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Consumer advocate and attorney Erica Eversman says using used suspension parts could put collision techs in same boat as Vermont mechanic charged with manslaughter.
Consumer advocate and attorney Erica Eversman remembers the shocked and unhappy faces of collision technicians in an audience she was presenting to several years ago when she told them the cold, harsh reality of what would happen if someone died as the result of a faulty collision repair they performed.
“I said, guess who is going to go to jail for manslaughter? The technician who fixed the car. You are the individual,” says Eversman.
Eversman took notice of the recent article about a licensed mechanic who is facing 16 years in prison due to not thoroughly inspecting a vehicle involved in a fatal crash and couldn’t help but think of the example she once relayed to collision repairers involving used suspension parts.
“That is the perfect example of saying that if a shop and, more importantly, a technician puts that potentially unsafe piece of equipment in someone’s car and there is harm that results from it, you could very easily be looking at a manslaughter charge,” Eversman says. “You are the expert. You are compensated to properly and safely repair this person’s car, and if you fail in that duty, it is negligence.”
And the dangers of used suspension parts is not something collision repairers can profess ignorance of, says Eversman, due to the widespread knowledge in the industry of its safety risks.
“This is something the industry has railed against, so it is a well-known issue,” she says. “It is not the kind of thing where someone can say, this is a brand-new concept and I had no idea there could be microfractures.”
Eversman told of a real-world example outside of collision but nonetheless relevant. On a downhill street, a semi couldn’t brake and ended up tipping over onto a car, killing the occupant. In the wrongful death lawsuit against the company, it was found that not all of the truck’s brakes worked, and that the company had bribed a state inspector to pass it.
“Guess who went to jail? The driver,” Eversman says. “You look at that and go, he shouldn’t be the guy sitting in jail. Was he the one sitting behind the wheel at the time the vehicle tipped over? Yes. But who was responsible for the fact that the vehicle didn’t have correct brakes?”
In the Vermont mechanic’s case, a yearlong investigation by the Department of Motor Vehicles uncovered that he gave a botched inspection of a 22-year-old vehicle, resulting in the owner’s death after the car spun out of control.