Jeep Owner Being Sued For $15 Million After Oil Change Accident Causes Mechanic’s Death

2022 Jeep® Cherokee Trailhawk

When you drop off your car at a dealership for an oil change, you expect to leave with your car with a fresh oil change. Unfortunately for one Michigan man, he is being sued for $15 million after his car was involved in an accident that resulted in the death of a mechanic.

As reported by Fox 2, the customer brought his Jeep into the Rochester Hills Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership for a regular oil change. Unfortunately, a 19-year-old mechanic, did not know how to operate a manual stick-shift, and did not possess an active driver’s license, decided to remove his foot from the clutch, causing the vehicle to jump and kill 42-year-old mechanic Jeffrey Hawkins.

The baffling part of this story is that the family cannot sue the dealership because the accident occurred in the workplace between two employees. “We can’t because of a legal standard that is involved,” says attorney David Femminineo.

Instead, the person being sued for this accident is the car’s owner, who had nothing to do with it.

According to Michigan law, an injured employee cannot sue their superiors due to their negligence. In this case, the boss would be negligent in hiring someone without a license who did not know how to operate a stick. Regardless of this, the family cannot hold him responsible.

The other option is for the victim’s family to seek worker’s compensation, which they have been granted. This would allow Hawkins’ family to receive income and medical benefits based on his dependants and his income at the time of his death.

But because his death involved a customer’s car, the owner’s liability statute means that the vehicle’s owner is legally at fault.

If the owner gave permission to the 19-year-old driver to operate his car, that means the owner is negligent. Legally, this makes him liable to be sued for driver’s negligence.

Of course, the customer’s lawyer intends on protecting his client from having any sort of responsibility in this accident. “When you hand your car over to anybody including the valet or the person at the service desk at your local dealership, you better be able to trust that person.”

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