Category Archives: Car Accidents

Rodriguez and Associates Obtains Record $70 Million Verdict on Behalf of a Family Injured in a Major Big Rig Accident

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Rodriguez & Associates obtained a $70,578,289 verdict on behalf of a family injured in a major crash with a big rig in Bakersfield, California that happened in August of 2017.

Tomasa Cuevas, mother of Alex and Maritiza, was driving her kids to shop for school clothes when a big rig ran a red light and slammed into their SUV at the intersection of Pamana Road and Union Avenue in Bakersfield.

Tomasa was knocked unconscious and experienced a moderate traumatic brain injury and numerous skull and face fractures.

Her son, Alex Cuevas, was a cross-country runner. Because of the car crash, doctors said Alex may never run again. He was the front passenger during the accident who suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, facial fractures, and skull fractures.

The rear passenger was 11-year-old Maritza Cuevas who witnessed the horrific injuries to her mom and brother.

The $70,578,289 verdict is the highest personal injury verdict in Kern County history.

Our Bakersfield personal injury law firm has more multi-million-dollar verdicts than any other law firm in the Southern San Joaquin Valley.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 7:34 pm

By the Numbers: Motor Vehicle Crashes in the State of California

Friday, November 15, 2019

As the most populous state in the nation, California attracts tourists and new residents alike who are eager to explore the many attractions the Golden State has to offer. While that’s great for the state’s economy, it takes a toll on the roads, which are densely populated and contribute to a high number of motor vehicle accidents each year.

While looking through recent statistics on California motor vehicle accidents can make it seem like crashes are unavoidable, these numbers can actually be quite useful, as they better inform drivers of when, where, and why these accidents happen. Equipped with basic safety knowledge as well as these statistics, both California residents and drivers can feel better prepared when they get behind the wheel.

Some key facts and statistics on California motor vehicle crashes include:

In 2017, California had the second-highest number of fatal crashes in the United States: 3,304. Only Texas ranked higher. Part of the reason for this is California’s population, which is considerably denser than, say Nebraska, which recorded only 210 fatal crashes in 2017.

Night-times and weekends are the most dangerous times for motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

According to the most recent numbers from the California Office of Traffic Safety, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities — where a driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher — increased from 911 in 2015 to 1,059 in 2016. Also in 2016, 1.5 percent of all drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes tested positive for legal and/or illegal drugs.

Bakersfield, California, in particular, has seen a rise in drunk-driving-related accident in recent years.

The California OTC also found that motorcycle fatalities increased 11 percent from 494 in 2015 to 548 in 2016. Deaths of motorcyclists not wearing a helmet increased 9 percent, from 23 in 2015 to 25 in 2016. California is one of 19 states that requires motorcyclists by law to wear a helmet.
According to the California DMV, 80 percent of collisions and 65 percent of near-collisions are the result of distracted driving. The main reasons for driving distracted, which involves taking your eyes or mind off the road, include eating, applying cosmetics, watching events outside the vehicle, reaching for an object inside the vehicle, and, of course, using electronic devices such as mobile phones. California outlawed the use of handheld electronic devices while driving in 2017, but crashes related to them nonetheless persist.

If you live in or are planning to visit California, these statistics can seem intimidating. Properly educating yourself is a huge step towards becoming comfortable on the state’s overcrowded and often chaotic roads. The California DMV’s “California Driver Handbook” is a wealth of information when it comes to understanding the laws and getting familiar with best practices for driving in the state. We encourage our community to read through those pages and become familiar with not only the laws and regulations on the road, but also what you can do once inside your vehicle to ensure a safer trip for you and your loved ones.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 7:13 pm

What Is the Difference Between Punitive Damages and Actual Damages?

Monday, November 11, 2019

In a personal injury lawsuit, you have the right to collect compensatory damages for losses you suffered in an accident that was not your fault. The aftermath of these accidents can leave us with unexpected medical expenses, lost wages while we are healing, property damage, emotional anguish, and more – and filing a lawsuit provides a pathway to recover from these significant damages. There are many types of damages you can claim, including actual damages and punitive damages.

