Unfortunately, a damaged windshield in Tampa is not only inconvenient. It is dangerous.
But windshield glass damage has become increasingly common as vehicles become more lightweight. Whether you have sustained a small crack or chip in your windshield, or more significant damage, you never want to ignore it, no matter how small. Studies have shown that 90 percent of all chips will develop into large cracks over time, often when a driver is not expecting it.
Your Windshield Plays an Important Role in Your Safety
Your windshield is not just a piece of glass. It is a complete system designed with your safety in mind. A windshield system is designed to maintain the structural integrity of your car and ensure that your airbags deploy properly in case of an accident.
Damaged windshield glass is also 60 to 70 percent weaker than undamaged glass. Testing has shown that 90 percent of unrepaired chips will crack out within minutes in situations of high stress. Consequently, windshield damage can lead to serious safety issues if you are subsequently involved in an accident.
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Not All Repairs Are Created Equal
Unfortunately, not all windshield repairs are created equal. Windshield repair requires skilled training using specifically designed glass and processes. Many technicians don’t have the proper training to repair or replace windshields to ensure their structural integrity.
Poor or improper installation can cause a windshield to separate from a vehicle during an accident. This renders an airbag system useless in these moments. Consequently, it is critical to choose a reputable company that employs certified and insured technicians to install your new windshield.
Not All Glass is Created Equal
Furthermore, not all windshield glass is created equal. There are two types of glass used in the windshield replacement industry – OEM, or original equipment manufactured glass, and aftermarket glass. OEM is a windshield that is made by the car manufacturer of your vehicle. Aftermarket glass, or OEE (original equipment equivalent), is more generic and does not come from the automobile manufacturer.
Technology has ensured that windshields do far more than protect vehicle occupants from the weather. In addition to safety systems, they also include heating elements, auto-dimming features, forward collision warnings, and many other systems. Automobile manufacturers highly encourage people who need to replace their windshields to do so with an OEM replacement to ensure safety and that other systems work correctly.
Know What You Are Getting
In Tampa, while you have the right to choose the company to complete your work through your insurance coverage, Florida § 627.7288 only requires that a new windshield or glass be of the “same fit, quality and performance.” It does not have to be an OEM windshield.
Consequently, it’s important for you to understand exactly what you are agreeing to when you contract for windshield replacement under your insurance policy in Florida. If you have signed over your insurance benefits to a repair shop, you may have no idea what you are getting.
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Read the Fine Print
You should get documentation of the work that was done by the repair shop as well as warranties or guarantees on parts and labor. If you don’t understand something, you should ask questions. Legally, a repair shop cannot refuse to give you your vehicle back if you refuse to pay for unauthorized repairs.
If you think you may have been the victim of repair fraud, you can file a complaint against the repair shop with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as well as the Florida Attorney General’s Office.
Repair Shop Negligence and Liability
Furthermore, a repair shop may be held liable for an accident caused by their negligence.
If you have been injured in a car accident that you suspect may have been caused by your windshield replacement, you should get the advice and guidance of a Tampa personal injury attorney to discuss the details of your case. Contact the Tampa personal injury attorneys at Ged Lawyers, LLP at 888-4GEDLAW (toll free) or (941) 225-2744 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.