Mechanic Shop Negligence
Between going to work and running essential errands, not having a functional vehicle makes life difficult. We place trust in mechanics to keep our vehicles in good working condition. So, when someone violates that trust and causes an accident because of faulty repairs, we may wonder “Can I sue a mechanic for negligence?”
The simple answer is that, yes, mechanics can be liable for damages related to an auto accident. It’s the reason that nearly all shops carry a “garage keepers” insurance policy, which covers liability stemming from personal injury, among other things. Even with that insurance, you may need an experienced Chicago car accident injury law firm to establish negligence.
Langdon & Emison helps personal injury victims from Chicago and nearby regions recover as much money as possible after their car accidents. Call us today at (312) 855-0700 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
How can I prove that a repair shop was negligent?
In the eyes of the law, negligence involves four main areas:
- Duty of care: The defendant (or policyholder) had a duty of care established by the law and professional standards.
- Breach: The defendant violated their duty of care, such as by failing to fully re-attach critical vehicle components during a repair.
- Proximate Cause of Injury: The carelessness of the defendant directly caused an injury, such as an economic injury related to repairing your car or a bodily injury from an accident.
- Damages: Your injury resulted in damages that can be recovered through legal action.
Proving that an auto mechanic made a mistake can be straightforward. All you have to do is compare the job that was performed to the standards of the industry and the minimum expectations of the customer.
However, proving that a faulty repair directly led to damages can be difficult. The victim of the alleged injury must establish through a preponderance of evidence that it was more likely than not that the faulty repair was the cause.
Knowing this, repair shops will deny liability in nearly 100% of cases. They may never directly deny that a mistake was made, but they will use any means necessary to say that the accident in question had nothing to do with a repair mistake. Instead, they will allege that the accident was the fault of the owner of the vehicle or the driver of the other vehicle that hit them.
In these situations, the claimant/plaintiff is the one responsible for proving that the mechanic’s faulty professional work was a contributing cause of the accident. They must argue that the accident would not have happened had the work been performed according to the expected professional standard.
To do so, they may require extensive evidence. Such evidence can include conclusions drawn by an investigation of the accident in conjunction with input from experts in collision physics or vehicle engineering.
Proving Faulty Repairs Can Be Easier Than Proving Liability
In situations where a clearly faulty repair was made, the owner of the vehicle may have an easier time seeking damages related directly to the repair itself, not necessarily any accident that came later.
For example, the bad repair may have caused damage to a vehicle that required additional work to fix. Or, the owner can claim the cost of the repair itself in an attempt to have the repair performed properly by a more qualified mechanic.
Illinois law can help in these situations. The Automotive Repair Act establishes that consumers are protected from deceptive practices by mechanics’ shops. If, for example, a mechanic performs a different repair than promised or uses a substandard part, the law offers clear protections in making the mechanic responsible for the financial consequences.
But car accidents are a different matter. One of the biggest challenges an injury victim will face when proving mechanics’ negligence is that a defendant or their insurer can cast doubt upon the conclusion that a bad repair caused an accident.
Sometimes, a repair shop may also argue that a car accident was not a “foreseeable” consequence of the faulty repair. In other words, because the mechanic had no way of knowing that a simple mistake would lead to an accident, they argue that they are not technically negligent according to the letter of the law.
In cases where the faulty repair was a contributing factor, the defendant will attempt to minimize the role the faulty work had in the accident to the extent possible. Illinois uses a “modified comparative fault” system to control the apportionment of damages. Each party is responsible for paying the approximate percentage of damages they caused according to their assigned portion of fault.
Further, if the injured claimant/plaintiff is over half (51%) at-fault for the incident, then they cannot recover anything.
Individuals interested in pursuing a claim against a mechanic or repair shop should keep these challenges in mind when presenting their claim. They should not be discouraged when pursuing the compensation that they need, but instead should be encouraged to secure the assistance of experienced attorneys familiar with such cases.
Can I sue a mechanic for negligence? And should I?
Yes, but you may need help from a Chicago car accident lawyer.
The strength of your case will depend on your ability to demonstrate how the mechanic failed in their duty of care and how that failure directly led to your accident. Even in cases where proving that a faulty repair was the sole cause of a collision, injury victims can still pursue claims for partial liability or claims for damages related to the vehicle itself and not the accident.
Discuss your legal options, learn your rights, and explore your possible next steps by talking to a Langdon & Emison lawyer today. Schedule a no-obligation consultation when you call (312) 855-0700 or contact us online.