Disciplinary action by the PRB on behalf of the Association may include private reprimands; private censure, suspension of the ability to participate in the Association and, most severe of all, bared from the ability to continue membership in our jurisdiction. Should a member wish to appeal the finding of the PRB they may submit a written appeal within 30 days by certified mail. Appeal must include position proof of procedural error or correction of incorrect evidence.
The New York State Auto Collision Technicians Association may be used to decide final arbiter in questions of professional conduct in all NY jurisdictions.
Since 1975, the ARA has been responsible for defining the standards of proper conduct for the collision repair profession. These standards, many of them established by the ARA's stand on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, are continuously evolving as technology and the production of motor vehicles evolve. In 2009, the ARA adopted this Model Code of Professional Ethics, as a guideline for membership qualification, proper conduct and basis for certification.
The ARA modified the code by adopting the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The model code rules have been used by other states to create guidelines for professional conduct. Whatever the basis, these codes define the collision repairers role and relationship to the consumer/customer. It is essential that these ethical codes be followed so that uniformity is established within the industry. Failure to do so may result in financial loss by unnecessary liability exposure to malpractice suits against the collision repairer too financial loss for consumers, injury and death.
Besides issuing these general statements, the model rules set down many specific requirements of conduct in different situations.
Because of a collision repairers relationship to the consumer, members of the association are beneficiaries of the consumers trust. You are subject to duties and responsibilities that include the word fiduciary. This quote comes from the Latin word fiducia, meaning "trust"; as a fiduciary, the professional is entrusted with defining elements of re-manufacture of damaged vehicles, and without it, the trade does not exist. For that reason, this profession has created rules of conduct regarding the relationship with consumers.
The model rules set forth specific guidelines defining the consumer relationship. A professional will be guilty of misconduct, for example, if he or she fails to provide competent repair according to manufactures guidelines or documented proof of the reason for variation acting with diligence regarding a consumers safety. Charging exorbitant fees or over-billing is also considered misconduct, as is counseling a consumer to commit a crime.
Many types of misconduct involve a conflict of interest on the part of the collision repairer. A conflict of interest arises when a professional puts personal interests ahead of professional responsibilities to the consumer. The model rules specify the potential for conflict of interest in many different situations. Thus, for example, a professional collision repairer who by representing a consumer cannot represent the interests of a insurance company paying for the cost of repairs. This activity adversely affects the consumers right to fair settlement. Conflict of interest is misconduct. Conflict of interest rules also forbid us to enter into a business transaction with a consumer unless the consumer is fully aware of how the transaction will affect his or her rights and agrees to the transaction in writing.
Any misuse of the consumerís privacy or money by the professional is called misappropriation of consumer funds ó constituting a serious breach of trust and a gross example of misconduct. This offense includes consumer fraud including knowingly charging for parts or services while not performing the repair. While typical rules of confidentiality do not apply unless contractually agreed. It is understood professional repairers are not protected by law as Doctors, Lawyers and Clergy are. However rules of contractual privacy apply and afford certain protection of confidentiality.
Other Types of Misconduct
As the model rules indicate, you may be charged with misconduct if you commit a criminal act. However, not all violations of the law may result in professional censure. According to the ARA, a professional is responsible "only for offenses that indicate lack of those characteristics relevant to collision repair." They do however include violations involving "violence, dishonesty, breach of trust, or consumer fraud. Nevertheless, violations of the law may seriously impair a professionalís standing.
Ethical rules also govern the conduct of professionals toward other members. It is considered misconduct if a member attempts to influence a member of the PRB or PRP by coercion, bribery or intimidation. Professional collision repairers are forbidden from discussing or negotiating a consumer insurance claim without his or her prior written authorization. This rule follows NY State Regulation 64 designed to protect a consumers right to fair settlement.
Professional collision repairers are guilty of misconduct with regard to falsely advertising their services. It is illegal and for purposes of this Code of Professional Conduct, unethical for collision repairers to knowingly advertise in a false, deceptive, or misleading manner. To make unsubstantiated claims regarding services for proposes contrary to rules of professional conduct.