Usually, car crashes occur because a single or more motorists were negligent in various ways while driving. The more apparent negligent acts one can identify quickly include speeding, DUI, ignoring traffic signs, failure to signal, etc. However, we also have more difficult negligent conduct that is hard to prove, for example, when the car’s brakes malfunction. Generally, in a situation like this, an insurance adjuster will determine liability with the aid of eyewitnesses, physical proof, and police reports. In case the adjuster is unable to do so, the case will have to be taken to court.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Los Angeles that occurred due to brake failure, contact The LA Personal Injury Law Firm as soon as possible. Our attorneys work tirelessly with victims of personal injury to ensure they get their deserved compensation. We will help you determine the liable party and file a personal injury lawsuit against them.
Causes of Brake Failure
It can be challenging to prove brake failure as the cause of a car accident. Most drivers or the other parties responsible for vehicle maintenance don’t want just to admit that they committed a mistake. A motorist could be deemed negligent in an accident caused by brake failure, especially if there’s evidence that his/her mechanic notified him/her of brake problems before the crash and he/she didn’t have checked out. Short of this proof, unless there’s a recall from the manufacturer, it will be challenging to prove the driver’s negligence.
Every part of a vehicle serves an essential purpose. Should one part fail to function correctly, the others will be affected. Brakes, for example, are the most critical systems in the car to help you maintain road safety. Therefore, ensure to maintain them before a problem as an accident arises. The link between a defective product and an accident isn’t always evident. That is why a lawyer may help. There are several reasons why brake failure can occur. They include:
- When brake shoes or pads become crystallized or hardened and are not effective anymore
- When brakes get soaked with grease or oil from a front transaxle or rear differential
- When the power brake booster loses power-assist because of loss of engine vacuum or because hot spots have formed on the rotors or brake drums and are resistant to the friction required for the brakes to function correctly.
- When the brakes overheat, they may damage the brake rotors or pads
- Hydraulic lines may also cause problems if they aren’t correctly attached
A motorist has to maintain the brakes of their vehicles to guarantee every road user’s safety. However, in certain cases, a driver might not be responsible if the brakes of his/her car fail. To successfully show that you aren’t to blame for the brake failure that led to the crash, you must prove:
- The actual reason why the brakes failed
- That nothing had happened before to alert you of the brake failure or defect, or to alert you of another failure or defect which eventually contributed to the brakes failing
- That thorough inspection had been done to your car within a reasonable period before the crash, and proper maintenance carried out accordingly
- Either that the reason for brake failure occurred after car inspection, or it was of a nature that it couldn’t be discovered even after a reasonable inspection within a reasonable period before the auto accident or collision.
By arguing these points, you will be conceding that you violated your duty as a driver to keep your brakes in a proper working condition and are seeking to refute the presumption of negligence. Consequently, you will be fighting a tough battle. If you fail to prove any of the above points successfully, you will most likely be ruled negligent for failing to maintain your brakes. Then, you will be held responsible for the injuries sustained as a result of the crash.
The ideal way to prevent car crashes due to brake failures is to have your brakes well-maintained. Squeaks or grinding noises in brakes while drivers could be an indication of failure, and it must be addressed immediately. Also, brake fluid should be maintained just as much as the brakes itself. It is critical to have properly functioning brakes, and they have to be changed at least after every other year. Most brake fluids have glycol, which starts to suck moisture immediately. In case the fluid is not changed frequently, moisture will build up and make it less effective. Even though new car owner manuals don’t always mention the regular changing of brake fluid, changing them is crucial.
Proving brake failure in court mostly depends on outside conditions like proof from the scene of the accident and witness reports. It’s useful to keep a comprehensive record of everything concerning the accident as well as brake failure. Police reports, pictures, medical expenses, and insurance communications should be carefully documented. Being involved in any crash is scary. An auto accident due to brake failure can be frustrating due to how difficult it is to prove. Stay calm and record everything so that you can make the process as easy as possible.
Laws change from time to time, from one jurisdiction to another. Ensure to contact a skilled car accident lawyer who is capable of helping you with your specific case.
Common Injuries You Can Sustain in a Brake Failure Car Accident
Generally, brake failure accident victims sustain similar injuries as the passengers or drivers in speeding crashes. The reason for this is that without properly-functioning brakes, the motorist can’t mitigate the collision with lower speeds. Consequently, common injuries you may sustain include:
- Head, back, and neck injuries, including concussions and whiplash
- Traumatic brain injury
- Facial injuries due to airbag deployment
- Pelvic or collarbone fractures
- Soft tissue injuries like strains, sprains, and contusions
Certain injuries are noticed immediately and treated, while others will take a long time for their symptoms to show. The injuries that take longer to be noticed may be challenging to prove that they resulted from the accident. That is why it’s critical to seek medical care immediately after the crash, even if you do not feel hurt or pain. The doctor will examine you for any injury, including any that could be hidden and provide the necessary medical treatment. Also, undergoing treatment will provide you with a medical record indicating that the injury resulted from the accident.
