You took your car in for some work this weekend in an effort to be a responsible car owner and keep your vehicle in good shape for as long as possible. On your way to work Tuesday morning, you were involved in a car accident. No matter how careful a driver you are, there’s no guarantee you’ll never be in an accident, but could the accident be blamed on the mechanic rather than you or the other driver?
Auto Repair Shops Have a Legal Duty
We depend on auto repair shops to fix and prevent problems, not cause them. Just like with physicians and other healthcare professionals, you trust the word and expertise of your mechanic. After all, these professionals have more training and experience than you do. That said, just as there are no guarantees in regards to your careful driving skills, the same can be said of the work done by a mechanic.
You may also notice disclaimers in repair shops stating they aren’t liable for accidents or vehicle damage resulting from repairs. Before you believe you’ve signed your legal rights away by agreeing to let such shops work on your vehicle, know that those disclaimers usually don’t hold up in court. What this all boils down to is the fact that repair shops have to take responsibility for negligent work, and that you can take legal action against your mechanic.
Different Types of Negligent Repair Work Exist
Even if a repair shop completes a specific job, it may not be done according to the latest industry standards. When that happens, it’s considered to be negligent repair work, which can result in something like an icy road accident. Specific types of negligent repair work include:
- Installing or ordering the wrong part
- Not completing all needed repairs
- Carrying out unnecessary or incorrect repairs
- Unqualified mechanics being allowed to work on a car
- Not identifying all necessary repairs
- Illegally modifying vehicle parts
Because there’s so much that can go wrong with a repair, it’s essential you choose your mechanic carefully. Do your due diligence when deciding on a repair shop. After all, you’re placing your safety and your life in the hands of the repair shop.
You’ll Need To Establish Negligence
Should you ever feel you have no choice but to sue a mechanic for negligence, it will be up to you to establish negligence. What that means is you and your attorney have to prove the auto shop owed you a duty of care, that it failed to adequately fulfill that duty of care, and that you suffered damage or a loss because of that negligence.
Here’s an example of how that may work: You take your car in for a tune-up and your mechanic tells you that you need new brakes to ensure you’re ready for the winter’s icy and snow-covered roads. While completing the tune-up, your mechanic accidentally installs the wrong brake pads for the make and model of our vehicle. As a result, your brakes are all but useless when you need to slow down while going down an icy hill in your neighborhood. You hit a tree and suffer a traumatic brain injury. In this instance, your mechanic could be held liable for your medical bills.
Types of Compensation You Can Recover
Besides the medical bills touched on in the above example, your mechanic can be held liable for additional damages. For instance, your TBI could make it so that you’re unable to work for several months. Your mechanic could be held responsible for your loss of income. The same is true if you’re able to go back to work, but experience a diminished capacity to carry out your regular role. Additional types of compensation include burial costs, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life.
You may be hesitant to sue your favorite mechanic for negligence, but doing so could be your only recourse. Explore your rights and legal options with an attorney.