Car accidents are extremely frustrating experiences, especially when your vehicle is severely damaged. When an accident injures someone, sometimes the last worry they need is getting their car fixed. However, it is important to take precautions to make sure your mechanic isn't performing fraudulent repairs on your car.
If a mechanic does not properly repair your car after an accident, it could be prone to sudden and catastrophic failure, putting you straight back into the position that you were initially trying to fix. Finding a mechanic that is trustworthy and reputable could mean the difference between suffering one accident or two. Even though an experienced mechanic may not always be cheaper than the competition, paying the proper amount for repairs once could prevent you from paying the improper amount twice.
Determining a Mechanic’s Reliability
One simple way to discover a reliable mechanic is to ask around. Talk with your friends, family members, co-workers, and other individuals in your community to learn about their experience with local shops. Social sites are also a useful tool to see what type of relationships a mechanic has with customers. However, keep in mind that online reviewers are not always accurate or honest opinions, and it is always better to do your research.
What Is A Mechanic Banned from Doing?
The law holds mechanics accountable just as it does to other types of businesses. Mechanics and repair shops are banned by law from billing you for services that you did not pay for and are held liable for any false information that they give you.
It is important that you understand that it is illegal for a mechanic to:
- Intentionally give a false/misleading estimate for the parts or repairs needed.
- Claim they did repairs, performed labor, or replaced parts when they didn’t.
- Claim that used or refurbished parts are new.
If you entrust your car accident repairs to a repair shop that you believe engaged in any of the above illegal activity, you need to take action to bring this deceptive party to justice.
Get Everything in Writing—Including the Estimate
When you go into a shop, even if you think it is trustworthy, you should always ask for a written estimate before they begin doing any work. Also, you should inform your mechanic that they must call you if they want to do any unplanned work. Having clear boundaries and requirements will help you avoid being surprised by a large bill. Finally, note that your final bill may be less or more than the initial estimate. A difference is normal as long as it is reasonable.
I Am Being Charged Too Much for Work I Did Not Request. Now What?
If you receive a bill that is higher than expected after the shop finishes repairs, do not hesitate to ask questions about the charges. Request that they write out the reason for any additional charges and make sure you keep that information. Though they can keep your vehicle if you refuse to pay, you should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection office in your area if you believe that the shop has blatantly overcharged you. Under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, you have the right to bring legal action against a fraudulent mechanic or shop. Even if you don’t agree with the bill, it may be in your best interests to pay it up front and then sue the shop for the return of the excessive amount with additional penalties.
Next, you should contact a mechanic to receive their opinion on the charges you received for repairs. Then, they should inspect your vehicle to determine if the receipt was accurate or if there are any remaining problems with your car. Make sure you also get this report in writing so that you can bring it back to the first shop. Most importantly, you want to make sure that your vehicle has had all the proper repairs and new parts it needs to drive safely; that's always your first priority.
If you are having trouble navigating your car accident claim, either due to your mechanic or your insurance company, call Arnold & Itkin for help today: (888) 493-1629. We've won billions for our clients, helping them rebuild their lives with as little stress as possible.