February 12, 2017:

I am so sorry this happened to you and you dealt with such low life owners.

I did not know you could walk with a broken back....

Best of luck to you!

Yesika on October 26, 2014:

Hi! today I experienced something similar at a car wash, I have a hatchback as well, and just when It was in the drying process my whole rearwinshield was crashed, it was horrible, I was scared and when I finally realized what happenned I couldn't believe it, sane thing as you no one came to my aid, until I went and talked to someone who worked there fortunately nothing else happenned to me, they were responsible and sent me to have my rear windshield repaired, my heart goes out to you, it's really unfair that they don't owe up to their mistake, god bless you!

Amanda on July 02, 2014:

Oh my god. I came here while searching for nearby car washes. This is horrifying. Where was the attendant in all of this? Did you ever find out what he was doing? Hard to believe that no one noticed this happening. I hope you finally get justice.

Luke on April 07, 2014:

I am a car wash attendant and never heard of such a thing. The owner is responsible for any damages occurring as a result of the machines. When they trained me they told me we had to stay by the emergency stop in case something happened, the attendant should have been there and stopped the wash and got you out of the car. This is a mighty shame that this happened. The police should have been called and an ambulance to check all injuries.

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on November 23, 2012:

Thank you so much for writing. It is because of Lawyers like you that real lawsuits will be filed and not frivilous ones. It is because of frivilous lawsuits that people who have actually been hurt in an accident that nothing gets done. This is now going on 5 years with no resolution, not even one thought of going to mediation. They have used one stall tactic after another. They admitted it in the owners own deposition that it happened, they did not hit the stop switch and to top that off, he purjured himself on video deposition and with a court transcriber by saying he had my car back to me the next day. It was almost or over 6 weeks. I am often amazed at how people lie, they are caught in the lie, we have actual paperwork from my Insurance company where they had to subborgate just to get my car fixed and pay for the rental car and this guy says all he did was fix my glass and get the car back to me the next day. As a Corporate Lawyer for the Insurance company, one would think, if she is willing to settle, for goodness sakes, settle. Instead, they are denying any fault or liability and have continued this into 2013. There is hope when you hear someone who is in law school to become an attorney, or an attorney say, they will fight for truthful justice. That is all anyone can ask. Nothing more. I appreciate your comments. I wish you so much success in your Legal journey. May you help many clients and be a great server of the Law.

Aria on November 23, 2012:

This is UNBELIEVABLE! I actually thought you were writing a horror story. If you have watched Final Destination, then you will know what images I had in mind when I was reading this. There are no words that can express how wrong it sounds. The attitudes of the staff and their indifference so deeply convinced me that they were non human beings. It just shocks me how people can have so little compassion. I mean, you didn't even get an apology from the owner? I would understand murderers killing people out of revenge. What bothers me is that how a group of supposedly normal people would so cowardly enough not to take responsibilities of causing another human's pain. I will do everything in my power to make your voice heard and to bring those merciless criminals to justice. I am grateful that you have shared the unfortunate accident! It is because of the people whose help urgently needed like you that give me the passion to be a lawyer who fights for the rights of the innocent. Don't worry, justice WILL BE served.

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on October 24, 2012:

Hi Trevor,

Thank you for your honesty. I don't believe I had my steering wheel turned as the attendant actually reached in the car to adjust in prior to it pulling me in. It is a freak accident and I know that. I don't go around blaming other carwashes and I have never disclosed the name of this car wash because I know that it was just that. An accident. But, the attendant leaving, that could have hit the stop button and leaving me in there allowing it to rip me and my car up and be pinned in, that was not an accident. It is still pending litigation. It will be 5 years in February. It seems like no one wants any responsibility in this. Not the company and not the insurance company. It's changed my life forever. I have two spine surgeries one in November and the other in December of this year that is still yet a part of this accident. That puts me at 4 spine surgeries because of this accident and a shoulder repair from tearing my labrum from learning to transition from a wheelchair to a bed. I'm not greedy. I don't want millions of dollars. I want my doctors billed paid, I want them to acknowledge that I am a human being that had their life changed because this guy had to go on a smoke break while I was in the wash and I want to be compensated for my loss of income. It all totals a whole lot less than what most would think. But, these people won't even go into a mediation. They are trying to blame the maker of the carwash. It's just yet another stalling contact. My Attorney said they don't feel they should have to pay a dime. Sometimes, it blows me away how people sleep at night that work for these insurance companies and these attorneys who represent them. But, I know at the end of the day, I did everything I should have done, I tried to do things the owners way, but he just didn't care enough about me to do one thing that was human. Some people just don't have it in them. But, it sounds like your patrons are lucky. They have dilligent service providers. Thats really important in your line of work. It happened once. It can happen again. There is just no need for it to. Thank you again for your comment.