What Are Actual Damages?

Actual damages refer to the financial, physical, and emotional losses you suffered as a result of the accident. They make up the bulk of the settlement that the court can award you at the conclusion of your case, and seek to help you restore your financial standing to what it was prior to the accident. To claim these damages, you will need to prove that the accident was the direct cause for them.

Actual damages come in two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to the tangible financial losses you suffered from in the course of the accident. You can prove these damages in court by supplying invoices, receipts, and bills. Common economic damages include the following.

  • Past and future medical expenses for doctor’s visits, surgeries, hospitalization, etc.
  • Lost wages during recovery time or loss of earning the ability
  • Disability accommodations to a home or vehicle
  • Property damage

On the other hand, you cannot supply receipts or invoices to prove non-economic damages. These actual damages include the intangible losses you suffer in the wake of an accident, commonly known as pain and suffering damages. Some examples of non-economic damages include the following.

  • Emotional distress
  • Chronic pain
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Loss of quality of life

Courts calculate the amount of the non-economic damages you can claim in different ways. In most situations, the jury will examine the facts of your case after your attorney proves that the at-fault party is the cause of your injuries. Based on your case, the jury will assign an amount based on a combination of evidence and reasonability.

In the state of California, there are no caps on economic or non-economic damages in personal injury lawsuits. However, there is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.

What Are Punitive Damages?

On the other hand, the court does not intend for punitive damages to restore your financial standing to what it was prior to the accident. Their purpose is to punish the at-fault party in your case for dangerous, reckless, negligent, or intentional behavior. At the conclusion of your case, the at-fault party will have to pay punitive damages on top of actual damages – they will not affect the outcome of your settlement.

The court will determine whether or not the at-fault party acted in a way that warrants punitive damages and makes a decision on the amount he or she will have to pay. The amount can vary based on the circumstances of your case, and the more severe cases typically result in a higher amount of punitive damages.

Do You Need an Attorney for Your Personal Injury Case?

Calculating these damages and knowing exactly how much you can claim in civil court can be difficult. You may forget about a certain line item that you could claim as an economic loss, or remain unsure of whether or not you qualify for non-economic damages. If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit, consider hiring a personal injury attorney to assist you with your case.

Your lawyer can help you determine which economic and non-economic damages you can claim, collect the evidence necessary to prove your economic losses, advise you on the amount of non-economic damages you might receive, and whether or not your case could qualify for punitive damages.

If you are grappling with the aftermath of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or reckless, you have legal options available to you. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to claim actual and punitive damages for your losses. If you have not done so already, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your case and to begin the filing process.

Posted by highrank at 6:05 pm

Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident Due to Changing Lanes?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Car accidents are common occurrences on California roads, with many different types of collisions occurring each day. You can establish clear liability in some accidents, while others may require additional investigation by an attorney. One type of accident that can be difficult to investigate are lane change accidents. Typically, the driver who did not obey the right of way is liable in these situations.

What Is a Changing Lanes Car Accident?

When you are driving, you often switch lanes to make your correct turn, to pass a slow car ahead of you, or to prepare for an upcoming exit. You must be vigilant to ensure that you can safely change lanes, especially if there are other drivers on the road.

However, not all drivers take these precautions when making a lane change, leading to a car accident. Changing lanes accidents occur when one driver collides into another while making a lane change. They can occur for a number of reasons, including low visibility, aggressive driving, and failure to check a blind spot. If you are in an accident with a driver who makes a lane change without performing his or her due diligence, he or she could be liable for any injuries or damages you suffer.

California Car Accident Liability Laws

Under California state law, the at-fault driver involved in a car accident is responsible for paying for the damages suffered in accidents he or she causes. You can establish liability in a car accident insurance claim or lawsuit by proving these four elements.

