Mechanical Failure Accidents

Sometimes car, truck and motorcycle accidents are caused by mechanical failures of a vehicle. When this type of accident happens, liability may not rest with the owner or operator of the vehicle and a complete and thorough investigation into causation is necessary.

If a motor vehicle owner gives his or her vehicle the proper maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer and the vehicle nonetheless fails to perform as expected and causes an accident, the manufacturer of that vehicle may be liable for the damages and injuries caused in the accident. For example, if the owner of a car checks and replaces the brakes; checks and rotates the tires; changes the oil and performs all other required maintenance as directed by the manufacturer and the vehicle has a failure to one of these systems, it can be safely assumed that the owner took reasonable care of his or her vehicle to avoid an accident that happened due to mechanical failure.

When a vehicle fails to perform as expected and ends up causing an accident, the case may turn from a car accident case into a products liability case or a case of faulty repairs. A motor vehicle is comprised of hundreds of different mechanical components and any one of them can potentially cause an accident if it is not maintained to specifications.

Potentially Liable Parties

Typically, when a car malfunctions and causes an accident, the party most directly responsible for the damages such accident caused is the manufacturer of the vehicle. For example, in recent years Toyota had to face liability for accidents caused by a “sudden acceleration” of their vehicles caused by the cars’ floor mats.

However, sometimes liability lies not with the manufacturer of the car, but with the manufacturer of some part used in the vehicle. For example, a tire may have blown up and caused the vehicle to rollover. In recent years, Firestone and Ford had to face liability for some very deadly SUV rollovers throughout the nation. See our Notable Cases section to learn more about these and other cases handled by our firm throughout the years.

On other occasions, responsibility lies with an automobile repair shop that failed to notice some vital mechanical issue that ended up causing an accident down the road. For example, your auto repairman may have overlooked the need to replace very badly worn brake pads that later failed to stop your vehicle, making it go into an intersection and crash into another car.

Although not usually liable, if a car dealership concealed a mechanical defect in order to sell a car at a higher price and that vehicle ends up malfunctioning and crashing, the dealership may be liable for damages.

Finally, sometimes the seller of a part may be liable if such part ended up failing to perform as expected and causing an accident.

Typical Mechanical Failures

Almost any mechanical part can fail in a car and cause an accident. However the following are the most common parts to fail:

Tire blowout: A tire that blows up while the vehicle is travelling at speed is a common cause for a typically deadly rollover accident. In these instances the tire manufacturer is usually liable. Re-treads also make up a huge number of tire injury claims, as these tires, when not re-tread properly, often sustain catastrophic failure and cause serious injury or death. Please go to our Notable Cases section to find out about tire blowout cases handled by our law firm in the past.

Brake failure: The owner of a vehicle is responsible to check (or to have a qualified mechanic check) whether the brake pads in his or her car are worn and need to be replaced and assure that the brake fluid is filled and works properly. Air brakes, which are standard on many large trucks, must also be maintained in order to function properly. However, sometimes these pads fail without being worn either because they crack, or the asbestos part comes unglued from the metal part that holds the brake pad in place. When this happens, the manufacturer of the brake pads is usually the liable party. However, sometimes brakes fail because they were poorly installed or maintained. In these cases, the mechanic or the auto repair shop where the brake job was done may be liable.

Failing Steering: Although unusual, steering mechanisms have been known to fail, causing the operator of a vehicle to lose control and crash. Responsibility in these cases often lies with the car manufacturer.

Failing Head and Tail Lights: When a tail light fails, the vehicle may get rear-ended because other drivers can’t see it. Similarly, when a headlight fails the vehicle’s operator may not see another car or an object on the road (for example, a light post) and crash into it. This is another example of car manufacturer or repairman’s liability.

Failing Windshield Wipers: Windshield wipers are the only thing standing between a driver and his or her safe arrival at destination during a heavy down pour. If they fail, the driver will not be able to see beyond a few feet and may end up crashing his vehicle.

We Can Help

If any of the preceding examples sound like the type of accident you in which you were involved, you need an experienced lawyer help you sort out who is the responsible party and help you get the compensation you may be entitled to. The lawyers of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano have more than 100 years of combined experience helping victims of all types of car accidents, including those injured in accidents caused by mechanical failures. Contact us today to set up a free initial consultation. We handle all personal injury matters on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not have to pay us anything unless we recover a compensation for you.