cynthia allison on August 31, 2012:

My God!!!'' I cant believe the way the owners reacted they should be held tottally responsible.....My prayers are that you continue to heal and get your life back...thanks tor posting this and I will never use another car wash again...please don't give up the fight I wonder where there people were when you were screaming. KEEP FIGHTING....I WILL KEEP PRAYING FOR YOU....GOD BLESD YOU! !!!

Trevor on July 15, 2012:

Hi there. I happen to work at a carwash and this story is unbelievable. We too command to remain in the vehicle during washes but i never thought of an accident like this to occur. However, we always have an attendant watching by. The only mistake (if any) on your part is that it is true that if the steering wheel was turned during accident, the damage created is much higher. Overall this is a tragety an i never would have thought something like this could occur

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on July 03, 2012:

Thank you for your compassion. It has taken a long time to realize this. But, I recently learned that I actually have PTSD from the accident. I wrote about it to warn people and to keep them safe, but I never spoke to anyone about it. I would get the "oh my you must have been in a car accident", then I would try to explain the whole carwash thing, and they would be grateful for the information and I have a lot of support for wanting to fight to put up signage, but I never really discussed to anyone what it felt like being inside, pinned and unable to get out. I have never entered a carwash again and I cannot even park my own car in my garage, because I can't be in enclosed places, especially with my vehicle. It's so strange how things affect different people. But, the bigger thing here is having the support to get something passed to keep others from a potential accident. As for the "scum owner", its his Insurance Company Penn Insurance who has sandbagged the entire lawsuit. Which is surprising, it's not like I would be the kind of person to want millions. I have such a small number in mine to cover my bills, loss of job and for the surgeries, most people would be surprised. I'm just not the person who wants more than I need. I just want to be taken care especially the older I get. Instead of trying offer me something, they just keep dragging it out, allowing more and more bills to build up for more treatments. I would want to stop the bills from coming in and send me off. They want to draw it out. Since I have never filed a lawsuit against someone, I guess I was a bit unrealistic about what to expect. Afterall, I drove in with good intentions as a customer and drove out broken and my car messed up. It's kind of a no brainer. But, I guess that doesn't matter much to these people either. I guess they think everyone is out to rape an insurance company. I know frivilous law suits just cause the consumer more money. So, I am not that consumer. But, I think they just throw us all in the same lot. They are number people, not real people with real compassion.

Thank you again. Have a wonderful week.

kit on July 03, 2012:

It disgusts me to know people like the owners exist, what piece of scum can live with knowing they are responsible for such damage and potentially death(s)? Furthermore, I don't see what is so difficult about putting up a sign.

You are surely a better person than I, I would be bitter and spitting out lawsuits like there was no tomorrow. Your story moved me tremendously; I wish you luck in being reimbursed and getting your message out there, you are in my thoughts.

Lucy on June 13, 2012:

Omg! Poor u ! And them selfish twats should just go through what U has just been through like u said I'm glad no baby/child/young adult was in the car and Awww it was ur 22nd wedding thingy ... I'll hopefully never feel ur pain but good luck.

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on May 31, 2012:

Thank you so much for your kindness. You are right. I am currently looking for a way to get the word out better.