  • First, you will need to prove that the at-fault driver in your claim owed you a duty of care on the road. Drivers owe each other a duty to drive safely and follow traffic laws.
  • Next, you will need to prove that the at-fault driver breached his or her duty of care to you. Failure to obey the right of way or posted traffic signs and signals can constitute this breach.
  • Then, you will need to prove that the at-fault driver’s breach of care led to the injuries and losses you suffered in the accident.
  • Finally, you will need to prove that you can claim compensation for your damages through your lawsuit or insurance claim.

Determining liability in a changing lane accident case will involve many different pieces of evidence, from surveillance footage to witness testimony. Hiring an attorney to assist you with your claim can help you build a compelling case.

California’s Comparative Negligence Rule

Lane change accidents can be difficult to litigate because of the question of liability. While the other driver in your case could hold a share of the blame, the courts will likely investigate if you played a role in the accident as well. For example, if you were speeding and the other driver changed lanes ahead of you, you could hold a portion of liability.

California follows a comparative negligence rule in situations like these. According to this rule, the court will reduce your settlement amount by your share of fault if they find you to be partially liable for the accident.

For example, let’s say you are in an accident with a driver who changed lanes ahead of you. You claim compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage, and the court awards you a settlement of $100,000.

However, the accident occurred at night and the court discovers you did not have your headlights on at the time, which decreased your visibility to the other driver. The court finds that you are 40% responsible for the accident. As a result, you will only receive $60,000 out of your settlement.

Determining liability in a changing lanes accident can be very complicated. To protect your best interests and to gain access to investigatory resources, contact a car accident attorney to assist you with your case. Your attorney can advise you on your best course of action and the evidence you will need to prove your claim.

Posted by highrank at 6:07 pm

Do You Need to Replace a Car Seat After a Car Accident?

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Depending on the circumstances of your accident, a car collision can leave severe, sometimes irreparable damage to your vehicle. Not only is the exterior of your car at risk, but a car accident can damage your interior mechanisms and the belongings you have inside of your vehicle. If you have a car seat in your car at the time of your accident, it is a good idea to replace it – and your personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim could help you purchase a new one.

When Do You Need to Replace a Car Seat?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) puts out recommendations on what to do with car seats after a car accident. If you are in a moderate to severe crash with your child or with the car seat in your vehicle, the NHTSA recommends that you seek a replacement as soon as possible.

Getting into a car accident does not automatically mean that you have to replace your car seat, however. If you are in a minor car accident, you can continue to use the seat. Your accident will need to meet all of the following criteria for the NHTSA to consider it a minor collision.

  • You were able to drive your vehicle away from the accident site.
  • None of the people in the car at the time of the accident suffered any injuries.
  • Your vehicle’s air bags did not deploy during the course of the accident.
  • The car seat did not suffer from any visible damage.
  • The door closest to the car seat did not suffer from any damage.

Remember, your car accident will need to meet all of the above criteria to be a minor accident and you do not have to replace the car seat. If you do need to replace your car seat, options are available to you.

You should also check with the manufacturer of the car seat to ensure that it is still in good condition. Different manufacturers may have different requirements, so it is important to conduct some independent research after your accident.

Can You Receive Compensation to Replace a Damaged Car Seat?

If you were in a moderate to severe car accident and your car seat meets the manufacturer’s requirements for a replacement, you will need to purchase a new one. Car seats can be expensive, and paying for one unexpectedly out of pocket can be difficult – especially if you are also paying for medical bills, property damage, and other losses associated with the accident.

You do have to option of recovering compensation to purchase a new car seat. You can choose to pursue a claim through your car insurance company or you can file a lawsuit in California civil court. If you start with an insurance claim, you can pursue a lawsuit at a later time.

The insurance company should cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage in an accident – and car seats count as property. Depending on the company, you may have to purchase the replacement car seat first and submit a receipt for reimbursement later. Other companies may give you a settlement to purchase a new car seat.

