Can Drivers Be Held Liable for Crashes Caused by Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Drivers have a legal obligation to properly maintain their vehicles to ensure they are safe to operate. If they fail to uphold this duty and a crash results, they may be held liable for their negligence.
The TSR Injury Law team is prepared to investigate all factors that contributed to a collision and determine who may be liable and why.
Was the Malfunction Foreseeable?
A central question involved in negligent vehicle maintenance cases is whether the owner was aware of a problem with the vehicle and could reasonably anticipate that it could cause a crash. If the owner knew or should have known about a problem that could foreseeably result in the vehicle’s failure and possibly a collision, he or she might be held legally liable for the damages that result.
Here are some scenarios where an owner should probably be aware of a maintenance issue:
- The owner hears a noise – Hearing an unusual noise while driving is usually a tip that something is wrong. For example, if the owner hears a loud noise when turning, this may suggest a problem with the power steering. If the power steering goes out on the vehicle, the owner may lose control of the vehicle and cause a crash. Bad brakes may also be noticeable by a loud screeching or grinding noise.
- A light appears on the dashboard – Many modern vehicles are equipped with warning lights that indicate a problem with the engine or other issues with the vehicle.
- The owner observes spills – The owner may see a buildup of oil, power steering fluid, water or brake fluid in his or her usual parking space. He or she may see a balding tire or separated tire tread. These observations indicate a problem with the vehicle that should be checked out and addressed.
- The vehicle handles differently – Sometimes the owner may not know that there is a problem with a vehicle until he or she notices something different when driving it. For example, he or she may encounter a grinding constriction when turning that may indicate a problem with the power steering. If the vehicle pulls to one side, there may be a problem with a wheel, there may be brake problems or the vehicle may need an alignment.
- Report from mechanic – The owner may take the vehicle in to a professional and receive a printout or verbal opinion about a problem. The owner may not be able to afford the repair and may continue to drive the car despite the possibility that the vehicle may malfunction.
- Mechanic may also be liable – if the car owner gets their car “fixed” but it still malfunctions later and causes a crash, the mechanic might have legal responsibility for the crash.
- Receipt of factory recall notice – If the vehicle owner received a recall notice of a problem and did not take in the vehicle to have the issue corrected, this can support your theory that a potential collision was foreseeable. Many vehicle recalls are very important and need to be immediately addressed.
Components that Often Cause Crashes
When certain components fail or malfunction, there is a high risk for a serious accident that could result in severe injury or death.
Here are some vehicle problems that may be caused by poor maintenance:
- Brake failure caused by inadequate brake fluids or disrepair of brake lines, pads or shoes
- Tire blowouts caused by inadequate tread or air or uneven balancing
- Separated wheels caused by improper installation or replacement of a tire or overheated wheel bearings
- Suspension problems that cause the vehicle to jerk in the wrong direction
- Power steering failure caused by improper servicing or inadequate power steering fluid
How a Lawyer Can Help
TSR Injury Law represents personal injury victims. We handle all aspects of the legal process to allow victims to focus on recovering. Our Bloomington car accident lawyers have a proven track record of recovering fair compensation for our clients.
We offer a free consultation to discuss your claim and your legal options. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary and confidential case review.
TSR Injury Law: (612) TSR-TIME.