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on May 31, 2012:

You are correct. They should have insurance. I'm so sorry to learn of your accident. How horrible. I think these service providers have never really been held to any kind of real regulatory standards that have to comply with. Don't give up. If they have real insurance then you can sue the owner personally. However my advice would be to go to another attorney. Don't go to an ambulance chaser. Also, I believe the biggest picture is that there needs to be a change in legislation that forces this type of industry to up hold safety standards. First, straight forward signage about their process. Secondly, you should never, ever be in the vehicle and lastly the attendant is paid to do a job. It is not your responsibility to hand him mats he's paid to clean. Your accident would never have happened had he done his job in the first place. Believe it or not there is a Carwash College. It may sound like a joke. It they do provide them with educational resources. I can only sumise that it cost money and they choose to place people in positions who either do not like their job or it's the only one they get. Most don't run criminal checks either. Im not sure where you live, but our car washes would never be open if there were ice. They all shut down. That's about the only positive note I can end on. Look into a second opinion lawyer. You have every right to terminate them if they are not working hard for you. Keep in touch via email at

alsoinjured on May 30, 2012:

Hi ugagirl66, I too had an incident at a carwash and they refused to give me their insurance info. Well a year & a half later, i find out that they have no insurance. I had multiple injuries and as a result of my fall at the carwash, I now have what is called CRPS and am in a wheel chair because of it. My story goes on and on. But to make a long story short, he car wash is now lying and saying that they told me not to get out of the car, this is not true, they told me to pass them my mats to them if I wanted them cleaned.i would have gladly stayed in my warm car in December had they told me to. I fell into their drain hole, while going around to the passenger's door to grab the last one, at least that's what one of the attendents told me. I have to have medical treatment for the rest of my life for this condition. My husband has insurance, but the co-pays for specialist, pt, and meds have skyrocketed. It took a year & a half for the car wash to respond, w/a lawyer that says they are going to fight to the end. They say they have witnesses, but they are lying. The atty also says they have no insurance. I find this hard to believe, as I thought business like this had to have insurance.

LM on May 26, 2012:

I am so truly sorry that you had to endure this - and that the owner of that car wash could only see dollar signs! Horrific. Simply horrific. I found your page while searching for car washes locally that don't require the driver to stay in the vehicle. Now I'm more determined than ever to NOT sit inside my car in a car wash. Ack! (I do recommend, however, using a site other than facebook to gather people. I'm not a member of facebook and therefore can not view your page.) Also, do you happen to know of any site that lists car washes that DON'T require one to stay in the vehicle - I can't find a car wash like that in my region. May you miraculously find a way to feel better!

chrissywags on May 11, 2012:

I am so sorry to read this article. I was crying reading such a tragic story. I stumbled upon this article by mistake and got curious and started reading it. I couldn't believe my eyes. How horrifying!! Meanwhile, as I was reading all I kept thinking about was my 3 year old daughter. If that were me and I had her with me, she would be gone. There is no way any child, let alone an adult in the backseat, would have survived. How you survived is a miracle all in it's self. I am very impressed how you are holding up and going about the situation. I can only say I can get an understanding of the pain you are in (and defiantly not the full extent of your condition) from my own car accident that was also not my fault and that is how I stumbled upon your story. I am 32 and suffer from chronic lumbar pain, posttraumatic arthritis, and surgery due to someone else's negligence. So, I have understanding of your pain and the process. Your situation though literally had me crying and I never even met you. I wish you all the best of luck with your condition and spreading the word. I know after reading this I will never allow my daughter to go through an automatic car wash ever as long as I shall live. May God Bless you and your family for all you have endeavor.

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on March 01, 2012:

Thank you, I appreciate your comment. I am still in litigation to date.

As for me, I am always in pain, I will always be in pain and the older I get it will continue to get worse. There is nothing more they can do. I am having to learn to accept my limitations and adjusting my life and movement to the what my body allows me to do.

Heather on February 22, 2012:

Stumbled upon your article today and omg! I'm so sorry this had to happen and some people are just jerks and all about the money. To date it's been almost 4 years and I would like to know an update on the case, and your injuries. God bless.

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on February 06, 2012:

Thank you for that comment. I really appreciate it. Sometimes I think I feel responsible for just having bad taste of car washes. Its probably stupid, but I have never been able to to into another carwash since that day. I can't even bring myself to go into one of those self cleaning ones where you get out and use the brushes. It's to enclosed for me and I just can't stand that thought of having something fall on me again.

This guy did his deposition and when asked the question of whether he posted signs after the accident he responded no. When asked if he would consider posting signage telling people of the potential of bodily harm, he responded with a resounding no.

