In the trucking world, mechanical problems happen regularly. Time down for repairs causes a great deal of lost income across the industry. Small trucking companies and owner operators often take the biggest hits.  However, when mechanical problems are actually the fault of mechanics, there may be ways to recover your lost income from them.

Accidental Physical Damage

Take, for example, our client Michael.  He took his trailer to a truck stop for a tire change. The young mechanic instructed Michael to back his rig into the shop. The mechanic kept waving Michael back until Michael’s trailer actually hit another truck parked inside. It was the mechanic’s fault and the truck stop paid for the repairs, but they wouldn’t agree to reimburse Michael for his week of missed loads.  Michael hired our firm to assist in collecting his lost income. We were successful and Michael was compensated for his losses.

Liability and Damages

If you and your attorney can prove your case to the faulty mechanic, you may be able to make a quick settlement and avoid court. Two things must always be proven once you get to court: liability (evidence of fault) and damages (evidence of financial losses).  If you can’t prove the other side was at fault, you probably won’t win, no matter how much money you’ve lost.  On the flip side, if you prove the other side was at fault but you can’t actually prove you lost any money, you’ll win an award of $0.  You need to prove both parts to be successful.

Another term used interchangeably with liability is ‘negligence’. A mechanic’s shop must be negligent in some way, failing to use reasonable care in their repair which resulted in additional damage to your equipment.  The mechanic failing to put the oil pan plug back in after an oil change is one example. A second example is a mechanic that didn’t tighten bolts properly; they came loose and caused more damage.

Independent Experts

Our office uses the service of independent experts to prove negligence.  These experts review photos of the damage and documents related to the case.  Using their heavy equipment experience, they write a detailed report for an affordable fee.   Favorable reports are often very persuasive and help resolve losses quickly.

Mechanic Installs Wrong Part

Recently, we successfully pursued a shop which installed the wrong size front differential.  Each subsequent repair was done to the wrong size differential causing enormous repair bills and downtime. Finally, a shop found the problem and the expert wrote a report clearly placing blame on the first mechanic’s shop.  Our office was able to successfully recover 100% of the losses – over $50,000.

Possible Exceptions

A few caveats exist. 1) There may be fine print on the mechanic’s estimate or invoice limiting your rights. See this article for more information:  2) It may not be negligent for a mechanic to take longer than expected to complete the repair, and 3) Finding that more repairs were necessary than were originally diagnosed may not constitute a valid claim.

Experts with Experience

Clearly, not all downtime related to mechanical problems will be negligence-related.  Equipment breaks down from heavy use, age, manufacturer defects and other factors.  However, where a mechanic makes a serious mistake, you should consider pursuing your rights. You will likely need the help of an expert and a law firm familiar with this type of cases. At Eckert & Associates, P.A., we have a list of experts to consult and the experience needed to pursue these cases.  Call us for a free consultation at 904-278-7688.