A collision center in Texas has been ordered to pay $31.5 million to a couple in Dallas who suffered serious injuries as a result of a crash exacerbated by negligent auto repairs.
Plaintiffs – husband and wife – suffered horrible injuries as a result of the fiery wreck. These include the husband’s fourth-degree burns, which continues to inflict constant agonizing pain. Although the crash was caused by a negligent driver in a sport utility vehicle, experts would later testify that plaintiffs should have walked away from that collision relatively unscathed. Instead, because of an improper auto repair following a hailstorm several months earlier, vehicle occupants are left with severe and permanent injuries.
The negligent auto repair lawsuit alleged the body shop bowed to pressure from plaintiff’s auto insurer to use the cheapest fix possible – despite knowing that it wasn’t safe. That meant instead of welding the new steal roof to the vehicle, as indicated in the manufacturer’s body repair manual, the piece was glued with an adhesive. So when the vehicle was struck, the roof buckled, the car’s safety cage collapsed and the fuel tank below the driver’s seat ruptured. Plaintiff husband was trapped under the steering wheel while flames engulfed the vehicle. Wife was pulled through the passenger window by another motorist, but it took significantly longer to extract the husband.
Had the auto repairs been done correctly, plaintiff expert witnesses opined, plaintiffs likely would have walked away with minor injuries.
The body shop’s director testified in his defense that procedures for repairs are guided by insurance. He testified auto insurers can dictate the OEM specifications by refusing to pay for anything more than the cheapest fix.
In general, it’s not in an auto insurer’s best interest to put an unsafe vehicle back on the road. That said, there are plenty of instances of auto insurers doing all they can to squeeze pennies. Auto repair companies aren’t absolved from conducting safe repairs or warning about the possible risks of the repairs that don’t meet vehicle manufacturer guidelines.
Auto mechanics and body repair shops can be held accountable in civil court when their repairs aren’t up to industry standards and/ or they breach a duty of care to consumers which ultimately results in a crash or exacerbation of injuries. Some examples might include:
- Installing the wrong part;
- Failure to repair or replace broken or worn parts;
- Missed or wrong diagnosis of vehicle malfunction or safety issue;
- Damaging the vehicle while attempting to repair it;
- Making an illegal repair;
- Failure to remove foreign objects/ debris/ other items during the repair.
This is not an isolated problem, considering the Federal Trade Commission’s report that auto repair fraud consistently ranks among the top consumer complaints received annually. The reality is when an auto repair shop performs unsatisfactory work, it not only cheats the consumer but also endangers the lives of everyone who drives that car and everyone who shares the road with it.
These claims are different from “negligent maintenance,” which holds the vehicle owner/ possessor liable for paying to keep their vehicle roadworthy and in safe working order.
Lawsuits alleging negligent auto repair are generally more complex than the average car accident case, and must be handled by a South Florida injury attorney who is experienced, knowledgeable and has a proven track record of success.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
John Eagle Collision Center Must Pay $31.5 Million in Damages to Dallas Couple for Negligent Repair, November 2017, By Josh Cable, BodyShopBusiness.com
More Blog Entries:
Florida No-Fault Auto Insurance Repeal Hits Legislative Road Block, March 7, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Blog