Because these companies have to pay for your expenses, they may be difficult to deal with and take a long time to offer you a settlement. Even with a settlement, you may not receive enough money to cover all of your losses. Contact an attorney to help you with your claim and to negotiate for a fair settlement on your behalf.

Car accidents, no matter how severe, can lead to damage to you, your passengers, and your property. If someone else’s negligence or recklessness led to your accident, you may be eligible to collect compensation for your losses through a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim. Contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible after your crash to learn more about your legal options.

Posted by highrank at 11:45 pm

Do You Need to Report a Car Accident in California?

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Car accidents are very common occurrences on California roads, from serious multi-car collisions to minor bumps and scratches. If you are in an accident where no one suffers serious injuries or damage, you may wonder if you need to report the car accident to law enforcement or the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, California state law does require you to file a report whenever a car accident happens.

Reporting the Crash to Law Enforcement

It is the law in California to report a car accident after it occurs. All drivers of any vehicles involved in the accident will need to make a written report to the California Highway Patrol or to the local police department within 24 hours of the crash – but only if the crash led to someone’s injuries or death.

That is a very quick turnaround, so it is important to call law enforcement as soon as possible after the crash. Any police officer who responds to your accident will make a written report on your behalf so that you do not have to. If a car accident does not involve a person’s injury or death, you do not have to make a report.

However, the moments after a car accident can be disorienting. You may not feel as if you have any injuries, and you may decline to report the car accident to law enforcement. However, injuries after an accident may become apparent hours or days after the initial crash. It is important to report the crash to law enforcement immediately after it occurs.

Reporting the Crash to the Department of Motor Vehicles

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may also need to report the crash to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. You have 10 days to report your car accident to the DMV if you meet any of the following criteria.

  • If anyone involved in your accident suffered injuries, including minor injuries
  • If someone died as a result of the car accident
  • The accident led to property damage that totals more than $750

You will need to submit a SR-1 form to the DMV to satisfy this reporting requirement. This form will ask you about the people involved in the car accident, any injuries or deaths that occurred, details about the property damage, and insurance information.

What to Do After a Car Accident in California

Meeting these reporting requirements is not only important to comply with state law – if you suffered any physical, emotional, or property damage, you could use these reports as evidence in an insurance claim or lawsuit. Through these processes, you can recover compensation to help you pay for any out-of-pocket losses that occurred as a result of the accident. However, it is important to take action as soon as possible after the accident.

  • Call 911 to bring emergency medical services and law enforcement officers to the accident scene. The officer will file the written report on your behalf, so that you do not have to worry about it later.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible to treat your injuries. Your medical report will be a key piece of evidence in your future claim.
  • Document evidence at the scene. Take pictures of any damage that your vehicles suffered, as well as your own injuries and the general area around the scene. Ask the witnesses in the area if you can have their contact information.
  • Contact an accident attorney. You can discuss the facts of your case with this attorney and begin the lawsuit process.

If you are in a car accident in California, it is important to remain calm and to report the incident to law enforcement as soon as possible. Not only does the state require you to do so, but a police report can greatly assist you in filing your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. After you file and seek medical attention, contact a car accident attorney to assist you with your case.

Posted by highrank at 11:39 pm

Can You Sue a Tow Truck Company for Damaging Your Car?

Monday, June 3, 2019

Getting your car towed comes with its own level of stress and hassle depending on the circumstances. Regardless of the situation, towing could cost money in addition to the parking fine or cause to your vehicle damage as a result of moving your car. To make matters worse, sometimes your car gets damaged in the towing process, causing additional distress and costing more money to repair the damage. Suing a tow company is not always an option, but it is always best to verify if you can receive compensation for the damages your car sustained.

California Tow Law

California tow law dictates that a car owner can sue a tow company only if the company doesn’t follow the law. In this case, a car owner can sue the tow company for up to four times the cost of the towing service, along with storage and the fees required to hire a personal injury attorney in some cases.

