Learning About Criminal Law Proceedings

Who Should Be Held Liable When an Accident Is Caused by Brake Failure?

Accidents caused by brake failures are thankfully fairly rare, but they're usually severe when they occur. When a driver is unable to stop or slow down their car at all, a high-speed collision is likely. Unlike an auto accident caused by driver error, however, there may be more parties at fault in an accident caused by brake failure. The mechanic who last serviced the brakes or the auto manufacturer may be at fault for the accident. Below, you'll find more information about who can be found negligent for an auto accident caused by brake failure.

The Driver

In most cases of auto accidents caused by brake failure, the driver is the one at fault. All car owners have the legal duty to keep their cars in a condition that's safe to drive, and that includes keeping the brakes in good condition. Unfortunately, some car owners neglect this duty due to the high cost of auto repairs. When a driver ignores the sound of their brake pads grinding because they'd cost too much to replace, it's likely that they would be at fault in any accident caused by the brake pads failing.

You can protect yourself against liability by having your brakes inspected and your brake pads replaced according to the schedule in your owner's manual. Make sure that you only use qualified mechanics, and keep all records of having your brakes inspected or repaired. By doing this, you'll keep yourself safe on the road and minimize your liability in the event of an accident caused by brake failure.

The Mechanic

Mechanics have the legal duty to ensure that all repairs and inspections are performed competently. If a mechanic fails to notice your brake fluid leaking during a brake inspection, for example, then they may be at fault for the accident. Likewise, they may be at fault if they install the wrong brake pads on your car or install pads that are obviously faulty. Auto shops are also responsible for making sure that all of the mechanics they hire are qualified. If they allowed an unqualified person to work on your brakes, they may be at fault for the accident. 

In order to prove that the mechanic or auto shop was negligent, it's best to have your car towed to another auto shop right after the brake failure occurs. Another mechanic can inspect your brakes to determine the cause of the brake failure and whether or not it may have been caused by the previous mechanic's poor work.

The Manufacturer

In some cases, the manufacturer of the car may be at fault after a brake failure. If the manufacturer knew there was a defect in the brakes and didn't recall the car, then they can be held liable for the accident. If they did issue a recall, however, then they're no longer liable—owners were warned about the faulty brakes and were given the chance to have them fixed for free.

Proving that the car manufacturer knew about the problem requires an exhaustive search of similar brake failures in the same model of car. If failures have been frequent, then the car manufacturer should have been aware of them. In the case where the car manufacturer was liable for the accident, then they'd be responsible for paying the damages for all parties involved.

If you were keeping your brakes in good condition and were in an auto accident caused by a brake failure, contact an auto accident attorney in your area. An attorney can research similar cases to determine if the manufacturer could potentially be at fault for the accident, and they can also help you determine if the brake failure may have been caused by poor work on the part of the mechanic who serviced your brakes.