He then proceeded to say that he has millions of customers a year and only one of these kind of accidents here and there. He then told counsel "You do the math"... In other words, this owner said, one broken up person and destroyed car, or potential fatality that may or may not happen again, versus all my business, just isn't worth the time to put up a stupid sign...

I am beginning to think that most (Not ALL), but most of these guys are all about the almighty dollar and well, if a child in car seat gets stuck in an accident like this and those thousands of pounds of pressure and equipment just happen to drop in on their heads and mangle their bodies and kill them.. So be it.. It's only a person... Look at all the thousands of customers he still has with no accidents... I can only say WOW... I can only say, that at least God gets the final judgement on creeps like these. I also, hope that in the unfortunate event that something like that ever happens, that someone finds this article and points out to that owner... That that 10.00 sign could have saved a life and saved him from losing his millions of customers and multiple car-washes, if he had just valued a life more than his money.

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on November 23, 2011:

Thank you for your comments. I believe you are right about the sensors. I have heard that before.

Wolfie on November 22, 2011:

Whatever the owner was thinking, he must not have cared cuz if it had happened multiple times before with other people then surely they would shut the entire car wash down, it wasn't your fault that your car had a spoiler, loads of cars these days have them, i know someone (not gonna say who they are obviously) who went through a car wash, i was was with her too, and the rollers were alright but the dryer came and all that did as just catch the spoiler, and she just said that it happens all the time when she goes through car washes, and when i inspect the damage all i see mostly is nothing, only one or two small unnoticable scratches, and if your car has a spoiler and some person goes your not allowed then how can you take it off? In a Bugatti yes but you dont have a Bugatti so they should have sensors on them (the rollers and dryers) so then if something is in the way, e.g. spoiler, ladder, or something then it will detect them and it will raise the machine up so that there will be no damage, whoever the owner of that car wash was he must not have cared about other people, he is probably a selfish twit, if that happened to me i would have a right go at him! tell him to shut off the car wash if something happens or if it has happened in the past, shut the thing down completely!

mdk on June 12, 2011:

I am so sorry about your experience. I too have had an accident but luckily only my car was damaged. I was never able to get the car wash to pay for any damage. I am amazed at what these places get away with. I had two witnesses, one who's car also got damaged, and neither bothered to come forward. I am sad to say no justice was done. I would love to get involved. I'm not good with modern technology though.

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on June 09, 2011:

Thanks, I appreciate it. I am finally going to give my deposition tomorrow. It's only been 3 years and four months. Apparently they are not in much of a hurry to do anything. I am quite frustrated, but we shall see how this goes. I have the truth on my side. I am not really sure what theirs is unless they try and make up something as they go along.

Zipalong on May 21, 2011:

Just popped in to see how you were progressing.

Don't give up !

For some more inspiration

If you're not happy with your attorney - sack them and find another. This is something I should have done once.

rosleena on May 19, 2011:

Oh my God!!!this is terrible....i can understand perfectly how the carwash people would have behaved....cos when my husband and me (with my kids) went in for a carwash...s'thing went wrong and the car was jerking every now and then and the wash cycle was not completed...and the attendant shouted something about the way we drove into the conveyor or so....and we had to just drive away ...thank God no harm was done....but your case is very very sad....will pray for u...

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on April 29, 2011:

I actually have an attorney. That's how I knew why their defense is. They basically are saying they want a jury trial but for the jurors to have a cap of 3 times of my med expenses as an award. Definitely not a door mat. But also realize that taken more than is fair only makes it harder for others like me with legitimate claims to be compensated. The insurance company is the only one being hit here. I has to choose who to sue and I opted for the insurance because you never really know what someones assets are and whether they would hide them to well to access. The longer they fail to react the more angry I become. I'm far from weak, an extremely strong witness on the stand, as it's requires in my guardian duties for children. I'm educated and certainly willing to hold them accountable. Getting the word out is why I wrote this, started a petition and a Facebook page as well as solicited help with legislation. I do appreciate your comments and certainly understand and appreciate your point.

Thanks for responding to my hub!

me on April 29, 2011:

14th Amendment, Article I, Section 3: "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State."

