If you have been injured in a car, truck, or other motor vehicle accident, you may be wondering what your options are. Who is to blame for what happened? If mechanical failure contributed to the crash, is this simply an "accident" or is someone responsible? Depending on the details in your case, the answers may surprise you.
It is important to speak with a car accident attorney as soon as possible in order to get answers and secure compensation. Our attorneys at Arnold & Itkin are knowledgeable and experienced, and we can answer your questions and help you take the right course of action after your accident. We recognize the importance of protecting consumers' rights after injuries caused by defective products, and that includes motor vehicle parts.
Mechanical Failure & Car Accidents: When Strict Liability Applies
Manufacturers can be held strictly liable when people are injured or killed by their defective products. This includes cars, trucks, SUVs, and motorcycles, as well as all the parts and systems that make up these complex vehicles. Braking systems, tires, ignition switches, and the overall design of a vehicle can all be contributing factors in a collision. When this happens, injured parties have the right to hold at-fault companies accountable.
Strict liability refers to a situation where a party can be held legally responsible for another's injury without the injured party having to prove specific negligence or wrongdoing. Because manufacturers have an obligation to produce products that are reasonably safe to use, they can be held accountable in civil court based on manufacturing defects, design defects, or improper marketing alone.
Let's take a deeper look at how mechanical failure can cause a car accident:
- A manufacturing defect in an ignition system could cause a key to fall out while the vehicle is in use, leaving the driver out of control and unable to slow down or stop the vehicle.
- A poorly designed SUV may have a propensity to roll over even during normal maneuvers, causing serious collisions and crush injuries.
- A vehicle's cruise control system advertised as "hands-free" or "attention-free" could deceive motorists into thinking they do not have to keep their hands on the wheel, leading to severe crashes.
- A defective gas pedal may become stuck, causing unintentional acceleration and catastrophic collisions.
These are just a few examples of how mechanical failure causes car accidents. If manufacturing or design defects were to blame, the manufacturer could be held strictly liable. If the vehicle was poorly maintained, it could be the owner's fault or the fault of a negligent mechanic. Businesses that own and operate cars, trucks, and other vehicles may also be liable for failing to inspect and maintain company vehicles.
Examples of Truck Equipment Failure
Equipment failure is the second leading cause of truck accidents in the United States. It’s a serious problem. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers and trucking companies to examine their vehicles closely prior to each trip. The FMCSA also requires other, more thorough examinations to be held at regular intervals during the year. Unfortunately, these regulations are occasionally ignored.
Examples of equipment failure in large commercial trucks include, just to name a few:
- Tire blowouts caused by low tire pressure, faulty tires, or low tread
- Missing reverse detection warning equipment
- Faulty brakes
- Improperly loaded trucks causing jackknife or rollover accidents
Is the Manufacturer or Trucking Company Responsible?
Many times when there is a mechanical failure, the manufacturer can be held accountable for the malfunction. Common truck mechanical failures include faulty brakes, problems with steering, and faulty windshield wipers, among other issues. If there was no warning of product malfunction and the part still failed and caused an accident, then the manufacturer can be held accountable for it.
The trucking company itself can be held accountable, however, if the manufacturer issued a recall or another type of warning but the company did not heed the warning. If the trucking company failed to replace a part that they were responsible for and this part contributes to an accident, then the trucking company can be held liable for damages.
Is the Truck Driver Responsible for Mechanical Failure?
In some cases, even the truck driver may be held responsible for a mechanical failure that causes a crash. There are certain aspects of the vehicle’s care and maintenance that are under the care and responsibility of the truck driver. These aspects of the vehicle’s maintenance may include tires, mirrors, and lights. Truck drivers are responsible for checking the truck's parts, so if they continue to drive even after they noticed a broken taillight or a stripped tire and they cause an accident, then they can be held responsible.
Shared & Comparative Negligence for Mechanical Failure
In some cases, fault for mechanical failure can be shared between two or more parties. A manufacturer may have produced a vehicle with defective brakes, for example, but if a driver knew of the defect and did not take action to get it fixed, the driver could share some of the blame. Or, the driver may have been speeding or driving drunk at the time of the crash. While the faulty brakes may have contributed to the collision, the driver may be partially to blame.
When fault is shared between more than one party, they may be held jointly responsible for paying a victim's damages. Or, a person's claim may be reduced by whatever percentage they are at fault. In the example above, if the driver who was speeding was found to be 10% to blame for the crash, their settlement or award would be reduced by that amount. If the manufacturer was 90% to blame, the company would pay that percent to the driver.
Each state has varying laws related to comparative negligence and shared liability, so it is important to talk to your lawyer about fault for mechanical failure and how it may apply to your unique case.
Retain a Nationwide Car Accident Lawyer Today
Being involved in a car or trucking accident is a serious matter. If you have been in an accident, you likely suffered damages and injuries. It is important to protect your future and your rights by speaking with a skilled car accident lawyer about your case. If defective truck equipment or mechanical failure was to blame for the accident, seek the help of Arnold & Itkin today. We’ve recovered over $15 billion for the injured and are ready to help.
Speak with a lawyer from our firm about your case by calling (888) 493-1629 today!