Part of owning a car involves making sure that it is properly maintained. While there are some maintenance issues that you can easily address yourself, including making sure that the tires are properly inflated and that broken or malfunctioning headlights or windshield wipers are replaced, other issues will likely need to be addressed by an experienced mechanic. For example, if your vehicle’s brakes are malfunctioning, or the engine overheats.
While these repairs can be expensive, failure to identify and address mechanical failures in a timely fashion can increase the risk of a serious car accident. If you suffered a serious injury in a car accident that was caused by a mechanical failure, an experienced lawyer will review the details and recommend the best legal course of action.
While distracted driving and drunk driving remain at the top of the list of the most common causes of car accidents in the United States, mechanical failures are also responsible for a significant percentage of preventable collisions. The following are examples of some of the most common mechanical failures that can lead to serious collisions.
This is the most common cause of mechanical failure-related accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The following are the two most common tire-related problems that can cause serious car accidents:
- Tire blowouts: Tires that are worn, overinflated, underinflated or punctured by debris in the road can burst suddenly, making it very difficult for the driver to maintain control of the vehicle. If there are other cars in the vicinity, this can cause a multi-vehicle crash.
- Worn tires: When tires become worn, they lose their tread. This causes the tire to lose its grip on the road, making it more likely to slip, particularly during inclement weather. For example, hydroplaning is a condition that occurs when the vehicle starts to slide uncontrollably on wet roads due to the tires losing traction. This is more likely to occur when the tires are worn. Tires should be checked regularly to ensure that they are properly aligned to prevent the tires from wearing out faster. Car owners should replace the vehicle’s tires before they lose their tread.
According to the NHTSA, brake failure is responsible for over 20 percent of car accidents, making it the second most common cause of collisions. The following are some of the most common causes of brake-related car accidents:
- Faulty brake lines: If there is a leak in the brake lines, the brakes will not perform.
- Anti-lock braking system malfunctions: The anti-lock braking system (ABS) prevents the wheel from locking up when the driver hits the brakes too hard. If the ABS malfunctions, the driver could lose control of the vehicle.
- Worn brake pad and discs: When these become too worn out over time, they become less effective. As a result, it becomes more difficult and requires more road space to stop the vehicle.
Steering and Suspension
This is the third most common cause of car accidents related to mechanical failure, although they are only responsible for roughly three percent of all car accidents. Part of the reason why steering and suspension issues are rarely cited as the cause of a car accident is that they are more difficult to document after the crash, whereas blown tires and faulty brake lines are easier to identify. The best way to prevent this type of mechanical failure is to have your vehicle maintained on a regular basis.
If the vehicle’s engine is not functioning properly, the car will not work. Unfortunately, if the engine overheats or stops working suddenly, causing the car to break down, this can cause an accident. The main cause of engine failure is a lack of oil in the car. When the oil is low, or needs to be changed , the car can overheat and cause major damage to the engine. Car owners should keep up with the routine maintenance, including getting the oil changed about every 3,000 miles.
Headlights and Tail Lights
If the vehicle’s lights are not working properly, it can be difficult to see during inclement weather or at night. In addition, oncoming vehicles may not see your car as they are approaching if the headlights are not working. Even on a clear, sunny day, if the turn signals or hazards are not working, you will not be able to alert other drivers when you are turning or switching lanes.
Broken or poorly functioning windshield wipers will cause decreased visibility during inclement weather, like rain, sleet, and snow. They are also less effective at clearing away debris, such as leaves and dirt. If the wipers break suddenly, causing a loss of visibility, this can cause a serious accident, particularly if you are driving on a busy highway. In addition to checking the windshield wipers regularly, make sure that there is plenty of windshield wiper fluid.
Who Is Liable for a Car Accident Caused by Mechanical Failure?
There are a number of parties who may be liable for a car accident that is caused by mechanical failures. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, one or more of the following parties may be liable:
- Driver: As the vehicle’s owner, you are responsible for making sure it is properly maintained and that any necessary repairs are made. If you fail to take proper care of your vehicle and you are involved in an accident that was caused by mechanical failure, you may be responsible for damages.
- Mechanic or technician: If your mechanic was negligent, did a poor job servicing the vehicle, or intentionally damaged the car, they may be held liable for property damage and injuries.
- Vehicle manufacturer: There have been a number of highly publicized recalls that have occurred due to a manufacturing failure or malfunction. If it can be proven that the manufacturer was negligent in some way, you may be able to pursue a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.
How Can I Prevent a Mechanical Failure-Related Car Accident?
There are proactive steps you can take to ensure that your vehicle is working properly. To prevent a mechanical failure, keep the following tips in mind:
- Check tire pressure regularly, particularly during the colder months when the freezing temperatures cause the air in the tires to constrict.
- Check the tire treads, and replace the tires if they become too worn or have uneven surfaces.
- Replace the wiper blades regularly.
- Schedule regular maintenance appointments with a skilled mechanic.
- Go online to see if your vehicle has any recalled parts.
What Damages am I Entitled to if I am Hurt in a Car Accident?
Depending on the nature of the mechanical failure and the severity of the accident, mechanical failure accidents can cause very serious injuries. The costs associated with these injuries can accumulate very quickly. A successful personal injury claim will ensure that you are compensated for the following:
- All medical expenses related to the injury, including hospitalization, surgeries, follow-up doctor appointments, physical therapy, and prescription medications.
- Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity if the injury prevents you from being able to return to work for an extended period of time.
- Pain and suffering.
- Property damage.
- Psychological trauma.
- Loss of consortium.
- Wrongful death benefits for surviving family members if the accident resulted in a fatality.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Advocate for Drivers Injured in Mechanical Failure-Related Collisions
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident because of a mechanical failure, do not hesitate to contact one of our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC. Mechanical failure accidents are preventable if vehicles are properly manufactured and maintained. Our dedicated legal team will assist you with every step of the claims process. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.