Automobile Repair Fraud and Personal Injury
Recently, a San Jose family hired a local mechanic to make some repairs to their car. After picking up the vehicle, the family noticed that there were problems with the steering wheel. Eventually, it was revealed that the car had fallen off of a mechanical lift while in the shop, and the employees had tried to hide the more than $11,000 worth of damage done to the car. Unfortunately, this type of fraudulent activity is relatively common and dangerous. Faulty repairs can cause car accidents that result in devastating and costly physical and emotional injuries.Types of Fraudulent Acts
There are many ways in which an automobile repair company can defraud consumers, including:
- Padding bills so they exceed the initial estimate;
- Making unnecessary repairs for non-existent problems;
- Using substandard or used parts, but charging for new parts;
- Performing substandard repairs;
- Making fraudulent promises or discounts; or
- Falsely claiming to have completed the repair work.
There are a few steps that potential repair shop customers can follow to ensure that their repairs are done competently, including:
- Asking for a written estimate before authorizing any repairs;
- Checking that the shop is registered with the state;
- Obtaining multiple estimates from various shops; and
- Asking the mechanic for any replaced parts.
Unfortunately, even when a person takes precautions, a mechanic may still make substandard repairs to a vehicle. In California, these situations are governed by the Automotive Repair Act, which requires automotive repair dealers to meet certain standards. The law states that mechanics must:
- Record all service completed and parts supplied in an invoice;
- Document whether used parts were supplied;
- Provide customers with written price estimates for labor and parts;
- Obtain authorization from the customer before beginning any repairs;
- Refrain from charging for extra work or parts that were not included in the initial estimate without consent;
- Return replaced parts to the customer when the work is completed if requested; and
- Maintain their records for at least three years.
If a repair dealer does not comply with these standards then he or she can be held liable for the omission. Additionally, if the substandard repairs were the cause of a later car accident, then the mechanic can be held responsible for the cost of damage to the car, as well as medical costs and lost wages.Time Limits
Claims that an automobile repair dealer was negligent in repairing a vehicle must be filed within three years of the substandard repairs. If fraud or misrepresentation are alleged, however, the claim can be filed later, as long as it is within two years of the Bureau of Automotive Repair’s investigation.
Car accidents can have devastating and permanent effects. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident that was caused by an automobile repair dealer’s negligence or fraudulent actions, you may be able to obtain compensation for your losses. An experienced attorney’s counsel can help you understand this complicated area of the law. Please contact the dedicated San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. for a free consultation today at (408) 289-1417.Sources