That can't be right. Maybe you got the amendment mixed up. Nonetheless, it's still a bunch of bullshit that this con artist apparently has more rights than you do in this matter. Of course, it sounds like you're trying to be nice here instead of aiming to do the most damage you can to this pathetic excuse for a human being. I would have at least gotten a lawyer and try to sue him for all he was worth as well as get it publicized in the news both as a warning to others and hopefully to hurt him in the same way he hurt you, except in the pocketbook (the only place these scumbags feel anything). Trying to be nice went out the window the second he opened his mouth and demonstrated a lack of concern for what his machine just did to you. Having signs put up to warn others is all well and good, but what about the damage that has already been done to YOU that you haven't been adequately compensated for?

But if you prefer to be walked all over, that's your business too I suppose.

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on April 22, 2011:

I haven't been in a Carwash since the day this happened,3 yeas ago. I have an update on my litigation. Apparrently, I am violating the rights of the Car wash owner by way of the Fourteenth Amendment, Article I, Section 3. I guess their rights were more important than mine. I thought I had the right to pay for a service and walk away fully intact, with no injuries or damage. Apparrently our Judicial system feels it is more appropriate that the business owners assets be protected versus the human it tears apart. Very disturbed by what these Insurance Companies will do to keep from compensating for legitamate injury and claims.

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on April 22, 2011:

I haven't been in a Carwash since the day this happened,3 yeas ago. I have an update on my litigation. Apparrently, I am violating the rights of the Car wash owner by way of the Fourteenth Amendment, Article I, Section 3. I guess their rights were more important than mine. I thought I had the right to pay for a service and walk away fully intact, with no injuries or damage. Apparrently our Judicial system feels it is more appropriate that the business owners assets be protected versus the human it tears apart. Very disturbed by what these Insurance Companies will do to keep from compensating for legitamate injury and claims.

carolapple from Suffolk Virginia on March 26, 2011:

Oh my gosh! I had no idea this could happen. I think I will wash my car by hand with hose in the driveway from now on. What's even more shocking than an equipment malfunction is the callousness of the owners. I am sorry you have had to go through this and glad you have had the opportunity to share your story.

Christina M. Castro from Baltimore,MD USA on March 26, 2011:

I have tears in my eyes reading your hub. You are handling this okay, emotionally, and writing about it is part of the process. I trust the Good Lord has a hand on where Justice counts. Do you have a good lawyer. This needs to be litigated in court, I suppose. No one else should be subjected to this situation.I hope you do go to court because the right thing to do is to get compensated for your losses. I hope your spine will heal. I will definitely pray for your recovery on that.

I was in a minor crash once (lady came through a light that I could not see because of a blaring sunlight. I was okay and so was my baby son in the back seat. My son did not like drive through car washes. He used to scream and cry until it was all through. Thank God none of your children were in the back seat. I am glad I got a chance to read your testimony. I hope you do get financial compensation.

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on March 25, 2011:

Thank you for your perspective and it does have valued points. I am fighting a good fight. I don't think it's to much to ask for a sign to be posted that simply states "Equipment can malfunction and cause bodily injury". But, my preference would be that they never allow ANYONE to remain in their vehicles when entering a carwash that pulls you in on a conveyor and that has the rollers. I don't believe touchless ones would injure someone. Although, I really wouldn't know. I have not been in a carwash since February 29, 2008. The date this happened. Its kind of a shame to be so afraid of them. But, I am a huge wuss when it comes to carwashes and enclosed spaces of any kind now. I never use to be like that. But, not being able to get out of a small space when it is ripping you a part will give you a healthy fear I guess.

Thank you again. I took what you said to heart!

Zipalong on March 24, 2011:

Damn, that's tragic !!!

What you have experienced should be more exposed in my opinion. It certainly would have been if you had died !

I don't agree with your comment about insurance though, especially about not pushing the claim, as that is exactly what insurance companies would prefer you to do - "Not Claim".

They spend most of their time trying to 'avoid' making payouts anyway.

To hell with insurance prices - they will raise them regardless of claims. They do it exponentially every time there is a natural disaster - so what's the difference?

So I think you really need to push your claim if others are to benefit from your experience!

• so that you can be adequately compensated.

• as proof of this occurrence being recognized as potentially life threatening.

