If Your Mechanic Fails to Fix Your Car Properly, You Could Be Owed Money
Cars break down all the time for any number of reasons, and car repairs can be an expensive part of car ownership. But if your mechanic doesn’t perform their job to the best of their ability, he or she might have to pay for any mistakes – a potentially costly proposition.
When you take your car to a mechanic for repair, you are doing more than just getting your automobile fixed: you are entering into what is known as a bailment relationship with your mechanic; if the mechanic violates the terms of the agreement, he or she could be liable for your damages. In a bailment relationship, the mechanic agrees to keep your car for a specific amount of time, for a limited purpose, and treat your car with reasonable care while it is in the mechanic’s possession.
Consumer Protection Laws for Car Repairs
Most states, including Colorado, have consumer protection laws in place that relate to car repairs. These laws make an automobile mechanic liable for:
- Providing false or incomplete estimates.
- Failing to outline exactly what work was performed.
- Breach of warranty.
- Failing to satisfactorily perform the requested work.
- Selling defective or dangerous parts.
- Committing fraud.
- Performing unauthorized or unnecessary repairs.
- Damaging the car while it is in mechanic possession.
If a mechanic is negligent while performing repairs to an automobile, he or she could be held liable for damages, and could also face criminal charges for deceptive or unfair practices. Your mechanic must take reasonable precautions to protect it while in possession of your car, but if the mechanic can prove the level of service offered was reasonable, he or she may not be responsible for your loss. In addition, if the mechanic was unable to fully repair the vehicle because of time or money constraints dictated by the customer, there may be no case for fiscal responsibility.
Garage Keepers Liability Coverage
Anyone who operates a mechanic shop, lube shop, auto body shop, paintless dent repair, car wash, or any other business that services vehicles in Colorado is required to obtain garage keepers liability insurance coverage and keep it in force. Garage keepers liability insurance provides coverage to the customer’s vehicle if it is damaged while in the control and care of the auto shop. Some examples of incidents when this damage could occur include:
- A customer’s vehicle is involved in a car accident while the mechanic has it on a test drive.
- The keys were left in the customer’s unlocked car and it was stolen from the garage.
- The garage is broken into and a customer’s vehicle was vandalized.
- Severe weather causes damage to a customer’s vehicle.
Garage keepers liability insurance typically does not provide coverage for the personal property stored in your car, but the repair shop could still be responsible if the mechanic knew of the item’s presence in your vehicle and it is included in the bailment relationship. Many written auto repair estimates include a provision that attempts to limit the mechanic’s liability for lost or stolen property, but a shop cannot use a disclaimer to avoid liability for its own negligence, accidental or intentional.