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Can a Mechanic or Auto Repair Shop be Liable for a Car Accident?

Mechanic

Car accidents happen every day and for many different reasons. However, what if a car accident resulted from a mechanic’s negligence? Could an injured driver hold the mechanic or auto repair shop liable for the accident? These questions may come up after someone is in a car accident because of a faulty tire, brake, or another auto part.

Although it is possible to file suit against a mechanic or repair shop, winning this type of lawsuit requires clear and strong documentation to prove that the mechanic’s actions directly caused the collision. For this reason, it is important to contact a lawyer after this type of accident.

Transactional Expectations Between a Mechanic and Car Owner

When a car owner brings their vehicle to an auto technician, repair shop, or car dealership, they enter into a transactional agreement. The car owner agrees to give up temporary physical control of their vehicle. The mechanic is expected to honor this transaction by doing work under the implicit or explicit agreement. The goal of this type of relationship is for both parties to get value from the arrangement. The car owner gets the value of knowing that the car has been fixed. In turn, the mechanic is paid for acting responsibly and professionally.

If the mechanic breaches this expected duty of care by acting negligently, they may be liable or the shop may be responsible. For instance, if a mechanic replaces a car’s tires with faulty, used patched tires without the driver knowing, the mechanic puts the driver at risk. If the driver subsequently gets into a serious crash linked to a tire blowout, full or partial fault could lie with the mechanic.

Some examples of a mechanic acting negligently include:

  • Incorrectly replacing hoses or belts during a routine maintenance visit.
  • Allowing an untrained technician to work on a vehicle.
  • Failing to ensure all parts are correctly put back after a repair.
  • Knowingly installing auto parts that are dangerous or faulty.
  • Not doing the job as hired or damaging the vehicle.

How Do I Know That a Mechanic’s Negligence Caused My Car Accident?

After an accident, a driver might believe that a mechanic is completely or partly at fault for the crash. Proving negligence can be tricky, however. It is not enough to merely think that a technician or auto shop is negligent. There must be proof that the mechanic or auto shop caused the car accident. Proving that connection can be difficult, especially without the help of a legal professional.

For example, a driver might take a car to a mechanic to have the brakes repaired. After paying the mechanic for replacement brakes and the cost of labor, the car owner could take the vehicle onto the highway for a test run. Once on the highway, the brakes could suddenly fail. The driver might then slam into the back of another car, causing serious injuries. In this scenario, it is critical that the car owner has paperwork that indicates the brakes had just been replaced and should not have failed. Ideally, the mechanic would give the car owner descriptive paperwork outlining their work.

After the crash, another technician might try to look at the damaged vehicle’s brakes to see if there is any indication that they are faulty or improperly installed. Even with documentation, a mechanic’s insurance provider might argue that the driver might not have braked quickly enough, leading to the crash. The burden of proof would be on the car owner. The car owner must clearly show the mechanic contributed to the accident and injuries.

How Does Comparative Negligence Play a Role?

In Delaware, comparative negligence is factored into car accident cases. If the plaintiff is found to be 50 percent or less at fault for an accident, they may be entitled to damages. Even if a mechanic proves that a driver is partially responsible for an accident, they can still be held liable to an extent.

When Should I Contact a Lawyer?

Expenses after a car accident can add up very quickly. Any claims exceeding several thousand dollars may warrant a visit to a lawyer who helps clients recover damages from insurance providers and third parties, like auto technicians, car dealerships, and vehicle repair shops.

Although it is possible for an individual to negotiate with an insurance adjuster or even file a claim in court against a third party, retaining legal counsel can make life less stressful. Statistically, plaintiffs tend to get a much higher settlement offer when they work with a lawyer. Additionally, trying to deal with rapidly approaching deadlines can be difficult for someone recovering from a significant or catastrophic accident. A lawyer can handle all the deadlines and paperwork.

Additionally, putting blame on a mechanic or auto repair shop can be complicated and require specialized assistance. Speaking to a lawyer is beneficial in this situation.

Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can Help You Determine if a Mechanic’s Negligence Caused Your Collision

Although it is difficult to prove, a mechanic or repair shop may be partially liable for a collision. If you suspect that an accident was caused by a mechanic or auto repair shop, speak with one of our Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.