Who controls how your vehicle is repaired after an accident? You might think that you do, or that your body or mechanic shop does, but that may be an incorrect assumption.
A Texas jury recently sided with the plaintiffs—who had been injured in a car accident—when they said that their body shop performed substandard repairs on their 2010 Honda Fit. The shoddy repairs allegedly made the effects of the accident worse, but it’s not only the shop that may have to pay.
The plaintiffs’ counsel has also filed a related lawsuit against the couple’s auto insurer, which they say bullied the body shop into using the low-cost approach.
Couple Suffers Severe Injuries in Texas Car Crash
The couple had owned their Honda Fit for only four months when the accident occurred. They were on their way to spend the Christmas holiday with the wife’s grandmother when a Toyota Tundra hit their Honda head-on. The Honda caught fire, but the couple may have escaped had not the roof collapsed. As it was, the roof caved in and trapped the occupants inside.
Both suffered from crushing injuries, including arm, chest, and rib injuries and some internal organ damage. The husband, who was driving, also suffered from third-degree burns on his legs and feet. They were able to get out only when rescuers pulled them out.
After an investigation, the couple learned that the Honda had undergone roof repair before they bought it, and that during that repair, the metal roof had been glued rather than welded back onto the vehicle frame—a method that cost about $3,000 less. In October 2017, a Texas jury awarded the couple $42 million in their lawsuit against the body shop and the driver of the Toyota Tundra. The body shop was held 75 percent liable.
But the plaintiffs aren’t finished. They’ve also filed a lawsuit against State Farm Insurance, claiming that the company pressured the body shop into using the cheaper repair option.
Plaintiffs Claim Insurance Company Pressured Body Shop
In their second lawsuit, the Texas plaintiffs claim that State Farm directed the body shop to use an untested 3M panel bonding adhesive on their new Honda roof, rather than the Honda-specified welding to replace the old roof, which had been damaged in a hailstorm. The case was filed in response to testimony from the body shop director.
One of the plaintiffs’ experts claimed that the substandard repair made their accident much worse than it needed to be, and that if the roof had been repaired correctly, the plaintiffs probably would have walked away with only minor injuries. Their legal counsel added that other insurance companies pressure repair shops to make cheap repairs where possible, and that it happens frequently across the country.
In this lawsuit, the plaintiffs seek one million in damages, and want to send a message to insurance companies to do what’s right. They bring counts of negligence, deceptive trade practices, and breach of warranties.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.