Brake failure could result in a severe auto accident and injuries. Fortunately, you are entitled to receive compensation from the party accountable for the brake failure. Several factors lead to brake failure, hence making proving accountability hard. Therefore, if you have been hurt in a brake failure collision, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. You can get in touch with us at The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm if you want help in seeking compensation.
Faulty Brakes Car Accident Statistics
Road safety is a major concern. Despite strict laws and other substantial efforts to lower the number of car accidents, there has been an increase in fatal and injury-causing accidents in California. A research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discovered that many of the vehicle collisions in the U.S are due to the driver's mistake. Common motorist behaviors related to driver's mistakes include running a red light, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, and driving while tired.
Nevertheless, not all auto accidents are due to driver's error. Numerous non-motorist related causes also lead to collisions. They include inclement weather conditions, mechanical failures like faulty brakes, and physical conditions of the road. The National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (conducted by NHTSA) discovered that out of all auto accidents, mechanical failures were the leading cause of the collisions. Brake failure accounted for approximately 25% of them.
Undeniably, the brake is an essential safety feature in a vehicle and the first line of defense against car accidents. Like other mechanical systems, they are prone to defects or malfunctions. Brakes failure might cause your vehicle to lose control and collide with other cars, stationary substances, and pedestrians.
Often, it is possible to tell when your brakes have an issue. You need to pay attention to warning signs like:
- Squeaking or strange grinding noises
- Your vehicle moving to one side whenever you apply your brakes
- A spongy feeling
- Brake pedal sinking to the floor slowly
Brake fluid is another part that is often overlooked. It's better to be safe than sorry as far as brakes are concerned.
Who is Liable in a Brake Failure Accident?
You might think you will be held accountable for the damages if you failed to brake before colliding with another vehicle. Well, this is not always the case. So, who is liable if either or both cars did not brake?
You Maybe At Fault
In most car accidents, both motorists could be driving unsafely before the accident occurs. For instance, you may fail to brake in time to stop colliding with a motorist who is running a red light. In this case, both of you will share liability.
Under comparative fault rule, the judge will decide what percentage of your negligence caused your injuries. If found partially liable, your compensation award will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Can a Tailing Motorist Be Held Responsible Even if the Vehicle Had Faulty Brakes?
The answer is, why did the brakes fail in the first place? The only failure that can help a motorist escape accountability is a sudden, unexpected, complete, and unforeseeable failure.
A sudden partial brake failure is not a defense. For instance, the liable motorist was following you too closely or was not attentive. In this case, you can urge that the main reason for the accident was negligence, not mechanical failure.
Also, brake failure due to failure to maintain or repair is not a defense. The vehicle owner has the responsibility to ensure their vehicle is in a good state of repair. Therefore, in this scenario, the vehicle owner (as well as the motorist if the motorist owned the vehicle) will be found negligent for failing to repair the car. If the absence of maintenance is the primary cause of the brake failure, it means the car brakes have been failing slowly. Any reasonable motorist is aware or ought to have been informed that their brakes were failing.
If faulty brakes are the cause of your accident, one of the first places to consider when determining liability is the manufacturer. Check whether there was negligence before the vehicle hit the market. There are several ways a car manufacturer may be held accountable for malfunction brakes.
For instance, if your brakes were poorly designed, there could be a defective brake system in the whole line of vehicles on the market. Or maybe, your car may have been poorly designed, resulting in a faulty brake system. Typically, manufacturers issue a voluntary recall of cars when they learn about these defects. The recall allows them to replace or repair the defective parts.
Nonetheless, if the manufacturer does not correct the defect, they could be held accountable for any injuries sustained as a result of brake failure. The same is true to a repair company that services your vehicle if an error that they made caused the brake failure accident.
To file a claim against the auto repair company or the manufacturer, you should prove that:
- The inaction on their part resulted in the unreasonable unsafe brake system condition,
- The brake's condition led to the crash, and
- Your car has not significantly changed in between when the car repair company or the manufacturer had the car last.
Although it might seem overwhelming, a competent personal injury lawyer will walk with you every step to make sure you receive just compensation for your damages.
What To Do After a Faulty Brake Car Accident
It is normal to feel overwhelmed and confused after being involved in an accident. However, the actions you take after the car accident have an impact on your claim and the legal proceedings. They also significantly affect your rights. Here are practical steps to follow:
- Do Not Leave the Scene of the Accident If There is a Person Injured
If a person is hurt or dies, do not leave the scene until law enforcers arrive. Leaving a car accident causing injury is considered a hit and run offense. It is punishable by ten thousand dollars in fines and a maximum of a one-year jail sentence.
