Auto Repair Negligent: Can I Sue the Mechanic or Auto Repair Shop for Bad Service?
Most people rely on auto repair garages, independent mechanics, or service stations to keep their cars running properly. Trained mechanics have the knowledge and skills to diagnose mechanical issues and make repairs. If you have been seriously injured in an accident in Queens and you suspect shoddy repair work caused the accident, you may have the right to hold the repair shop financially accountable for your crash and injuries.
People who are injured in auto accidents in New York start the claims process by filing a claim against their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance for medical bills. If your injuries are serious, your medical costs may exceed the limits of your PIP insurance. You may have a right to file a claim against the insurance of the at-fault party that caused the accident.
Unfortunately, the auto repair shop is unlikely to admit voluntarily that its faulty repair work caused your accident. You’ll need an experienced personal injury lawyer to gather evidence demonstrating liability for the accident. In Queens, NY, an auto repair negligence attorney at The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., can help you determine whether an auto repair shop or mechanic can be held financially accountable for your injuries and losses.
Contact The Tadchiev Law Firm today to set up a free consultation. If you are wondering, “Can I sue the mechanic or auto repair shop for negligence?” we can review the details and discuss whether you have a valid negligence claim.
Your Rights When Dealing With a New York Mechanic or Auto Repair Shop
New York State law has a consumer bill of rights that provides protection to people when they deal with automotive repair shops. The Repair Shop Act requires that an automotive service center, garage, or mechanic:
- Provide a written estimate of the parts and labor necessary for each specific repair
- Provide a written work order and not perform any services unless you give your permission
- Provide a detailed invoice listing each repair done, each part replaced, the cost for each, and the cost of labor
- Identify on the invoice any parts used in repairs that are used or not of original quality
- Allow you to inspect your vehicle at the shop before paying for repairs
- Return all replaced parts, except warranty and exchange parts – but you must ask for them in writing before any work is done
- List the terms and time limits of any repair warranty or guarantee on the invoice.
You can protect yourself by dealing only with repair shops that are registered with the N.Y. State Department of Motor Vehicles. All registered repair shops display a green and white sign outside the shop that says, “Registered State of New York Motor Vehicle Repair Shop.” A DMV registration certificate must hang inside the shop.
You should keep all records of your car repair or maintenance, including:
- Work order
- Guarantees and warranties.
These will be the first source of evidence if you have a complaint.
If you authorize repair work by phone, write down the date and time, the name of the person you spoke with, any estimated price quoted, and other pertinent details.
If you attempt to resolve a problem with repair work by speaking to the mechanic and/or management at the business, keep a written record of all contacts and the gist of discussions.
Ask the DMV to Mediate Your Complaint
New York law allows you to file a complaint with the DMV’s Vehicle Safety Consumer Services Section within 90 days or 3,000 miles after vehicle repairs, whichever comes first.
The DMV will first try to mediate the complaint. If mediation fails, DMV will investigate the matter. If the shop violated the Repair Shop Act or other regulations, DMV will either send a warning letter to the shop or schedule a hearing. If a hearing determines that there were violations, DMV may suspend or revoke the shop’s registration and/or impose fines.
At a hearing, the administrative law judge may rule that you deserve restitution, but DMV cannot force a shop to pay you. You may take a claim for financial restitution to small claims court. Most disputes about auto repairs are handled by small claims court.
Do I Have the Right to Sue For Negligence?
When we discuss suing for negligence, it is usually regarding a significant personal injury someone has suffered because of another individual’s or business’s actions or failure to act. For example, if you were injured in a car accident because your vehicle’s brakes failed, you would have the basis of a lawsuit if you could demonstrate the mechanic who recently worked on your brakes did something that caused them to fail.
A personal injury lawsuit requires four basic elements:
- A duty of care. A mechanic, garage, service center is legally obligated to provide competent repair and maintenance services if it offers such services to the public.
- A breach of duty. The service provider failed to provide competent repair or maintenance.
- Damages. You have been injured physically, psychologically, and/or financially in a car accident.
- Proximate cause. The service provider’s breach of duty was the direct cause of your injuries and financial losses.
Under New York law, if the accident caused severe injuries, you may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit and seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income (due to injuries)
- Property damage repair
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring or permanent loss of limb
- Punitive damages (for particularly egregious behavior, i.e., fraud).
How Can I Prove That a Repair Shop Was Negligent?
Your personal injury lawsuit against a repair shop would have to demonstrate to the court’s satisfaction that the repair shop’s faulty repairs led to your car accident and injuries.
The documents from repair work on your vehicle would establish the fact of the work and a relationship that established a duty of care. You would then need to show that the repair work was faulty and was the cause of your injuries.
In a car accident, various evidence may show the failure of a car part or system led to the accident. For example, brake failure might be shown by:
- Data from the vehicle’s “black box” event data recorder, which shows brakes engaged just before a crash and disengaged acceleration but no corresponding reduction in speed
- Lack of skid marks (from braking) at the crash scene
- Excessive vehicle damage and severe injures indicative of a vehicle’s high speed
In some cases, accident reconstruction specialists might be called upon to determine how a car accident occurred.
Then, your claim would also show the costs and losses you have suffered because of your injuries.
Initially, you would make your claim to the business or individual businessperson, who would likely deny responsibility, at least at first. Our attorneys would gather evidence of your significant injuries and losses and submit a demand letter to the auto repair shop’s insurance carrier seeking compensation to cover your losses.
At this point, our attorneys would try to negotiate with the insurer to reach a settlement. If the insurer refuses to settle, the next step would be to file a personal injury lawsuit and seek justice through the New York courts.
Contact a Queens Car Accident Attorney
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident that may have been caused by faulty car repairs, contact a car accident lawyer at The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., today. We can investigate the accident and handle all contact with insurers, including filing a lawsuit if necessary. We are strong advocates for car accident victims in Queens.
We charge no fees unless we recover compensation for you, and we offer a free case review to answer any questions you may have. Call us today or reach out online.