Can Auto Repair Shops Be Liable for a Car Accident?
If you are involved in an automobile crash due to poor vehicle maintenance or repairs, the auto repair shop or mechanic may be liable. This means that the repair shop’s insurer may be responsible for providing compensatory damages for your medical expenses, car damage, pain and suffering, lost income, and more. These kinds of lawsuits can be complicated, so it is helpful to understand the mechanics’ responsibilities, examples of careless repair work, and how to prove the garage was at fault for your crash.
The Garage’s Responsibility
If an individual takes their car to a professional for repairs or scheduled maintenance work, the auto repair shop and the mechanic must undertake work on their vehicle with a reasonable standard of care, which include the following:
- Undertaking repairs in a cautious, skilled, and professional manner
- Demonstrating the standard knowledge and skills expected of mechanics in the area of auto repair
- Inspecting and test driving your car to ensure it is safe for use
- Refraining from undertaking unnecessary repairs
Careless Repair Work
While most licensed garages are responsible and trustworthy, the auto repair industry is also riddled with unscrupulous people who attempt to profit by performing sub-standard repair work. Sometimes even a normally reliable repair shop or mechanic can be negligent. In such cases, they may be held responsible if their carelessness causes you to get into a wreck.
Say you take your vehicle for an oil change and the mechanic forgets to reattach the hose, causing you to lose power and become involved in a crash. Potentially, the garage or mechanic may be liable to pay you for damages.
Examples of negligent repair work may also include the following:
- Failing to properly repair auto parts that are worn or damaged
- Failing to fully inspect the car, thereby not noticing significant, demonstrable issues that necessitate repairs
- Installing an incorrect part when replacing a damaged or defective part
- Undertaking the wrong auto repair or maintenance procedure
- Causing damage to the engine or another vehicle part when performing work that has been agreed upon
- Modifying the vehicle in a manner that would make it illegal to drive on a public road
- Inability to remove objects, such as debris, that got into the automobile before or during the repair work
Notably, if the mechanic recommends you get something repaired, but you decide not to, the mechanic can no longer be held responsible if that issue causes or contributes to an accident.
Establishing the Mechanic or Garage was Liable
Similar to cases of product liability, negligent vehicle repair crash cases may be quite challenging to prove. The repair business may try to show that you caused the crash due to reckless driving. They can also try to prove that you did not appropriately maintain the vehicle post-repair.
To support your claim that the mechanic or garage was responsible, you will need to provide solid evidence. If you are involved in an accident, take pictures of the vehicle, the specific element that you believe caused or contributed to the crash, the road conditions, and your injuries. Call law enforcement. The police officer will assess the site and create a report, which will be used as proof. Speak to witnesses and get their names and contact details.
Automotive Repair Act
Sadly, a mechanic may still repair a vehicle poorly even when a person takes precautions. Under California law, the Automotive Repair Act governs such situations, necessitating auto repair businesses to meet specific criteria. According to the law, mechanics must:
- Keep records of all service completed and parts supplied in an invoice
- Document if used parts were supplied
- Offer clients written price quotes for parts and labor
- Acquire customer authorization before commencing any repair work
- Abstain from charging for extra work or parts that were not included in the initial quotation without customer consent
- Return replaced parts to the client when the work is completed (if requested)
- Maintain their records for a minimum of three years
Failure to comply with the above standards may cause a repair dealer to be held responsible for the omission. Moreover, if the car is involved in an accident due to substandard repairs, the mechanic can be held liable for vehicle damage, medical expenses, and lost income.
While some garages post disclaimers on “not being held responsible for accidents caused by repairs,” such claims cannot prevent you from being able to hold them liable if you sustain injuries and damages due to their shoddy repair work.
Consult Our Experienced Southern California Car Accident Attorneys
If you were involved in a car crash due to mechanical failure, you might be entitled to sue for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, among other damages. The attorneys at the law offices of Garmo & Garmo in La Mesa, CA have represented countless clients over the years and can help you collect the compensatory damages you deserve.
Schedule a free case review today and understand what legal options may be available for seeking compensation in your situation. We do not charge any upfront fees, and you only need to pay if we recover compensation on your behalf. Call us today at (619) 441-2500.