The owner of a jeep was involved in a legal nightmare after handing over the keys to his vehicle to a dealer in Michigan where a mechanic died while working on his car.
The family of Jeffrey Hawkins, 42, is suing the owner of the jeep, who has not been mentioned, for $ 15 million due to the death of the veteran mechanic.
Hawkins, a married father of four, was killed on March 13, 2020, when he changed Jeep oil at Rochester Hills Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership in Michigan.
A 19-year-old guy a mechanic, who did not know how to drive a gear lever and did not have a driver’s license, had started the car and removed his feet from the clutch, which caused the jeep to jump forward.
Hawkins, who was carrying out an oil change at the time, was run over and died immediately.
It is unclear why the 19-year-old mechanic was hired despite a lack of qualifications. A lawyer for the retailer declined to comment.
Under Michigan law, employees cannot sue their employers or other employees for accidents that occur in the workplace.
David Femminineo, a lawyer representing Hawkins’ family, acknowledged that the lawsuit “seems unfair” but claimed that the man who had taken his Jeep to the dealership was still legally responsible for the tragedy.
“If you go to lunch and give your car to someone and an accident happens, you would be responsible for it. The same thing happens here,” Femminineo told DailyMail.com on Thursday.
The lawyer said that the mechanic’s family was unnecessarily suffering from a heartbreaking and stressful loss and that his two-year-old son will never get to know his father.
Lifetime mechanic Jeffrey Hawkins, 42, was killed on March 13, 2020 when he changed the oil in the jeep when a 19-year-old mechanic, who did not know how to drive a gear lever and did not have a driver’s license, started the car and removed his feet from the clutch.
His family is now suing the man who had taken his jeep to the dealership and claims he is legally responsible for the tragedy.
The accident occurred at Rochester Hills Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership
However, Femminineo noted that the jeep owner will be defended and replaced by the Rochester Hills dealer’s insurance, which will ultimately have to cover the financial damages.
‘It seems unfair, but the owner of the car is defended and indemnified by [car dealership]’Femminineo told DailyMail.com
WHY WAS THE JEEP OWNER SUBMITTED?
Under Michigan law, the only remedy for employees in cases of workplace injury is work injury compensation.
State law states: “If anyone other than either the worker, employer or colleague is liable for an injury, the ‘third party’ may be sued,” the Michigan Government website states.
Thus, if a worker is injured due to the poor design of a machine purchased by the employer from an independent company, the worker can sue the manufacturer of that machine for civil damages.
“If an employer has paid work injury compensation to an employee and the employee later receives a recovery from a third party, the employer has the right to get back the benefits he paid to the employee. However, the employer must bear his share of the lawyer’s fees and costs in the trial against third parties. ‘
Source: Michigan Government
A lawyer hired by the dealer who represented the owner of the jeep was reached by DailyMail.com and declined to comment.
Rochester Hills Jeep dealers can not be sued because of a legal standard in Michigan that protects employers from liability in the event of workplace accidents.
The 19-year-old can also not be sued because the same legal parameter prevents employees involved in accidents from suing each other.
Femminineo says the strategy is only a legal detour to ensure that Hawkins’ family is compensated for the inexperienced loss of the family father and that the Jeep owner will be released from paying money in the civil case, as he is supported by the dealer’s insurance.
The Michigan Act states that “if anyone other than either the worker, the employer or a colleague is liable for an injury, the” third party “- in this case the jeep owner – may be sued.
The lawyer said that the mechanic’s family was unnecessarily affected by a heartbreaking and stressful loss.
‘[The 19-year-old mechanic] starts the car, removes the foot from the clutch and do you know what happens? The jeep jumps and kills my client, says Femminineo to FOX News.
“He was an excellent man,” Femminineo added. “The two-year-old who was about a year old at the time of the accident, the time of death, he will never know his father.”
Femminineo told DailyMail.com that the owner of the car was responsible for voluntarily handing over the keys to his vehicle to the dealer.
Lawyer David Femminineo noted that the owners of the jeep, who have not been mentioned in public, will be defended and replaced by the Rochester Hills dealer’s insurance, which will ultimately have to cover the financial damage.
“When you hand over your car to someone, including the clerk or the person at your local dealer’s service desk, it’s better that you can trust that person,” he told FOX.
The dealer’s insurance will defend the owner and pay for any judgments and legal fees.
A court date is scheduled for May 20 and Hawkins State is suing for $ 15 million in financial damages.
DailyMail.com contacted the owner of the jeep and asked why the 19-year-old mechanic had been hired, given that he did not know how to drive a manual gearbox, but the lawyer declined to comment.