Mechanical problems are often overlooked as a factor in auto accidents. Mechanical problems can cause a crash directly, or they can create problems that serve as a contributing factor in an accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finds that accidents where mechanical failure of a vehicle component is a contributing factor, about 60% of accidents are caused by problems with tires, brakes, or steering and suspension. About 40% of accidents have unspecified causes.
Problems with tires account for about 35% of crashes where mechanical failure is a cause of the accident. Typically, these accidents are caused by tire blowouts or worn tires. Tire blowouts are often caused by underinflated or overinflated tires that burst under pressure. Worn tires lead to accidents because the diminished tread makes them more likely to slip, requires you to have more distance to brake, and creates conditions where your vehicle isn't as responsive due to a weak grip on the road.
Faulty brakes are the cause in about 22% of accidents due to mechanical failure. Rear-end collisions are particularly common when a driver has faulty brakes, since this makes it impossible to stop in time to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of him. Common causes of faulty brakes include worn brake pads and discs, ABS malfunctions, and faulty or worn brake lines.
3. Steering and Suspension
Steering or suspension problems can cause you to lose control of your vehicle at a crucial moment, which can lead to a collision with another car or a fixed object. However, it's often difficult to establish that steering or suspension problems contributed to an accident. While faulty tires or worn brakes are easy to spot, damage to the steering and suspension isn't always immediately distinguishable from the vehicle damage caused by the collision.
4. Windshield Wipers
Faulty windshield wipers might not seem like a big deal, but they can diminish visibility in rainy conditions. Worn out wiper blades are the most common type of problem drivers experience, but the motor that controls the windshield wipers can lead to an accident if it suddenly breaks in heavy traffic.
5. Headlights and Taillights
In addition to helping you see the road clearly, headlights and taillights make you visible to other drivers. When your lights aren't working properly, the risk of an accident increases. Problems with headlights or taillights are particularly dangerous at night or in foggy weather.
Determining Liability for an Accident
Determining liability is the first step in filing a personal injury claim. When an accident involves mechanical failure, there are three possibilities for who might be responsible:
- If you knew or should have reasonably known about the problem that caused the accident, the resulting damages are your responsibility. It is well-established that drivers have a duty to inspect and maintain their vehicles to ensure the safety of themselves and others.
- If the failure is due to a design or manufacturing flaw, the company that made the faulty vehicle component can be held responsible.
- If the failure is due to repair work that wasn't performed correctly, the mechanic can be held responsible. This includes errors made due to inexperience, inattentiveness, or negligence.
When an accident involves mechanical failure and the error of another driver, both parties are responsible for the portion of the damages determined by their percentage of fault.
How Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Can Help
A personal injury claim is a type of civil suit seeking compensation for medical expenses, lost wages or loss of future earning potential, and pain and suffering. Since it's not always immediately apparent who is responsible for damages caused by mechanical failure, retaining the services of an experienced attorney is a must. Your attorney can gather evidence to establish liability, document damages, and negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's dedicated legal team advocates for Louisiana residents who've been injured in car accidents caused by mechanical failure. Contact us online or call our office directly 318.541.8188 to schedule a no-fee consultation.