What Happens If A Mechanic Breaks Your Car?

Updated 3 days ago
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If a mechanic breaks you car, as long as you didn't release liability, the shop has to pay for repairs. However, if you released liability, you or your insurance are responsible for covering all costs. Bottom line: pay attention to what you sign and read it thoroughly.

When can I hold a mechanic liable?

You have most likely taken your car in for repairs at some point during ownership. This seems like a simple task, but choosing the right shop is key. If something happens to your car while in their possession, are you liable or is the shop? Here are some reasons the repair shop could be liable:

  • If the mechanic damages your vehicle they are at-fault. Their job was to safely repair your car back into working condition and take every precaution to take care of your vehicle properly while in their possession. Damaging your car is the opposite of that, especially if they're personally responsible.
  • You can hold a mechanic liable for a false or misleading estimate. If they lie about the estimate to get your car in the shop and then suddenly jack the price up, you can sue them.
  • If a mechanic refuses to tell you what work they performed on your car they're then liable. If it's later found out that they didn't perform the work in the estimate, they can be sued.
  • If a mechanic breaches their warranty they're liable. Failure to make repairs under warranty is considered a breach. This opens up a lawsuit for false claims.

Read the fine print—it could save you big money!

Sometimes the shop makes you sign a service agreement before they work on your car. Read the fine print carefully. Shops sometimes sneak in a couple sentences to limit their liability. Before you sign anything make sure you have read and agree to all the terms.

Hold harmless agreements

A hold harmless agreement is something that can be slipped into fine print in service agreements. It says that the shop isn't responsible for any damages that happen on the shop's grounds. In some cases the agreement may just be a sign on the wall or window saying, "We are not liable for theft or loss of property while vehicles are parked here."

What to know before suing the auto repair shop

If something does happen to your car at a shop and you decide to sue you need to have certain things in place. Like all insurance companies, the shops insurance is going to do everything they can to win the case or have it thrown out. Here is what you need to have in place before you sue.

  • Proof you never released liability. Usually a copy of the service agreement should do.
  • A quote for how much the repairs will cost.
  • Any proof you may have that the damage occurred at their shop.

Will my insurance cover any of the repairs?

Unless you have released liability their insurance should cover most costs of repairs. If they don't have insurance, your insurance covers the costs of repair and then use subrogation to make the shop pay them back. Ultimately it comes down to what you have signed and what you haven't.

Should I use the mechanic my insurance recommends?

Unfortunately, damage can happen to your vehicle while in the care of an auto repair shop. While not common, you should still take necessary precautions, including taking your car to an auto shop your insurance recommends. They have an established working relationship and have garnered the trust of your insurance company to take care of your vehicle while in their possession.

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