Can Auto Repair Shops Be Held Liable for a Car Accident?
It may seem counterintuitive. You go to a car shop to have your vehicle repaired but what if the business actually contributed to you getting into an accident?
It can happen.
Have you ever been to a mechanic and left with the problem not resolved? Or another problem happens that wasn’t there before you brought the vehicle in?
Unless you notice the problem right after you drive away, a defect in a vehicle can impact how the vehicle drives and handles. A bolt left off, deflated tires, oil drained but not replaced, an axle cracked, any failure to put the car back together correctly after a repair can lead to devastating injuries.
So who is to blame?
An auto repair shop or the mechanic may be liable for your accident.
Let’s assume you brought your vehicle in for repairs or maintenance. It is the responsibility of a professional shop to do the work to the highest standards. We always assume they will fulfill this responsibility.
After the work is complete, a test drive should be performed to make sure the vehicle is in sound operating condition and the repairs have been completed.
Any additional repairs that you did not authorize need to be discussed. Are you expected to pay for them as well?
If the mechanic cannot do the work, he has an obligation to inform you why he cannot complete the work. You may be disappointed but at least you were informed.
In the case where the work wasn’t done and you were not informed, you may have an action against the shop and the mechanic if a vehicle failure led to injury. If you believe the mechanic tried to rip you off, you can report him to the Better Business Bureau and the state attorney general’s office.
In a case where the mechanic actually caused damage to the car while they were allegedly repairing it, you may have an action against the mechanic and the shop. The repair shop’s insurance policy will need to be responsible for the damages caused.
The Repair Shop
While most repair shops are honest, there are exceptions. Some shops may try to cut corners especially if they think you won’t notice. All professional repair shops owe you a duty of care.
Using a cheaper auto part, claiming to have made a repair that was not made, not completing a repair may save the shop money but could be dangerous for you, the consumer. Parts do not have to be original equipment manufacturer parts but should be of a like kind and quality.
Imagine what would happen if something other than oil was used during your oil change? You might get three blocks from the shop and your engine seizes.
The shop or the mechanic might fail to notice that your vehicle was due to repair recalled items. When that wasn’t done and the latch on a door opens causing injury, who is to blame?
In this case, the shop was negligent and their negligence is what caused your accident.
As your personal injury law firm, we will have to prove negligence. Chip Nix will determine if making an unneeded or incorrect repair to the vehicle caused your injury. Were defective parts used? Were the technicians who worked on your vehicle qualified and trained? Were needed repairs not done?
Another example of negligence would be if your car was stolen while in possession of the shop. If keys were left carelessly for anyone to access, the vehicle owner can hold the shop responsible for the theft.
If the answer to any of the above is yes and their failure led to your injury, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your injury, your lost wages, medical bills, pain, and suffering. Mechanic liability insurance should cover your physical injuries, medical expenses, property damage and the cost of the repairs.
Alabama has a two-year statute of limitations on fraud which would include offenses such as turning back an odometer on a vehicle. The state requires a repair shop to carry general liability, commercial property and errors and omissions insurance.
Let Chip Nix put his 40 years of experience to work for you in exploring your options after you’ve been injured by the negligence of others. Please call our Montgomery office at 334-203-6669 to get started.