- Seek Medical Care
If injured and require medical help, don't wait for the law enforcers. Call 911 or request another person to do it on your behalf. If another person is taking you to the hospital, leave your contact details with the other parties involved (if you're in a position to).
- Move Your Vehicle To a Safer Location
If it's safe, move your vehicle to a safer location. Vehicles that are blocking traffic may cause more injuries. However, you should leave the cars where they are and wait for the police if a person is severely injured or has died unless the vehicles pose a substantial danger.
- Make Sure a Neutral and Qualified Mechanic Looks At the Vehicle Immediately
If you are suspecting faulty brakes caused the accident, have the vehicle checked out straight away. If you wait, it can be hard to prove what was the condition of the brakes at the time of the accident.
Ideally, a tow truck should take the vehicle from the accident scene directly to the mechanic.
For you to have a brake failure claim, the cause of the mechanical failure should be obvious. It should be something that the mechanic will spot immediately, such as a sheared-off pin or malfunctioning hose.
- Don't Say You Are Not Injured
Even if you think you aren't hurt, do not say it to those involved. Typically, a soft-tissue injury will not appear immediately. Claiming that you are not injured gives the liable party's insurance provider an excuse to offer you an unfair compensation or deny the claim.
That doesn't imply that you ought to lie. Lying can undermine your credibility. Instead, it means you do not know and will seek medical care if necessary.
- Don't Admit Fault
Even if you think you caused the accident, it is vital not to admit fault. You could be wrong. Maybe the other motorist could be partially responsible.
Saying the term "Sorry" could prevent you from receiving compensatory damages. However, ask if the other motorist is hurt or requires medical attention.
In case the other motorist pressurizes you to accept responsibility for the auto accident, politely tell them to contact your insurance provider.
How to Gather Evidence in Your Brake Failure Claim
One of the most effective methods to protect your rights is gathering evidence immediately. That way, you will be prepared when filing a claim against the liable party. Here is an overview of different forms of proof that you can collect in your case:
Photos of the Scene of the Accident
If you are not injured and have a smartphone that has a camera, take photographs of the car accident scene immediately.
Make sure you take photos of the scene from different directions, closeups, and from a distance. At the moment, you do not know which angle illustrates the accident scene best. Therefore, it is best to capture photos from different angles.
If either of the cars left skid marks, take photos of those as well. Ensure you capture from a distance. It will help you get a clear view of the marks.
Moreover, take photos of all traffic control gadgets like yield, stop signs, or traffic lights. In the photographs, make sure it is clear who had the stop or light signs.
In brake failure claim, a photograph is worth a thousand words. For instance, if the other motorist claims that they did not see the car accident occurring, but the photos show that they had a panoramic view of the crash location for two hundred meters, most likely the driver will lose. The judge and the insurance company will argue that the other driver was not attentive.
Photos of All Vehicles Involved
Additionally, you should take photographs of all the cars involved in the car accident. Take pictures of the damaged areas from closeup and afar. The car's damage can tell the jury and insurance providers about how the accident happened and who is liable. Therefore, ensure you capture clear photos.
Take Note of the Other Car's Details
After seeking medical help and moving the vehicles, the next step is taking note of:
- The license plate number of all vehicles involved in the accident
- The color, model, year, and make of all vehicles involved
- Other vehicle's vehicle identification number
The VIN can be found on the motorist's registration and insurance card. It is wise to physically confirm it, particularly if the motorist is not insured. However, don't try to get it from the vehicle without consent.
Contact Details of Witnesses and Other Motorists
If possible, do not allow the other motorist to leave the scene of the accident without identifying themselves. Nevertheless, if it's a hit and run accident, do not chase the driver. Instead, take note of the license plate and then call the law enforcers.
In case the other motorist stops but says that they have not carried their driver's license, request to see any license or official document that has their name and contact information. It could be an insurance card, credit card, or vehicle registration.
Witnesses are also essential in a brake failure claim. If you know of any person who witnessed how the accident occurred or other motorist's behavior before the car accident, make sure you obtain the contact details of that person.
Official Reports like Police Reports
If law enforcers come to the accident scene, they will draft a police report. You have a right to obtain a copy of the report. The report will include the officer's opinion on what caused the accident. Although the officer did not witness the car accident, insurance companies are always interested in knowing the police's conclusion as far as how the car accident happened is concerned.
Moreover, you have a right to obtain a copy of the report the other motorist brought with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. A DMV report is essential in proving accountability. Sometimes the driver may say something to the law enforcement agency and write another in their report. In this case, the DMV report can come in handy when exposing the other driver's inconsistency.
