Legal Question in Consumer Law in New Jersey

Auto Liability

My car was hit Feb. 2004 while parked in a parking lot. I had the car towed to the dealer where I purchased the car, they had the car for about 1 month. When I got home I checked it out and noticed work was not complete and the replacement bumper was the wrong style. I have been in contact with various people associated with the dealership and they agree that the wrong bumper was used but they haven't done anything in regards to correcting the problem. This past Jan. 2005 I slid on a patch of ice and hit a concrete medium on the PA Turnpike. The mechanic that did the repairs told me that the alignment was way out of whack and was most likely a contributing factor in the accident, when I informed him about the previous accident involving my car he asked if the alignment was checked and I told him no, he implied that it should have been. I had to replace a tierod on the side that was originally hit. Is the dealership where I had the work done liable for the recent accident I was involved and should I contact the insurance company and let them know that they paid for work that was not completed. Fortunately no one was injured but I most likely am facing an increase in my insurance and I have to contest a citation I received.

Asked on 2/22/05, 10:11 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

John Corbett Corbett Law Firm LLC

Auto Liability

Your case has both legal problems and problems of proof. There is not enough information in the question to assess all of the issues, but here are some thoughts.

To win a suit against the dealership that did the repairs, you will have to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the dealership knew or should have known about the alignment problem and negligently failed to repair it. Embedded in this is the necessity to prove that the alignment problem was not present prior to the first accident. After that, you will have to prove that the alignment problem was the proximate cause of the second accident. That is the kind of issue that usually requires expert testimony to prove. You will have to overcome a claim by the dealership that you should have noticed the misalignment in the ten months between the repairs and the second accident. They will also contend that the ice and your driving caused the accident, not any mechanical fault.

Your case is marginal at best. Unless you have a friend who is an expert on accident reconstruction and willing to work for free, it doesn't seem as if the damages are worth the cost and risk.

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Answered on 2/22/05, 10:57 pm

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