Mechanic repair lawsuits refer to a large umbrella of cases that involve issues regarding vehicle repairs and mechanics or automobile repair shops. For example, a car owner may sue a mechanic for performing unauthorized or unnecessary repairs, providing false or misleading payment estimates, or for breach of warranty.
Each state has its own set of auto repair laws that go by various names, but are primarily enacted for the purposes of protecting the average consumer. For instance, many states have laws that address unfair and deceptive practices in car repairs.
Such laws typically provide guidelines for repair shops to abide by like correcting improper repair work without charging a car owner an extra fee or conspicuously posting the prices of car parts where consumers can see them.
Part of the reason that these state laws were passed was to prevent mechanics from taking advantage of uninformed customers. Once it was discovered that mechanics could lie and bolster the price of car parts or service rates, consumers began filing claims for mechanic malpractice, or more accurately, mechanic negligence.
Thus, you may be able to sue for mechanic malpractice or negligence if your mechanic failed to disclose exactly what work was being done on your vehicle, gave you price rates that were missing certain estimates, or if they neglected to repair your vehicle in a timely and reasonable fashion.
Can You Sue a Mechanic for Misdiagnosis?
A mechanic misdiagnosis, also known as a “faulty diagnosis” or simply as a “mistaken repair”, occurs when a mechanic does not identify the true problem. For instance, if a vehicle is making a strange sound that the mechanic determines is part of the steering system, when in fact it is actually coming from the brakes, then this will be considered an example of a misdiagnosis.
A good and honest mechanic or repair shop will immediately confess to their error in judgment and will typically fix the issue for no charge. However, if the mechanic or repair shop refuses to accept responsibility or claims that it is not their fault, then the vehicle owner may seek legal recourse for a misdiagnosis. The most common option of legal recourse is to sue the mechanic for negligence.
In a misdiagnosis negligence case, the vehicle owner will need to prove that the mechanic failed to exercise the same level of care that any other reasonable auto repair mechanic would have used in the same or a similar scenario. The vehicle owner will also have to prove that the misdiagnosis was foreseeable, the mechanic’s carelessness caused the property damage, and that the damage done to the car is quantifiable.
What Can I Do If a Mechanic Damages My Car While It’s Being Repaired?
One thing a vehicle owner can do for a car damaged by garage during service is to sue either the repair shop and/or the individual mechanic. For example, if a mechanic caused damage to a car while they were repairing it, then the owner can hold them liable for those damages. Alternatively, if the repair shop has an insurance policy, then damages will most likely be covered by the repair shop’s insurance.
Before immediately taking legal action, however, a vehicle owner should first speak to the mechanic or individual in charge of the repair shop, and ask if they would be willing to fix the damage. Savvy businesses strive to keep their customers happy, so oftentimes a mechanic will repair the problem that they caused for free.
If the mechanic and/or repair shop refuses to or cannot fix the damage done, then the vehicle owner should consider taking legal action. In the event that the owner decides they want to sue, they should contact a local automotive lawyer for further assistance.
An automotive lawyer can determine whether they have a viable claim, how much the individual will recover if they win the lawsuit, and can discuss other potential options that may be available for legal recourse.
An automotive lawyer may also reach out to the repair shop and/or mechanic on a vehicle owner’s behalf before filing a claim. By opening communication lines, the lawyer may be able to persuade the repair shop to either fix the damage or to settle out of court, so no one has to experience the added stress of a trial.
What if My Car or its Contents are Stolen While in the Mechanic’s Possession?
Mechanics are legally required to take reasonable care to protect a person’s vehicle while it is in their possession. A mechanic may be held liable for a stolen vehicle, but only in certain situations. For example, if a mechanic carelessly leaves the keys to an unlocked car inside the vehicle, then the vehicle owner may hold them responsible for theft if it is stolen.
On the other hand, if a mechanic took all the necessary reasonable steps to ensure that the vehicle would be safe, then they cannot be held liable for theft of the vehicle or any other related losses. However, some repair shops do have insurance coverage that can help an owner to recover some of the costs.
In addition, each state has its own laws regarding theft of stolen items that are attached to a vehicle. The majority of states also have regulations (known as “garage keeper liability laws”) that protect both the vehicle and the items that are attached to the vehicle. For instance, a mechanic may be held liable if a vehicle’s tires, stereo system, or other car parts are stolen.
Thus, a mechanic shop will generally be liable for a stolen vehicle or for the loss of items attached to a person’s vehicle. A mechanic typically will not, however, be responsible for the theft of any personal property that was stored in a vehicle, such as laptops, cell phone chargers, or expensive sunglasses.
What Does Mechanic Liability Insurance Pay For?
Mechanic liability insurance is a specific type of insurance policy that is meant to protect mechanics and auto repair shops from liabilities that may arise as a result of unexpected accidents like property damage to a vehicle, faulty repairs, or if a customer waiting to pick up their car gets injured in the repair shop.
Although the kinds of damages that mechanic liability insurance covers will vary by policy, it typically offers coverage for the following types of damages:
- Physical injuries;
- Property damage;
- Defective products sold by a shop;
- Faulty repairs; and/or
- Medical expenses.
Do I Need an Attorney for Help with Automobile Mechanic Liability Issues?
As is evident from the above discussion, when you leave your car at a repair shop, the mechanic working on your vehicle can be held liable for actions that fall below a certain level of care.
Yet, these cases can be very difficult to handle without the assistance of a car mechanic lawyer due to the complexity of laws involved in automobile mechanic liability matters, including car repair warranty law, bailments, garage keeper laws, negligence, and products liability laws. Thus, if your vehicle and/or parts of your vehicle have been stolen or damaged, you should consider contacting a local consumer protection lawyer for further legal guidance.
Your lawyer can help you to identify, prepare, and file the proper legal claims against a mechanic. In addition, your lawyer can discuss your options for legal recourse and can determine how much you could potentially recover if you were to win a lawsuit.
Lastly, your lawyer can also make sure that your legal rights as a consumer are being adequately protected and can provide representation in court if necessary.