As with other professions, an automobile mechanic has a responsibility to customers. An auto mechanic’s duty is to insure vehicle repairs are performed properly and in accordance with current standards. so that motor vehicle accidents do not happen as a result of professional negligence.
When an auto mechanic fails in his obligation to a customer and that customer suffers personal injury, damage or loss which is attributable to the mechanic’s negligence the mechanic may be liable for damages to the customer.
There are components to a negligent repair action that must be proven. Firstly, it must be proved the mechanic had a duty to use ordinary and reasonable care. Ordinary care, generally means the care that a reasonable man would exercise under the circumstances. Reasonable care can also be defined as the degree of caution and concern for the safety of himself/herself and others an ordinarily prudent and rational person would use in the circumstances.
The standard of care expected by an auto mechanic also depends on the nature of the repairs. A higher standard is expected for repairs such as brakes, wheels and steering.
The second element to a successful negligent repair action is proof the mechanic was negligent, or careless, in performing the repairs. The final factor is proving the auto mechanic’s negligent repairs were the reason for the customer’s injury, damage or loss. The customer does not have to prove the mechanic’s negligence was the sole or only cause of the customer’s loss, but must show the improper repairs were the main reason for the loss.
A sampling of court cases is illustrative for establishing a negligent auto mechanic’s repair action.
In one case, the Plaintiff had taken his vehicle into a mechanic because it was stalling frequently. The mechanic decided the stalling episodes were due to a faulty alternator. The car was returned to the Plaintiff with a repaired alternator.
The car continued to stall and the Plaintiff returned several times to the Defendant to complain. The mechanic did not find the reason for the stalling problem.
On one occasion, the vehicle stalled while the Plaintiff was driving on a highway. He pulled over to the side to wait for assistance. While he sat in his stalled vehicle, a drunk driver struck his vehicle causing him multiple severe injuries.
The Plaintiff’s expert mechanic gave evidence the wiring harness was responsible for the stalling, not the alternator, and the vehicle manufacturer had issued a technician’s service bulletin to this effect. The mechanic who repaired the alternator had failed to consult the bulletin.
The case was eventually settled with the mechanic and drunk driver paying damages to the Plaintiff.
In another case, a 37 year-old nurse practitioner was struck on the head by the hatchback of her Subaru. The hydraulic struts came off their anchors causing the hatchback to fall. The struts had been improperly replaced by a car dealership, which admitted negligence. The woman suffered head injuries and was only permitted to work part-time.
The jury assessed liability for the woman’s injuries against the car dealership and awarded the woman damages.
A negligent repair action can be somewhat different from the majority of car wreck cases. Expert testimony on mechanical repairs is necessary. If you suspect improper auto mechanic repairs are the reason behind your motor vehicle accident, it is strongly recommended you contact an attorney knowledgeable about auto mechanic negligence and personal injury for legal advice.