What You Should Do After a Brake Failure Car Accident
After being involved in a collision due to brake failure, there are various steps you should take. They include:
Do Not Drive the Vehicle from the Scene of the Accident
If you are alleging that the brakes of the car didn’t work properly, leading to an accident, it will not make sense to drive the vehicle away from the scene. In case you have a credible claim, then you should not try to continue operating the auto after the crash. No one will believe the argument that the accident occurred due to brake failure if the vehicle isn’t immediately towed to a garage and be inspected after the crash.
A neutral and qualified mechanic must inspect the car immediately
If you are claiming that defective brakes led to your car crash, let the vehicle be checked out straight away. Waiting for even a few days will make it very hard to establish the exact condition the brakes were in when the accident took place.
Ideally, the vehicle should be towed from the accident scene and taken straight to a qualified mechanic. If, for instance, you want the car to be towed home and say that you will have it inspected soon, that will not be a strong indication that your brakes failed. Or, in case you say that you have a mechanic friend who will check out the brakes, that will also cast doubt on the claim that brake failure led to the accident.
Liability in Brake Failure Car Accidents
Motorists may fear that since they failed to hold brakes before the accident, they will undoubtedly be held liable for damages. However, sometimes a car may fail to stop even after the driver breaks for reasons apart from driver error. For instance, it could be because of a manufacturing defect or poor maintenance of the brakes. These factors have to be considered in the process of determining liability after an accident. Let us look at who can be held liable in an accident whereby the breaks of one or more cars failed.
The critical question asked in a brake failure vehicle accident is, why exactly did the brakes fail? If this question is answered, then the liable party will be evident. Brake failure in car accidents mostly occurs due to driver error; for instance, a motorist who isn’t being attentive while driving. Thus, they are mostly to blame for these accidents.
The only kind of brake failure that can ever help a motorist escape blame is a sudden, complete, unexpected, unforeseeable failure. Note that even a sudden, but partial brake failure may not be a defense if, for instance, the driver was following another car too closely or was not paying attention. In this case, the complainant would reason that a reasonable motorist would not have acted the way the driver did. The plaintiff would also argue that the actual reason for the crash was the motorist’s negligence (inattention), and not the brake failure.
In case a driver failed to apply the brakes because he/she was not attentive while driving, he/she is likely to be held fully or partially accountable for the injuries and damage that ensue. This is because any traffic violations that affect motorist safety are generally viewed as proof of negligence per se. Sometimes, investigators may even use evidence from the car’s black box to establish the speed of the vehicle at the time of the crash and whether or not the driver applied the brakes.
Another instance would be in case the brakes entirely or partially failed because of a lack of or poor maintenance or the failure to repair. This kind of failure can’t be a defense. California law requires that car owners keep brakes, tires, and other vehicle equipment in a functional condition. If it is established that the brakes failed because of poor or lack of maintenance, the driver will be considered to be negligent for failing to maintain the automobile in a safe condition. He/she will have to compensate for the resulting damages. If the cause of the failure is a lack of maintenance, it also implies the brake system had been gradually failing. A reasonably aware motorist should have or would have detected that his/her brakes weren’t working correctly.
The car manufacturer
A manufacturer could be held responsible for a car crash resulting from brake failure if it can be proven that they were negligent. California’s product liability laws provide that a product’s manufacturer will have to pay compensation for damages and loss caused by a defective product due to either manufacturing process or faulty design.
If the brakes are faulty, they may lead to mechanical failure. When this happens, the vehicle won’t stop even if the driver applies the brakes to prevent a crash. Instead, the car will send the motorist careening into property, persons, or other vehicles. You have to prove the defective design of the brake system before a judge for the negligence claim to stand.
Another driver can also be blamed
In most car accidents, the motorists involved will be found to be acting unsafely just before an accident occurs. For instance, one driver might have failed to apply brakes in time to prevent colliding with the other motorist that was running a red light. In this scenario, both drivers will share fault depending on the extent at which they are to blame.
Pursuing Compensation after a Break Failure Car Accident
Compensation for injuries sustained in a vehicle crash depends largely on who was at fault. That is the party that acted in an insecure manner or negligently. If the plaintiff can show that the negligent acts of the defendant caused the accident, the defendant will have the legal duty to compensate for damages for losses and injuries they caused.
