Most car accident cases involve the injured person making a claim against the driver who caused the collision. But, occasionally, a car accident is caused–at least in part–by something other than driver negligence. Some common examples include faulty road design or maintenance and defective automobile parts. Another is negligent car, truck, or motorcycle repairs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in one three-year period, about 44,000 traffic accidents around the country were caused by vehicle failures. The most common were tire and wheel-related problems and brake problems. These two categories made up more than half of the crashes caused by vehicle-related problems.
When a mechanical failure causes a motor vehicle accident, liability depends on the specifics of the specifics of the crash. The most common possibilities include:
- The manufacturer of the vehicle or part, if the failure was due to a design or manufacturing defect
- The repair shop that made faulty repairs, if negligent repairs or maintenance caused the failure that led to the accident
- The driver, if they were aware of or should have been aware of the problems with the vehicle and risks the problems posed and drove the vehicle anyway
Pursuing a Claim after a Vehicle Failure Accident
Vehicle Owner Claims
The simplest type of car accident case based on a faulty vehicle repair is a suit filed by the vehicle owner. The owner of the car has knowledge of any recent repairs that may be related to the accident, and has a direct relationship with the mechanic’s shop. But, that doesn’t mean that liability is automatic or the case will be simple.
Imagine, for example, that a car owner had the brakes repaired at a local mechanic’s shop on Saturday, then drove the car a short distance home and left it parked over the weekend. On Monday morning, the driver pulls into a space in a parking garage and hits the wall in front of the car.
It’s not enough to prove that the mechanic worked on the brakes on Saturday and there was a braking-related accident on Monday. The injured vehicle owner will also have to show that brake failure or some other problem with the brakes caused the accident, and that the work done on the brakes was negligent and the cause of the failure. Proving that the brakes failed and that the mechanic’s negligence was the reason for the failure will typically require expert analysis and testimony.
When the injured party is a pedestrian, bicyclist, or occupant of another vehicle, there is an additional layer of complication. In that situation, the injured person won’t have any way of knowing the other vehicle was recently repaired. That is, unless either the other driver tells them or an attorney who is experienced in handling car accident claims uses the discovery process to gather information that may lead to other responsible parties.
This issue illustrates the importance of contacting an experienced local car accident attorney as soon as possible after an injury. One of the attorney’s first steps will be to assess your case and identify possible responsible parties for further investigation. An experienced motor vehicle accident attorney will also be able to explain exactly what you’ll need to prove to establish your claim, and to work with experts to establish the cause of the collision and who is responsible for the failure of a vehicle part.
If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, you can schedule a free consultation right now by calling 978-459-3085 or filling out the contact form on this site. The sooner you connect with an experienced attorney, the better, as filing deadlines may vary depending on the state, type of claim, and responsible party.
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