• in order to put more pressure on 'car wash businesses', in providing safe equipment and regulatory operating procedures before and when they apply for insurance.

Surely, if something as unjust as has happened to you is not at least rightfully compensated for, then at least it will (hopefully) be prevented from ever (ever) occurring again. Otherwise, I think "a'hole" business operators like you have witnessed will continue to capitalize on what they presumably see as just, 'customer misfortune'.

So fight the fight - do not let them get away with it - take it to your 'white house' if need be. Don't let this be 'hushed up' or swept under the table like so many other accidents.

• A near death experience is worth the trouble in my opinion.

Maybe someone like Oprah could push your concerns for you?

Best wishes to you in your endeavors !

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on March 22, 2011:

Thank you for your comments. I am not a big fan of suing people. I think it is one of the reasons insurance rates go up for everyone else. However, I expect to be compensated for my medical bills which are close to 200k and then I lost 89k in salary and then lost my job to boot. I am permanently paralyzed as well. But, I have adjusted to my new set of wheels. I am more focused on informing people to not go in with children and making certain no one else gets hurt. It is the positive in this. Educating others so that they have a choice to make based on real facts. It's important that everyone know the risk associated with these types of carwashes. Unfortunately, you will not find a lot of material on it showing you real risk. Thanks for your support though.

tigergirl15 on March 22, 2011:

I am outraged that a company can be so callous about this accident. I saw where you wrote that you are in pending litigation but it has been a long time. Why haven't you pushed harder to get them to pay you money. Your efforts alone to prevent others from being harmed in the same way is admirable. But, they would have to show me the money on this. A broke back, paralyzed. What is wrong with this picture? Did you not drive in normal and drive out broke in half? That seems pretty open and shut to me. Have you thought about getting your local media involved in this to get the word out?

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on January 02, 2011:

My God - what a horrible experience. You deserve everything you can get from these uncaring pople.

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on December 27, 2010:

Thanks. I hope that others pass this along and maybe it will actually help keep someone from getting hurt in the future.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on December 27, 2010:

What a horrible story! A nightmare! The whole time I was reading this, I kept thinking, thank God there were no children in the car. What a crime it is that you will have to wait so long for compensation!

Cheryl J. from Houston, TX on December 27, 2010:

This is horrible. You are very blessed. Good luck with your emotions and your settlement. Thanks for sharing your hubpage.

vietnamvet68 from New York State on December 26, 2010:

Gee you were lucky, If it were me, buy the time I got through I would be owning that car wash. Hope you got a new car from them.

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on December 26, 2010:

Thank you for the comments. It was not one of my finer moments for certain. But, it did teach me a lesson and it made me think of the "what if's" that I hope really will keep someone else from ever being hurt again. As for the lawsuit. The Insurance company is stalling and it will be 3 years in February. It should not be so hard for people to just do the right thing and post signage to prevent risk. If it happened in one freak accident, it can most certainly happen again. I for one don't want people taking that kind of chance.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 26, 2010:

Wow! I had no idea that something like this was even possible. Going to forward this on to everyone I know and I truly hope that you get satisfaction when it finally makes its way into the court system. I also hope that your injuries do not cause you more pain and agony as you age. Laws should be changed to prevent this from ever happening to anyone in the future. Thanks for spreading the word about this horrific accident.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on December 26, 2010:

What a horrible thing to have to go through. I hope that you recover from this. I am so surprised that this guy is still operating his car wash, you would think that they would shut it down right away. I myself have sometimes thought about what would happen while going through car washes and after reading your story I don't think I will use them anymore. I hope you get a huge insurance payout for this and do not have to endure too much more pain.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 26, 2010:

What a horrific thing to happen to you. I sure hope you win you fight. I actually think this place should be permanently closed down and you should get a huge award for all you have been through. I hope your health continues to improve.

sonya on July 26, 2010:

Sorry about some of the spelling and missed letters. My keyboard needs replaced.

sonya on July 25, 2010:

