Motor vehicle accidents can be caused by any number of things: distracted driving, speeding, drunk or drugged driving, failing to heed posted traffic signage, reckless driving, inclement weather and poorly maintained roads. Wrecks can also be caused by mechanical defects and malfunctions, such as brake failure.
Motorists have a responsibility to maintain their vehicle's systems—including brakes—to ensure that they are in good working order. However, even motorists who are diligent about having their vehicle inspected and maintained can experience brake failure if one of the brake's components is defective by manufacture or design.
If you were injured in an accident caused by defective brakes, here's what you need to know.
Common Causes of Brake Failure
While some cases of brake failure can be linked to poor maintenance practices, sometimes brakes fail because of a defective component. The component may be defective because of a manufacturing error or there could potentially be a defect in the design that prevents it from working as intended. Brake defects may make it more difficult to slow down or stop, or they may cause the brakes to fail completely, resulting in a serious accident. Common sources of brake failure can include:
- An improperly installed brake system
- Worn brake pads
- Leaking brake lines
- Rusted brake lines
- Defective pads, rotors, shoes or drums
Any of these brake problems can lead to brake failure—and the potential for catastrophic accidents—if not addressed immediately.
Potentially Liable Parties
When a brake defect or brake failure results in an accident, who's to blame? The answer to that important question depends largely on the circumstances of the crash. Potentially liable parties may include:
- Vehicle owner: If the owner of the vehicle was warned about a brake-related maintenance issue, but failed to have it repaired, they may be held liable for damages if their car causes an accident.
- Mechanic: A mechanic who's hired to fix a brake issue, but fails to do so, could be liable for damages if the car crashes as the result of the unresolved brake problem. They may also be considered responsible if, while servicing the vehicle, they leave the brakes in a defective condition.
- Parts manufacturer: A car parts manufacturer could be at-fault if a manufacturing error or faulty design caused the brakes to fail and cause an accident.
- Vehicle dealership: If a dealership knowingly sells a vehicle with a defective or faulty brake system, they may be liable for injuries and other accident-related damages.
Proving Brake Defects and Malfunctions
Sometimes people involved in accidents—particularly rear-end collisions—claim that their car experienced brake failure in an effort to absolve themselves of liability for damages. While motorists may occasionally be able to argue that they are not liable for car accident damages, as a result of brake failure, it is a bit of an uphill battle. In order to prove their claim, a driver must show:
- The cause of the brake failure
- That they had no prior notice of the brake issue or defect
- That their vehicle was inspected before the accident and received the appropriate repairs and maintenance
- That the cause of the brake defect or failure arose after the vehicle's most recent inspection and was not reasonably discoverable
Were You Injured in an Accident?
Proving brake defects or failure as the cause of an accident is more difficult than it sounds. However, an experienced product liability personal injury attorney can help you explore your legal options and determine if you have a viable case.
If you were injured in an accident caused by the negligence of a manufacturer, mechanic, or vehicle dealership, you may be eligible to seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, vehicle damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Contact the Morris James Personal Injury Group today to schedule a free initial evaluation of your brake defect product liability case.