Suing a Mechanic for Vehicle Damage
Car repairs and routine maintenance are essential to prolong the life of a car or truck, but what happens if the owner’s vehicle is damaged or vandalized while in the care of a mechanic? Is the mechanic or repair shop liable for damages?
The answer may be surprising, mechanics or business owners may not always be liable for damages that occur. Car owners can sue the mechanic or repair shop, but this process can be long and costly. In the end, there is no guarantee that the consumer will receive compensation.
Legal Responsibilities of Mechanics or Repair Shop Owners
When a customer entrusts their vehicle to a mechanic or auto repair facility, they enter into a bailment agreement. This means that the customer is transferring the care of their property over to the mechanic for a specific amount of time. The mechanic becomes legally obligated to take reasonable precautions to prevent damages to the vehicle while it is in their possession. If the mechanic fails to do so, they may be held liable for negligence.
The owner of the damaged vehicle can sue the mechanic, but the burden of proof that negligence caused the damages falls on the plaintiff. For example, if a car is vandalized at the shop, the mechanic and repair shop owner would not be liable if they ensured that the vehicle was locked and secured on their property. If the mechanic or shop owner left the vehicle unlocked or exposed in a high crime area, they may be held liable for negligence.
If a vehicle suffers damages from an accident or natural disaster while in the care of the repair shop, the shop owner may not be personally liable for damages. This would apply if the vehicle suffered hail damage during a storm, or if a light post or tree fell on the car during high winds. The property owner could not protect the vehicle in these situations so they would not have to pay for the damages.
When is a Mechanic Liable for Damages?
Consumer protection laws protect customers from abuse or deception and make it possible to sue a service provider for certain violations of these laws, such as:
- Falsified estimates.
- Falsified repair invoices.
- Breach of warranty.
- Failure to complete work in a reasonable amount of time.
- Using defective or dangerous products.
- Knowingly using products that have been recalled.
- Performing work that was unauthorized or unnecessary.
- Damage that occurs during the process of performing mechanical work.
- Intentional fraud.
- Stealing personal or mechanical items from the customer’s property.
- Damage caused while the mechanic is test driving the vehicle or during unauthorized use of the vehicle.
- Failure to properly install or reattach mechanical parts such as tires, bolts, or wheel lugs.
An experienced and knowledgeable product liability lawyer can help consumers claim the maximum amount of compensation if they were injured in a car accident caused by an auto defect. If mechanics or repair shop owners are aware of defective products or recalled products, they may be liable for damages.
New Brunswick Product Liability Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Protect Victims from Negligent Mechanics
If you believe your vehicle was damaged by a negligent mechanic, call one of our experienced lawyers today. Our dedicated New Brunswick product liability lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr will fight for your rights and help you obtain compensation for damages that were caused by defective products. Contact us online or call us at 732-249-4600 to schedule a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we also serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia, New Jersey.