I am so srry for all of your troubles. I am the manager of several of these type of washes and yes things can go wrong. But it seems to me not only did the machinery malfunction(which by the owner on words, had happened before with your type of car)the employees were not on their job. While I have never had anything of this magnitude happen, the things that di we knew about instantly, not from only the noise, but also the cameras. Obviously, no one was paying attention. One thing you should know, is that they have the ability to raise the top brush so that it doesn't come down on your vehicle. We do this on a lot of vehicles, and if they knew that cars like yours with spoilers were at risk, that should have been done. I hope it all works out for you. While I will say that we get a lot of fake damage claims at washes, cases like yours should be resolved immediately without any delay.

vicki on June 13, 2010:

Have you published the name of the car wash anywhere? Or called up your local papers? I am so sorry for your experiences...that is just horrific. You were probably in shock when your husband arrived and it would have been impossible to be in the correct frame of mind when talking to the owner. He is a creep and should not be allowed to own a business. I would make it very public where this carwash is and what the owners' names are. Good luck to you - stay strong.

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on March 04, 2010:

Thanks so much Michael. I really appreciate the support. Thanks for passing the info along. I think the more people that know, the better chances are that the innocent consumer can protect themselves and their children. It's so scary to think about something so every day, and normal could go so wrong in a blink of an eye and turn into something horrific. I am blessed by having wonderful family and friends. But, as a Mom and someone who has two great niece and nephews on the way, I would have been devestated for life, had I taken one of them in the carwash, thinking they would enjoy the water and colors only to have to explain to their parents how something so innocent went so wrong and hurt or killed their innocent baby. Everytime I pass a carwash, I want to run up with a sharpie and write in big letters "Don't go in, equipment may malfunction and could cause life threatening injuries".. Of course, I would be carted off to jail and the carwash people would still let the innocent go in blindly... Thanks again..

Michael R. on February 20, 2010:

What an unbelievable story. I was google searching for answers on how to get my car fixed after being damaged in a carwash when your article popped up. Unbelievable. I will never go into another carwash again. You are so right about the warning signs. People need to know that this can happen to them and worse. How would you have gotten to a carseat with a metal roller spinning and sitting down on top of it? I can't beleive that any owner would be so stupid as to risk someones life like that and not bother to post signs of possible damage to the people inside of a car. Why wouldn't they just let you stand outside? Especially if a car was being pulled in on a conveyor.

What a crazy nightmare you are in. I sure hope you retained a good attorney and I hope you win the battle for the signage. I'm signing up to support it and I will be passing this along to all of my friends and family.

I am sorry for the damage to you personally and for the jerk who owned the car wash being so crude. But, I am so thankful that you took this and decided to be proactive and help to protect innocent people and their children.

You deserve a medal!

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on February 14, 2010:

You would think. But for some reason that is not how the judicial system works. From what I understand it could go on another 3-5 years. You would think that a statue of limitation would come in somewhere, but I have not found any precedent. So, hopefully I will get reimbursed at least for my medical bills and the loss of my ability to walk, stand and sit like I did before the accident. I have faith that when the time is right, things will come to a close. I still have a long way to go to get this to the senate floor and have them make it a law. The more support I can get, the better the chances are for spreading the word and holding these owners accountable for posting the real possibility for danger. Whether I am a minor percentage or not, a child's life is immeasurable. That's what I don't get about all of this. Just give people an opportunity to decide for their childs safety by providing them with the right information. I plan to be a squeaky wheel until someone listens. I have nothing but time now!

Shadesbreath from California on February 14, 2010:

Wow. That' is a brutal story. Holy crap. You should own that carwash by now.

Regina Harrison-Barton (author) from South Carolina on February 14, 2010:

Thanks I appreciate that. I have a dog in this fight, but the wheels of justice are very slow. In the mean time, people need to know that they can get hurt and deserve the right to protect their children.

Ohma on February 13, 2010:

Wow! I am at a loss for words. How truly horrifying. I am so sorry that you had to and are still going through this. I know not everyone thinks like me but I would be sueing the brushes off of them. How dare they presume that your health and wellbeing are valueless and that is what they are implying by not bending over backwords to see that you have whatever they can give to help you get through this.

Gee guess i wasn't speachless after all just infuriated.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on February 13, 2010:

What a horrific experience!

I hope you win your fight to make this something that never happens again. So glad you did not have children in the car, but the effects on you and your life should surely deserve some justice. Amazing, terrifying story.