Collision Repair Laws & Regulations 2019
After a car accident in California, one of your main priorities is probably to repair damages to your motor vehicle. You might be using a rental car in the meantime to get to work while your car is in the shop, and want your car back as soon as possible. Despite your hurry, however, do not let an auto mechanic take advantage of you. Auto shops and technicians must abide by certain collision repair laws, rules, and regulations in the state of California. Otherwise, you could have a claim against the mechanic.
Right to Choose Your Mechanic
Under the California Insurance Code, an insurance company cannot force you to pick a specific shop for repairs after an auto accident. During the claims process, the insurance company may recommend repair shops, but not make it mandatory. Do your research and select a qualified mechanic you trust to formulate an accurate estimate of the damages. If you do choose a repair shop an insurance company recommends, the insurer will have the responsibility to pay for additional repairs if the mechanic does the first job poorly. If your insurance company does recommend a shop, it must let you know in writing that choosing the shop is optional.
Replacement Part Requirements
If an auto shop replaces anything on your vehicle with non-OEM (original equipment manufacture) or after-market parts, the shop must notify you and get your approval before completing the repair. The mechanic must identify the use of non-OEM parts on the customer’s invoice. As the owner of the vehicle, carefully check your invoice to find out if the shop will be using new, used, refurbished, or aftermarket parts. It will then be up to you to approve or deny the repairs based on parts used.
The Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations requires all insurance companies to make sure that any aftermarket or non-OEM replacement parts are equal to or better than the quality of the OEM parts. Aftermarket parts must have at least the same performance, quality, and safety level as OEM parts during replacement. If the insurance company cannot make this guarantee, it must pay for replacement parts of the correct quality and performance. The owner of the vehicle cannot demand OEM parts if the insurance company can ensure that aftermarket parts are of the same kind and quality.
Invoices, Estimates, and Payments
By law, all auto shops in California have to provide written estimates before performing any repairs on the damaged vehicle. The owner of the vehicle must approve of the repairs based on the price estimate before the shop can start work. If the owner does not approve of the repairs, the auto shop will not have the right to demand payment for repairs provided. The invoice must have an itemized list of parts and methods used for the repair. The total amount must be reasonably close to the actual amount of the job. If the completed job will be significantly more money, the shop must call and get the owner’s approval first.
If you refuse to pay for vehicle repairs you approved, the auto shop will have the right to place a mechanic’s lien against your vehicle. This means you cannot legally come pick up your vehicle; the auto shop will have the right to keep or sell your vehicle if you do not pay your debts. If you are unhappy with the quality of work, express your concerns to the shop manager. Resolving the issue with the repair shop is often the best and fastest way to resolve a work quality issue. Remain calm and courteous during negotiations. If this does not work, hire a Local car accident attorney to help you file a complaint.