What are the Different Types of Damages Awarded?
Damages are used to measure the total loss incurred or will be incurred in the future due to the brake failure accident. The purpose is to make the plaintiff whole.
Generally, damages fall into two categories, namely: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are your financial losses as a result of the accident. Therefore, they are simple to quantify in dollars. You cannot calculate non-economic damages because they do not involve financial costs.
The types of damages awarded to a brake failure accident victim vary depending on the types of expenses incurred and the seriousness of the psychological or physical harm. In a successful claim, you can recover:
If you have undergone x-rays, surgery, scans, psychiatric counseling, occupational therapy, and medical treatment, the liable defendant should compensate you for the medical expenses as well as a projected amount for future medical costs. The compensation can be helpful, especially if you have suffered a catastrophic injury, require an adaptive device, or have become permanently disabled.
Pain and Suffering
Medical bills go hand in hand with pain and suffering compensation. A pain multiplier is used to determine the fair amount of pain and suffering suffered by a victim. It involves multiplying total financial losses by a number between one and five.
Loss of Consortium or Companionship
Loss of consortium is a claim filed by family members of a victim who sustained injuries in a car accident. The damage seeks to compensate for the lost relationship with the victim.
A successful personal injury claim also compensates for current and future lost income. It is compensation for work you have missed as a result of your injuries or medical treatment. Additionally, it involves payment for sick days or paid vacation.
If you are permanently disabled, you are entitled to compensation for the lost income you would expect to earn before retirement. Lost income damages also include lost job benefits.
Physical injuries, permanent physical impairment, and physical scarring can significantly affect victims emotionally. Usually, emotional distress is proved by a doctor's testimony, psychiatric records, or a member of the plaintiff's family who knows the psychological harm caused.
A diagnosis of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, the impact of the victim's lost relationship with those around them can also cause emotional distress.
Punitive damages are awarded occasionally. They are meant to punish the liable party as well as discourage them from acting the same way in the future. They are awarded if the defendant acted intentionally or outrageously.
Why You Need a Personal Injury Attorney
After being injured in an auto accident, you may think that you can handle the personal injury claim on your own. After all, how difficult can it be? You are a victim of another person's negligence, and the court or insurance provider will ensure you are fully compensated. Sadly, the legal system is neither always fair, not straightforward. Retaining an attorney will make sure you have the chance to receive full compensation for losses incurred.
The Attorney will Handle all the Paperwork and Meet Deadlines
Handling a personal injury claim involves stringent guidelines. In California, the statute of limitations gives you two years from the date of the accident to file a claim against the liable party. And if the responsible party is a government employee, the time limit of filing your claim is six months, not forgetting complying with other strict procedural rules. If the statute of limitations passes, you lose your right to compensation. Engaging a lawyer gives you peace, knowing that an experienced person is ensuring all necessary documents are well-prepared and filed timely.
Your Attorney Knows What Evidence You Need and Can Efficiently Collect it
Failing to hire a lawyer immediately can lead to loss of essential proof, which can prevent you from filing or proving your claim. Being inexperienced in law, you might not know what evidence is paramount and what is not. Moreover, you do not have adequate time to interview witnesses, analyze documents, or even draft a letter of demand. Your personal injury attorney will help you build and strengthen your claim, making sure that memories and evidence are well-kept. This prepares you for trial should you fail to reach an agreement during settlement negotiations.
A Qualified Lawyer Knows How to Value a Personal Injury Claim
After you are unexpectedly injured in an auto crash, your doctor will explain to you both the degree of your injury and what you should do to recover. However, it is difficult to tell how much that will cost you. Hiring a lawyer prevents you from settling on an amount that is below what you are owed.
Defendants and insurance companies know the best time to compensate you is when you do not know how much the car accident is going to cost you throughout the recovery process. An experienced personal injury attorney has seen numerous similar claims to understand what a plaintiff needs concerning costs and losses incurred from lost income or lost earning capacity.
Pain, frustration, fear, and anger can affect your ability to see facts well. A lawyer can be more objective about your claim than you. Hence will not rush to make a decision. For instance, you might want to settle for a quick payout, but the attorney could advise you that it is best to wait for a fairer offer.
Find an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
After being injured in a brake failure car accident, you might not know where to turn to. While you need to pay attention to your injury, the hefty medical expenses can lead to stress that might interfere with the recovery process. You could also be losing income if you are missing work while receiving treatment. Do not let the liable party escape the responsibility of compensating you for what you deserve. Instead, contact one of our qualified attorneys at The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm at 619-625-8707 to schedule your initial consultation. We can assist you in filing your personal injury claim as well as fight for your rights.