Burden of Proof

If a towing company practices improper towing practices, they are liable for the damage done to your car. This is the most direct route in pursuing a personal injury claim. If the damage was not directly related to the company’s towing practices, a case becomes more complicated, and harder to prove.

Tow-related damage is the most effective type of proof you can possess. Although it might be hard to prove exactly what went wrong, documenting your vehicle before it gets towed is one way to prove that damage occurred during the tow-process. However, this option isn’t available for someone who isn’t present when the towing company towed their car. In this case, the claimant must present evidence of damage specific to the towing process. The most common types of tow-related damage that occur in improper towing practices are:

  • Bumper damage
  • Tire damage
  • Windshield damage

Damage done to either of these car parts via dents, scratches, or cracks, could imply negligent towing practices.

Can I File a Claim?

Any car owner can file a claim against a towing company, but it is in their best interest to consult with an attorney before pressing charges. Many firms provide free consultation and can let you know if your case has any grounds for success against the tow company. If you do have a valid case, an attorney will help you gather evidence and file your claim.

A claim filed for car damage during a towing procedure falls into your local small claims court circuit. When filing, it is important to emphasize that the tow company’s negligence is the cause of your car’s damage. Your attorney can help you prove the following things within your case’s investigation:

  • The tow truck driver and company owed a duty to you, which was to tow your truck in a manner that prevents accidents from happening. California implies this under the state’s tow law.
  • The tow truck driver or company breached this duty. Outside of the potential for tower negligence in hitching and driving your car, faulty components of the tow truck could have also contributed to the damage. This would still fall onto the tow company but remove the driver from the equation.
  • You can trace your car’s damage to the negligence of the towing company.

You can also file a claim with your insurance company. You will still need to provide proof in this scenario, but court involvement is typically not necessary. Your insurance company’s claims adjusters help in the process of settling with third-party entities in accidents like this.

Sovereign Immunity

One key detail that will impact your claim is whether the government owns the tow company. All government-owned vehicles, including those involved in public transit, enjoy protection under sovereign immunity. This means that they have protection from citizens filing lawsuits against them. While this protection doesn’t extend to privately owned tow trucks, it is always best to check.

Suing a tow truck for damaging your car can be difficult if you cannot prove that their towing process directly caused the damage. However, you should consult with an attorney to determine this rather than making the call yourself.

Posted by highrank at 4:06 pm

California Comparative Fault Laws

Friday, May 24, 2019

Rodriguez Law Car Accident Attorneys

Most states abide by either comparative fault or contributory negligence laws when it comes to recovery for car accidents. Comparative fault is the norm, with only a handful of states still using contributory negligence laws. California uses a pure comparative fault rule. After an auto accident, the courts may assign a portion of fault to both parties. Even if a plaintiff has some fault, he or she may still recover at least partial compensation under state law.

Comparative Fault vs. Contributory Negligence

States with comparative fault laws allow an at-fault plaintiff to recover partial damages, while those with contributory negligence laws bar a plaintiff from recovery entirely for even 1% fault. Most states have done away with outdated contributory negligence laws for being unfair to accident victims.

Some states use a combination of both types of negligence laws. In Michigan, for example, the courts will only reduce economic damages if a plaintiff is 51% or more at fault, but will bar recovery for noneconomic damages altogether. California is a comparative fault state. After a car accident, both parties may share fault for the crash, and a plaintiff may still recover compensation even with a percentage of fault.

California’s Pure Comparative Fault Rule

States with comparative fault laws follow either pure or modified rules. In pure comparative fault states, like California, a plaintiff can have any degree of fault and still be eligible for some compensation. Even if the courts find the plaintiff 99% at fault for the car accident, said plaintiff could still recover 1% of a compensation award in a pure comparative fault state. In a modified comparative fault state, however, the courts will limit a plaintiff’s ability to recover past a certain percentage of fault.

