Individuals may bring their automobile to a mechanic for repairs. Repairs are needed for many reasons. Individuals may sue the mechanic for defective mechanic work. Defective mechanic work, also called faulty repair work, occurs when a mechanic negligently makes repairs that result in vehicle damage or injury to people.

What is Defective Mechanic Work?

To repair a vehicle, mechanics may fix, adjust, replace, or remove one or more parts. A mechanic must perform repairs using a reasonable standard of care. This means the mechanic may not act negligently. To make repairs under a reasonable standard of care, a mechanic must use the standard knowledge, skills, professionalism, and “know-how” expected of a mechanic.

To act with skill and professionalism in making repairs, a mechanic must (among other things):

  • Ensure that a vehicle brought in for inspection is repaired so it is safe for driving;
  • Replace, remove, adjust, or upgrade parts, with the skill expected of a mechanic making such repairs;
  • Make only repairs that are necessary; and
  • Make only those repairs that a customer authorized.

What is “Reasonable”?

What is “reasonable” in “reasonable standard of care” depends upon the circumstances. If a person brings a vehicle to a mechanic for repairs covered by a warranty, the mechanic must use the skill and care required to make warranty repairs. If a person brings an electric or hybrid vehicle to a mechanic for repairs, the mechanic must use the knowledge and skill that a mechanic who repairs such vehicles is expected to use. 

What are Specific Examples of Negligent Work?

Negligent work includes repairs that were performed inadequately or were not performed. Examples of negligent work include:

  • Installing the wrong parts;
  • Failing to perform the correct procedure for a specific repair; 
  • Failure to completely repair damaged parts;
  • Failing to identify obviously needed repairs that a mechanic acting with a reasonable standard of care would notice; or
  • Damaging one or more parts of the vehicle as the repairs are performed

What Must an Individual Suing a Mechanic Demonstrate?

An individual suing a mechanic for defective work must show the mechanic did not act with a reasonable standard of care, and that as a result, property damage or injury occurred. There must be a causal relationship between the mechanic’s failing to act properly, and the defective work.

This means the former must cause the latter. If an individual is injured by defective repair work, the individual must show the defective repair work caused injuries that can be compensated for in terms of money. If damage to the vehicle or other property occurs, the individual must demonstrate the damage was caused by the defective repair work. The individual must demonstrate the damage can be compensated for in measurable (monetary) terms.

What Happens if a Mechanic Intentionally Damages a Vehicle?

Instead of acting negligently, a mechanic may deliberately make a faulty repair. Intentionally defective repairs are intentional torts (a tort is a civil wrong, other than a breach of contract, for which the law provides a remedy). In an intentional torts case involving a mechanic, the individual who sues the mechanic must show that the mechanic intended to commit the act, or acted with reckless disregard as to the consequences of the act.

A mechanic may commit an intentional tort by deliberately failing to do something that results in violation of the law. For example, a mechanic may deliberately fail to accurately record certain readings that must be recorded as part of an inspection. If a mechanic falsely certifies that a vehicle has passed inspection based on these “doctored” numbers, the mechanic may be fined or jailed.

When is a Mechanic Not Liable?

A mechanic is not liable if they provide proper advice about a repair, and the user then fails to have the repair made. An example of this is when a mechanic advises that a tire is wearing out and must be replaced after a specific amount of miles. If the person receiving the advice ignores the advice, fails to change the tire, and then the worn-out tire causes damage, the mechanic is not liable. Mechanics are not liable for users’ negligence.

In addition, a mechanic who provides services and does not receive payment may file a mechanic’s lien on the vehicle. This lien (claim on property) may entitle the mechanic to keep the vehicle until payment is made. A lien is not valid when the mechanic did not perform the services for which the money is sought.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Defective Mechanic Work Claim?

If you believe a mechanic made defective repairs on your car, you should contact a consumer lawyer. An experienced lawyer near you can review the facts of your case, advise you as to your rights and options, and can represent you in court.