The compensation amount you may claim is based on the degree of damage to your property or car. It also depends on how severe your injuries are, and the size and type of insurance policy you as well as the liable party has. When pursuing compensation, you should seek help from an expert personal injury attorney. The lawyer may help you to bring a successful lawsuit, which will enable you to be compensated for all your damages plus future costs.
Additionally, every car driver or owner in California has to adhere to the financial responsibility code. This means that they have to hold the minimally-accepted insurance coverage of their car. As per the California law (VC 16056), all motorists have to maintain at least 15/30/5 insurance coverage on all the registered autos. This means every driver has to carry at least $15000 per individual liability coverage for death or physical injuries, $30000 for death or bodily injury per accident, and at least $5000 liability coverage for property damage.
Types of Damages You Can Claim After a Brake Failure Car Accident
Now that you know it’s possible to recover damages for injuries caused by brake failure accidents, it’s also critical to understand the types of damages you can claim. Whether you sue the auto mechanic, manufacturer, or other motorists, you can claim damages to compensate for the losses you incurred due to the crash. Generally, accident victims start by bringing a claim to the insurance company of the at-fault party for the damages they’re seeking. In case the insurance provider declines to compensate, or the liable party’s insurance limits are low, the victim may choose to bring a lawsuit to court. As per the California law, victims of personal injury can claim two kinds of damages after a car crash. These damages include:
Another name for economic damages is special damages. They include the losses the victim incurs due to an accident, which can easily be quantified in monetary value. Examples of economic damages are:
- Medical bills (past, present, & future). Medical bills include specialist visits fees, emergency room expenses, medications to relieve pain, etc.
- Costs for property replacement or repair, for example, your car that was damaged in the course of the accident. Also, if your mobile phone was destroyed in the crash or your clothing destroyed, you can seek compensation.
- Lost wages, because of the time you spend healing from the injuries the accident caused. It includes the time you spent utterly from the office and the time you spent leaving the office for physical or rehabilitative therapy or any other appointment while you’re healing. You may also be compensated for future lost wages in case you had to leave your post indefinitely when recovering, missed your earning commission, or any other compensation due to the accident.
- Loss of future earning ability if the accident rendered you incapable of ever going back to work. These damages are paid from when the accident happened until your supposed date of retirement.
- Any rental car expenses you incurred in case you need a car while yours is in the garage, or while you arrange to buy a new one.
- Child care costs incurred if you require additional help with your child/children while healing from the crash.
While recovering, it’s critical to document every receipt and bill where you lost or spent money due to the accident. Doing this ensures that you get fully compensated for your losses and injuries. You could store the receipts digitally, or create a physical folder containing all the documents. Regardless of how small a receipt may be, it must be kept since the bills add up fast.
General damages include non-monetary, non-tangible, subjective losses. These kinds of damages compensate for the adverse effects that the accident left in a victim’s life, which cannot be repaired by money. They include compensation for:
- Pain & suffering. If you physically got hurt in the crash or your aches give you sleepless nights, you may recover damages meant to counterbalance this pain. Even though it will not eliminate the pain, it could help provide relief.
- Loss of enjoyment of life. If you’re incapable of enjoying your usual activities or hobbies after being in the accident, you can claim compensatio
- Psychological trauma. Vehicle accidents are specifically stressful occurrences and could result in PTSD, anxiety, or insomnia. Should you suffer from any of these health conditions, it may also be incorporated in your non-economic damages calculations.
- Other general damages include mental anguish, emotional distress, inconvenience, loss of consortium, etc.
In California, certain motorists may be barred from recovering general damages. According to California law, the drivers that don’t possess car insurance or those that do not meet California’s financial liability requirement won’t recover general damages if they sue for compensation. Additionally, those motorists that had previously been found guilty of driving under the influence under VC 23153 or 23152 are not qualified for general damages.
Non-economic and economic damages you receive vary depending on how severe the injuries you sustained from a brake failure accident are. Certain injuries are only minor and will heal faster when you undergo proper treatment. Other injuries might persist and affect the quality of your life for several years.
Find a Competent Car Accident Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Car accidents may cause you life-changing injuries, leading to emotional trauma and physical pain. Even though being financially compensated cannot get rid of the trauma and pain, it could help you cover financial expenses that the accident cost you. If you’re seeking to recover damages for incurred losses, you have to know what party you are suing, and why the accident happened. For this, you will need an experienced personal injury lawyer by your side. The attorney will help you to determine the cause of the accident, and if it is brake failure, what party to hold responsible since several parties may be involved. If you are in Los Angeles, talk to attorneys at The LA Personal Injury Law Firm at 310-935-0089. Our attorneys will help you through your personal injury case so that you can possibly get the highest compensation amount for your situation.