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Can A Mechanic Be Responsible For Your Car Accident?

January 27, 2023 Car Accidents

If you are involved in a car accident caused by negligent vehicle maintenance or repairs, your mechanic may be liable. 

Mechanic Liability

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Mechanics owe a duty of care to customers to use a reasonable amount of care in completing car repairs. If they fail to do so, resulting in an accident, a mechanic can be held accountable for any injuries, property damage, and other losses caused by their negligence. 

How Can a Mechanic’s Negligence Cause an Accident?

Several types of mechanical failures commonly cause car accidents. These can occur as a result of a mechanic’s negligence, for example, due to a wrongful repair, improper diagnosis, repairs that were never performed (fraudulent repair), installing faulty parts, or performing unsafe repairs. Those common mechanical failures include:

Brake Failure

Brake failures include more than a total loss of braking power. Some of the common causes of brake failure are: 

  • Worn brake pads and discs: Failure to repair and replace worn brake pads and discs can decrease braking performance, causing the vehicle to take longer to stop completely. 
  • Faulty or worn brake lines: Brake lines in need of repair can leak brake fluid, significantly affecting a driver’s brake ability. 
  • Malfunctioning anti-lock braking systems (ABS):  ABS systems are designed to prevent skidding caused by the brakes locking up. When it fails, a vehicle can skid and cause a driver to lose control. 

Tire Failure

Tire malfunctions caused by a mechanic often occur due to the following:

  • Improper tire repair or wall punctures
  • Tire design flaws (which the manufacturer is usually liable for as well)
  • Inadequate tire suitability to the vehicle
  • Poor retread post-purchase
  • Tire damage during the mounting process
  • Manufacturing defects prior to purchase

Any of these negligent errors or defects can lead to a crash—for example, if an improper tire repair causes a blowout, a driver can unexpectedly lose control. 

Steering Issues

Issues with steering, suspension, transmission, and other engine-related problems can also lead to accidents. For instance, if the transmission goes out, the engine suddenly loses power, then the vehicle will not move. 

How to Prove a Mechanic is Liable for a Car Accident

Mechanic liability is based on the legal theory of negligence. Therefore, holding a negligent mechanic responsible for a car accident requires proving the following elements: 

  • Duty of Care: The defendant (at-fault party) owed the plaintiff (victim) a duty of care. Mechanics owe customers a duty of care to use reasonable care when performing auto repairs. Therefore, proving a duty of care will require a bill or receipt, for example, that shows you went to the mechanic for repairs. 
  • Breach of Duty: The defendant breached their duty of care by failing to act how another reasonable mechanic would in a similar situation—for example if the mechanic failed to diagnose and fix an issue with the engine that another mechanic with the same training and background could have reasonably been expected to have diagnosed. 
  • Causation: The defendant’s actions directly led to the plaintiff’s harm. In other words, you would not have been injured but for the defendant’s behavior. For example, had the mechanic properly diagnosed and fixed the issue with your engine, you would not have been injured in a car accident. 
  • Damages: The plaintiff suffered damages due to the defendant’s negligence. You must have suffered losses for which you require reimbursement for you to have a claim. For instance, medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, etc.

Proving that a mechanic is responsible for a car accident can be complex. Speak to an experienced San Diego car accident lawyer in a free consultation to determine whether you have a case.