As an injury attorney handling car accidents every week, I hear clients’ concerns about how their cars are repaired.
While my focus is on getting them to the proper medical professionals and getting them fully recovered from the accident while still protecting their legal rights, the discussion about their car damage usually does come up.
Sometimes insurance companies have an approved list of select body shop providers that they prefer that you use to fix your car damage. It’s important at this point to realize that you have the freedom to choose where your car damage is repaired.
Whether a body shop on that list is good or bad is not for me to say. But I know that you have the freedom to choose where your car shall be repaired.
In other states, there have been allegations that some insurance companies actively select the body shops for the consumer. And they alleged in lawsuits that the insurance companies were pressuring their select body shop providers to use inferior parts to save money.
In some cases, the lawsuits allege that parts from salvage yards were used. In another allegation, there is a headlight that is clearly been repaired from a prior accident that was supposed to being used on a vehicle.
And while a mount or housing device may not be important as to how the car runs, things like bumpers do make a difference for the safety of the occupants. An aftermarket bumper may not have been tested to the same extent as the factory bumper.
The concerns are not just for the consumer who has had a damaged car in an accident. They continue onto the next owner of that car that may not even be knowledgeable that the car was in an accident.
In buying a used car it is usually best to buy from someone you know who has owned the car and you know the history behind it. But if you were buying from a stranger or dealer, it is usually worth the extra money and time to have a mechanic put the car up on a lift and take a really good look. Almost all serious repairs leave evidence that is not visible in a more cursory inspection. But from underneath, usually you can find evidence of a more serious accident that might affect the safety of the car.
The worst example of a shoddy repair that I have seen personally, still sticks out in my mind. A young Navy couple had an old Ford sedan. They were rear-ended and I handled their case. When the insurance company offered to do the repairs themselves at their own body shop, the couple saw no problem with that. The rear of the core was essentially replaced with the rear of another car and basically spot welded on. This was discovered because their children kept complaining of the backseat getting squishy with water when they drove in the rain. Yes, it was that bad. Ultimately the car was totaled and replaced.
Ultimately we have good body shops in our area that I trust. And I think that a careful consumer is a more protected consumer.