Most drivers know that if they fail to maintain their vehicles properly, they run a greater risk of being involved in a car accident. So we take our vehicles into licensed repair shops for regular service. And when we notice a problem, we schedule a special repair.
The automotive repair and maintenance industry in Florida has been taking in close to $3 billion annually for the past few years, and projections expect revenues to exceed that amount in the coming years.
But the value consumers receive for their automotive repair dollars is not always equal to the expense. Repair shops often fail to provide adequate training to technicians, and they rush through work to keep their revenues high. When their negligent repairs cause accidents, they should be held accountable.
Legal Duties of Motor Vehicle Repair Facilities
Florida laws place specific duties on mechanics and vehicle repair facilities. For instance, under Fla. Stat. §559.920, repair shops and their employees are not allowed to substitute used parts for new replacement parts or misrepresent that repairs have been made that were not made. The statute also prohibits them from failing to follow “accepted practices and professional standards” or from having work subcontracted out without notifying the customer.
As a business serving the public, a repair facility is reasonably expected to have work performed by qualified mechanics. These mechanics should inspect and test the vehicle after repairs are complete. Failure to meet legal obligations can make the motor vehicle repair shop liable for harm that results.
Mechanical Issues That Frequently Cause Accidents
Not all faulty repairs will lead to accidents, of course. If an auto body shop leaves scratches on a vehicle or fails to match paint correctly, for instance, those poor repairs are not likely to injure anyone. However, if an auto body shop fails to repair frame damage correctly, this puts occupants of the vehicle and others on the road in danger.
A twisted frame can cause a car to lean to one side, particularly at higher speeds, making it unstable and increasing the potential for rollover accidents. Mash damage to the frame caused by a rear-end or head-on collision makes the frame accordion onto itself, affecting the integrity and ability to protect occupants of the vehicle. Sway damage that occurs when a car is in a T-bone accident causes the frame to bend and makes the vehicle drift left or right instead of driving. straight.
Some of the most common mechanical problems that lead to accidents include:
- Brake problems
- Loose lug nuts
- Transmission issues
- Problems with steering tie rods
- Defects in tires
- Malfunctions with windshield wipers
Tires and brake systems often account for most of the problems that cause accidents, but virtually any mechanical problem can distract the driver or cause a loss of control that leads to an accident.
Auto Repair Negligence
When a repair shop fails to perform repairs up to professional standards, their negligence can lead to accidents with severe injuries. Mechanics might forget to attach components or install the wrong parts. They often damage critical components such as airbags or brakes during the course of repair work. Workers frequently fail to complete repairs properly or fail to notice and report serious safety problems when doing inspections. Shop employees also leave potentially dangerous debris or foreign objects in places where they impair vehicle operation.
Mechanics remove tires from vehicles all day long. If they forget to tighten the lug nuts and the shop does not implement an inspection protocol to check for errors, this negligence can easily cause an accident when the loose tire detaches from the vehicle.
Owners’ Responsibilities for Maintenance
Florida law makes vehicle owners responsible for properly maintaining their vehicles. They often entrust that responsibility to professionals who may let them down.
However, if an owner notices a problem after they bring the vehicle home from the shop, they do have a duty to investigate and take corrective action if possible. For instance, if a repair shop fails to tighten the lug nuts on a tire and the driver notices strange noises from the tire while driving, both the owner and the repair facility could be held liable if the wheel comes off and causes injuries.
If You Suspect Auto Repair Negligence Played a Role in a Crash, an Attorney Can Help You Recover Damages
Although Florida’s PIP rules affect many car accident cases in the state, when a third party such as a repair shop is liable for the harm, then the possibilities for recovery increase. To talk to an experienced attorney at the Maus Law Firm about the potential in your case, contact us today for a free case evaluation.