North Carolina Court Upholds Award of Treble Damages in Car Accident Case When Auto Body Shop Engaged in Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices

Some car crashes are relatively straightforward. Others are complicated and give rise to complex legal issues that require the experience and knowledge of a seasoned North Carolina car accident attorney. Whether you are simply wanting more information about your legal rights or you are prepared to take action, we are standing by and ready to assist you.A recent North Carolina court opinion highlights one example of how car accidents can raise complex legal issues. The plaintiff was injured in a crash in 2008 while driving a Land Rover. The plaintiff’s vehicle was hit by another vehicle when the plaintiff was turning at an intersection. The plaintiff contacted the car maker after the crash to find out how he should have his vehicle repaired. When he took his vehicle in for repairs, he stated that he was concerned there was serious damage that could not be seen externally. One month later, the plaintiff picked up his vehicle, but no repairs had been made by the auto body shop that the plaintiff contacted. Instead, the defendant’s auto body shop had performed all of the repairs.

On the way home, the plaintiff noticed several issues with his vehicle, and when he arrived home, he found significant problems that had not been repaired. He contacted the auto body shop and returned the vehicle for further repairs. The plaintiff contacted the at-fault driver’s insurer and requested that they pay for the repairs. The plaintiff rejected the insurer’s initial offer on the basis that it was insufficient.

The plaintiff took his vehicle to another auto body repair shop to obtain an estimate on the diminished value of his vehicle. The shop determined that the vehicle was not safe to drive, and the insurer deemed it a total loss. The insurer told the plaintiff that it would need to conduct a third-party inspection before it could declare the car a total loss. The plaintiff called off the inspection before it could be performed.

The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the insurer, the at-fault driver, and the first auto body shop, seeking compensation for repairs to the vehicle and other damages. In the complaint, the plaintiff asserted claims for negligence, fraud, bad faith refusal to settle, unfair trade practices, tortious breach of contract, and more. The insurer was dismissed, and the claims proceeded against the remaining defendants separately. The jury concluded that the auto body shop was liable to the plaintiff for $200,000. The trial court reduced the verdict to roughly $100,000 but tripled the amount upon finding that the defendant engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices. The defendant appealed, and the reviewing court upheld the verdict and the lower court’s award of damages.

If you were injured in a car accident, you likely are facing a multitude of damages and expenses. At Maurer Law, we proudly provide committed and responsive legal counsel to individuals and families throughout North Carolina. We offer a free consultation to discuss your situation and how we might be able to help you seek the justice that you deserve. Call us at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online.

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