Modified comparative negligence states often cap a plaintiff’s allowable fault at 49%, 50%, or 51%. If the courts find the plaintiff more than the allowed amount at fault for a car accident, the plaintiff will lose any right to compensation. In all comparative negligence states, the courts will assign compensation according to the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. If a plaintiff were 25% responsible, for example, the plaintiff would recover $75,000 of a $100,000 award ($100,000-[$100,000 x 0.25 = $25,000] = $75,000).

Obtaining the greatest possible compensation award in a pure comparative fault state takes hiring a car accident attorney. Your attorney will work to minimize your percentage of fault to ensure the greatest possible financial recovery. Keeping your degree of fault as close to 0% as possible will lead to the ability to take home more of a settlement or jury verdict award. The courts will only order a defendant to pay for an amount equal to his or her percentage of fault. Fighting to increase the defendant’s degree of fault will result in higher compensation for the plaintiff.

Filing a Claim Against the At-Fault Party

California is also a fault-based insurance state. During the car insurance claim process, involved drivers will seek reimbursement from the at-fault party’s car insurer. In no-fault states, on the other hand, all parties will call their own insurance companies, regardless of fault. To start the insurance claim process after a crash in California, you must identify the at-fault driver. Then, you will call that party’s insurance company to file a claim.

Be careful what you say to another person’s insurance provider. The insurance claims adjuster’s job will be to get you to settle your case for as little as possible. Be truthful with the adjuster, but do not offer more information than is necessary. If you do not feel comfortable negotiating with an adjuster on your own, contact an attorney to handle settlement communications for you. A lawyer will protect your rights and best interests during the car accident claim process.

Posted by highrank at 11:31 pm

What Happens if You Hit a Car that is Illegally Parked?

Friday, May 10, 2019

Many car accident cases are not black and white. It is not always easy to identify who was at fault or what caused the accident. In some cases, both drivers could share fault for the auto collision. In others, one party may be solely at fault. If you strike a vehicle that someone illegally parked in California, you could both share fault – you for hitting the car and the other driver for parking illegally. This does not, however, mean you automatically forfeit the right to file a claim or seek compensation.

Driver Duties of Care

All drivers have the duty to act in a way that upholds general duties of care to other drivers. It is negligent to fail to exercise a reasonable degree of care. Texting and driving, speeding, drunk driving, and parking illegally are examples of driver negligence. Breaking any roadway rule is also negligence. If a person parks illegally, it means the driver failed to follow regulations and traffic laws. Thus, the parker negligently put his or her vehicle in danger. The driver will therefore at least share some of the fault if someone else strikes the illegally parked vehicle.

The other driver, however, also has certain duties – including a duty to drive diligently to avoid collisions. The driver must pay attention to the road, drive at a reasonable speed, and prepare to stop unexpectedly. Hitting a parked car, even if someone illegally parked it, is negligence if a reasonable and prudent driver would have avoided the collision. Thus, if someone hits a car that is illegally parked, both parties could share fault for the damages.

Comparative Fault Laws in California

California is a pure comparative fault state. Both parties may share fault for an auto accident, and the plaintiff could still recover compensation. Under the state’s pure comparative fault laws, if the courts find the plaintiff partially at fault for an accident – such as for striking the parked car – they will reduce the plaintiff’s recovery award by his or her percentage of fault. For example, if the courts assign 90% of fault to the defendant for illegally parking, but 10% to the plaintiff for negligently striking the parked car, the plaintiff would receive $90,000 of a $100,000 award.

In a modified comparative negligence state, the courts will cap the plaintiff’s ability to earn at a certain percentage of fault (usually between 49% and 51%). In California and other pure comparative fault states, however, no fault cap exists. A plaintiff could be 99% at fault for an accident and still recover 1% compensation. Navigating the state’s pure comparative fault laws may take help from an attorney. A car accident lawyer can work to minimize your degree of fault to maximize your compensation award.

