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Could the Mechanic Shop Be Liable for Your Crash?

By David Boehrer | Posted on January 06, 2020

Mechanics that falsify auto repair records or inspection reports can be held liable for injuries if a crash occurs.

Liability for Losses Caused by False Auto Repair Records

If a mechanic or other responsible party lied about vehicle repairs or falsified repair or inspection records and a crash occurs, injured victims can file a lawsuit against those parties. However, winning the lawsuit depends on establishing proof that the repairs were not made and that the crash was caused by the defective or malfunctioning parts.

If a car owner becomes aware of the falsified records before a crash occurs, he or she can notify the mechanic that problems were not repaired, but charges were made for repairs. The car owner can insist that repairs should be done free of charge. If the mechanic refuses the request, the car owner can contact the state’s Bureau of Automotive Repairs. If an accident occurs before the repairs are made, the car owner can contact an accident lawyer to discuss legal remedies for crash liability.

In a recent New York case, a discount tire shop falsified records, claiming that brake repairs were completed on a limousine. A few months later, the limousine crashed killing 20 people. Experts claim that catastrophic brake failure caused the accident. The manager of the repair shop said he purchased a master brake cylinder and charged the customer for repairs. After a civil lawsuit for crash damages and passenger deaths was filed, it was discovered that the master brake cylinder was never installed, despite invoices and records that showed it was. According to the County District Attorney, the master brake cylinder was returned to the auto parts dealer eight days after purchase.

A lawsuit against Prestige Limousine alleges that the company kept the vehicle on the road despite two failed inspections and orders to remove the limo from service. The inspections were performed by the New York Department of Transportation, the state agency that handles inspections of limousines equipped to carry 11 or more passengers. 

The crash killed the driver, 17 passengers, and 2 pedestrians in the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store in Schoharie, New York. Lawsuits against the store contend that Apple Barrel should have known the parking lot was dangerous and taken steps to prevent injuries and deaths.

The son of the owner of Prestige Limo told investigators he was running the company while his father was away. He has been charged with 20 counts of criminally negligent homicide and 20 counts of second-degree manslaughter, charges that could result in a life prison sentence if convicted.

Car Repair Scams

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), consumers are scammed out of billions of dollars in faulty or unnecessary car repairs every year. Auto repair problems make up the largest group of consumer complaints seen by federal and state agencies around the country. Unfortunately, unethical mechanics can easily deceive vehicle owners that repairs are necessary when they’re not, or repairs were completed when they weren’t.

New automobiles have complex, high-tech mechanical systems that can make it difficult for many people to work on their own cars. The average car owner is forced to rely on an auto mechanic for car maintenance and repairs, creating an easy path to deception for unethical mechanics and repair shops. Since many Nevada consumers depend on car mechanics to perform necessary repairs, proving repair fraud without a Henderson accident lawyer is often difficult.

The U.S. Consumer Protection Agency is aware of numerous types of scams involving car mechanics.

  • Highway bandit scams
  • Maintenance hook scams
  • Bait and switch scams
  • Sub-standard and counterfeit car parts
  • Falsified part and labor charges
  • Falsified repair invoices and records

Preventing False Repairs and Accidents

Notifying the local consumer protection agency, state attorney general’s office, or the Better Business Bureau when false repair or inspection reports are made can help prevent crashes from happening.

Additionally, the following can help prevent accidents and injuries from falsified repair scams.

  • Choosing car repair shops with certified auto mechanics
  • Performing a background check on the repair shop
  • Getting several estimates from different shops
  • Getting a written estimate before authorizing any repairs
  • Making sure repairs are guaranteed
  • Making sure the work was completed as stated

If falsified repair scams result in a car crash, victims can file a lawsuit through an accident lawyer for property damages and injuries. If someone dies in the crash, the family of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit with an accident lawyer based on the negligent actions of the repair shop or car mechanic. Maintaining accurate vehicle service records and keeping mechanic shop invoices can help car owners and their accident lawyers ensure that mechanics are held liable when falsified repair reports cause a crash.

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