Judgement Call: Industry-oriented lawyer on the risks of bowing to insurer pressure

Toronto, Ontario — Sept. 5, 2019 — With recent findings of insurer pressure towards repairers to conduct cheaper repairs, a question begins to arise: where does liability fall when autobody shops make repairs that are against manufacturer recommendations?


Justin Jakubiak is a Fogler, Rubinoff lawyer specializing in civil litigation and automotive law, with a long history of working on collision industry cases.


One of the few lawyers in Ontario with a specialized focus on dealership law, he is a go-to resource for questions about Ontario traffic and vehicle legislations. Jakubiak’s experience allows him to assist dealerships, salespersons and mechanics in obtaining, maintaining and defending their licenses according to the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council and the Ministry of Transportation.


Collision Repair got in touch with Jakubiak to ask him the following: When insurers demand an autobody shop make repairs that do not follow OEM guidelines, who receives liability?


Collision Repair Magazine: So just where does liability fall when an accident occurs because of a non-OEM part?


Justin Jakubiak: It’s not black and white. At the end of the day if there were to be an accident and a contributing factor to that accident was a part that was fixed subpar, then the reality is liability would be spread across everyone. 


If the repairer is looking at something and says ‘this needs to be an OEM repair and nothing less otherwise safety is highly compromised’ it’s probably best in that situation to not go through with the repair.


I think repairers should expect to sometimes lean back and explain to insurers why it’s extremely important that an OEM part is used instead of a replacement.


CRM: What about those businesses that feel like their big payer is still the auto insurance industry, and upsetting them may not be worth the cost – what are the sort of legal ramifications for adopting that position?


JJ: It’s an understandable position. Often repairers will want to keep insurance companies happy so they continue to work frivolously to keep that working relationship, but down the road, if their initial feeling is correct–that there is a safety concern, they need to act on that feeling lest there be a lawsuit.

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