Optimizing your financial recovery after hitting an illegally parked car takes proving that the defendant was more at fault than you were for the collision. An attorney can revisit the scene of the collision, take photographs, and help gather evidence of the other driver’s fault. Then, the attorney can present the case before a judge or jury on your behalf. A convincing argument from an attorney could be what you need to minimize your own fault and obtain greater compensation from the other driver.

Recovering After Striking an Illegally Parked Car

If you hit an illegally parked car in California, remain on the scene and do your best to notify the owner of the vehicle. If you cannot wait on the scene for the owner to return, the law requires you to leave a note in an obvious place on the vehicle with your full name and contact information. You and the other driver will exchange insurance information.

Then, you will call the other driver’s insurance company and he/she will call yours. The insurance companies will conduct their own investigations and may offer settlements according to the stipulations of each policy. If settlement negotiations do not work, hire an attorney to help you take your claim to court.

Posted by highrank at 11:22 pm

California Collision Repair Laws and Regulations

Friday, May 3, 2019

After an auto collision, one of the main goals for victims is to repair the damage to their vehicles. In California, collision repair laws and regulations determine how and when a vehicle owner can get auto repairs. As a California car accident victim, you must comply with regulations through your insurance company and state laws to receive repairs as well as reimbursement for the costs. Here is a breakdown of some of the most important related laws.

Mandatory Repair Estimates

Most states require auto mechanics to provide consumers with a price estimate before beginning any work. Some repair shops charge a fee to provide an estimate, but if so, they must notify customers about these fees. Receiving an estimate beforehand can allow the consumer the choice to go to a different shop for a better price. Many states also require that the final cost of the repairs do not exceed a certain percentage over the original estimate. This helps to prevent any major cost surprises.

Unauthorized Repairs

As a consumer, you have the legal right to approve or deny proposed mechanic services on your vehicle. If the auto shop calls and sends you an estimate and you tell them not to proceed with the repairs, the shop must comply with your wishes. Should the shop proceed to make the repairs and then demand payment, you do not have to pay for the unauthorized repairs – as long as the repairs rendered were not vital to another repair you ordered. If the mechanic refuses to release your vehicle, you may be able to file a lawsuit against him or her.

Mechanic’s Lien

If a vehicle owner refuses to pay for repairs already rendered, the auto shop has the legal right to keep the car. The shop owner could take out a mechanic’s lien against the owner of the car. A mechanic’s lien states that the shop owner will be the legal owner of the vehicle if the original owner fails to pay what he or she owes the owner. A lien is any legal claim against property that someone else has serviced or improved. A mechanic will have the right to keep and sell a vehicle with a lien, even if the car is a $35,000 luxury vehicle and the owner only owes $50 in repairs.

Consumer Protections From Unfair Practices

All consumers, including vehicle owners, have the right to fair business dealings in the U.S. It is against the law for an auto shop to engage in unfair or deceptive acts and practices. This includes deceptive automobile sales and the intentional selling of lemons (defective vehicles). Repair shops legally have to disclose certain information to customers, including details of a price estimate and whether replacement parts were new or used. Some federal laws also require same-day repairs on simple jobs, as well as cost-free corrections if the mechanic performs low-quality work.

California-Specific Laws

California’s automotive repair laws require a written price estimate for any repair work, a detailed invoice including a breakdown of all work done and parts used, and a return of replaced parts, if the consumer requests it at the time of placing the order. If the actual repairs will cost more than the estimate, someone from the shop must contact you, describe the situation, and get your permission before proceeding.

If you are unhappy with the quality of work, you have the right to demand better repairs by speaking directly to the repair shop. Remain calm and courteous, and explain your problem in detail. If you are willing to negotiate, do so on your own. Otherwise, if the shop cannot resolve the issue in accordance with your rights under the Automotive Repair Act, you may have the right to file an official complaint with the Bureau of Automotive repair. A lawyer can help you with your complaint and a subsequent lawsuit, if applicable.

Posted by highrank at 11:14 pm