There are many causes of accidents on the roads in California. One of the significant causes of road accidents is mechanical failure. Although intoxicated driving, human error and negligent driving results in many accidents, failure in the braking system of cars can result in significant accidents. Every vehicle owner is expected to keep their vehicle well maintained mechanically and ensure them safe for driving. Brakes are one of the significant safety features in cars and must be checked regularly to ensure they function optimally. Whether you own a car, you are a car rental company or a commercial transport company; you must always check that the brakes are in excellent condition. There are many reasons that brakes can be faulty, leading to serious accidents. If you are involved in a car accident whose cause is brake failure, the law allows you to seek compensation for the damages suffered. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we can help you seek compensation when involved in an accident as a result of brake failure.
When Failure in Breaks Causes Car Accidents
Road safety is one of the major concerns in the state of California. Despite the law being strict in addition to consistent efforts aimed at reducing deadly road accidents, California continues to witness increased accidents that result in significant injuries and fatalities.
The state of California is highly populated, with many people owning cars. The highways are filled with fast-moving cars. The transport network is relatively busy in addition to road conditions as well as negligence of the drivers, making car crashes more prevalent.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a lot of road accidents are a result of driver errors. Some of the behaviors believed to contribute to accidents highly include over speeding, drunk or drugged driving, fatigued driving, and reckless driving. But, not all accidents are a result of driver error.
There are many causes of accidents on our roads that are not related to driver errors. Weather conditions, the state of the highways and mechanical problems like brake failures significantly contribute to road accidents. Of various mechanical failure accidents, the NHTSA states that brake failure results in most of them.
Without a doubt, brakes are a significant safety feature in all vehicles. When faced with an imminent danger while driving, brakes are the first defense a driver will go for. People hardly think of their brakes under ordinary circumstances, yet a lot of faith is put on them. Unfortunately, brakes are prone to failure or malfunction just like any other mechanical aspect of a car.
When brakes fail, a driver can lose control of their car, and lead to a crash with another vehicle. If there are pedestrians nearby or other stationery items, they will likely be hit by the out of control car. It is not likely for your vehicle to experience a complete failure of its brakes. However, even with partial failure; you still can cause a serious accident when your brakes fail.
Fortunately, it is not very difficult to detect an issue with your brakes. Your brakes may make strange noises such as squeaking or grinding sounds, they may feel spongy, or when you brake, your car drifts to a single side. These are all signs that all is not well with your brakes. You must always learn to listen to the signs warning you about them. Sometimes you may notice the brake pedal seeming stuck in a low position that is out of the ordinary or sluggishly hit the floor when pressed. This is another symptom of a malfunction with them that requires to be checked.
Another vital part of your braking system is the brake fluid. This is a part that is often ignored or overlooked. Most drivers get into the car to move from one point to the other without stopping to check on the safety of their vehicle. Car brakes are crucial for safety and must always be checked. Ignorance of this vital element of your car can lead to severe repercussions that can last a lifetime.
Brakes can fail due to a number of reasons. Faulty parts or brakes can be due to a manufacturer’s error just as much as they can be due to poor maintenance or negligence on the part of the driver. Whatever the cause of the failure, the most important thing to remember is that they can lead to serious accidents, and must be taken seriously.
Liability in Accidents from Brake Failure
When a car crash happens as a result of failed brakes, a driver may not be responsible for paying damages according to the law. However, this will only occur when the driver can prove that the accident was because of brake failure either due to manufacturer’s defect or poor maintenance.
Proving who is liable for an accident that was as a result of brake failure can be difficult. In most cases, liability depends on whether the person responsible for the maintenance or the owner kept the vehicle in good condition. This means a car owner may have a mechanic that is responsible for maintaining the car.
If the mechanic fixes the brakes in a wrong way or puts in faulty parts, the vehicle owner may not be aware of this. When an accident happens, and brakes are identified as the reason for the accident, the vehicle owner can produce records that they maintained their vehicle well and the mechanic that does it. Records usually show what was serviced in the car, what parts were changed and the next time the vehicle is due for service.
If a vehicle owner can prove they maintained their vehicle well according to the mechanic’s recommendation, it is possible to pass the liability to the mechanic. On the other hand, if the owner of the vehicle was negligent in maintaining their vehicle, and as a result, an accident occurs, they will take full responsibility for the damages. Sometimes the parts used in the braking system may be faulty, and the mechanic nor the driver may not be aware of it. A part can be defective from the manufacturer. If this can be proven, the liability of the damages can be shifted to the manufacturer of the part.
The law on personal injury in California follows the theory of comparative fault in determining who is at fault and their degree of responsibility following a car crash. The rule on pure comparative negligence in California also states even when you share fault in a crash; you are still entitled to compensation. This means that you can also seek payment for the damages and injuries you sustain from the other party at fault, even when you are partially to blame for the accident. The jury or judge, in this case, decides on the percentage negligence the victim contributed, and the expected compensation is calculated accordingly.
An accident due to faulty brakes can be complex with each party trying to avoid liability due to the crash. Facing this kind of a scenario, one needs the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer to fight for them and ensure they get their rightful compensation.
Pursuing Compensation Following a Car Accident
When an accident happens, monetary compensation majorly depends on the party at fault. This means, the person that was negligent in their duty either driving, maintenance of the car or roads and the manufacturer of vehicle parts. When a victim of an accident can establish the other party to the accident is responsible for the crash, the party is held legally liable for the damages. This means that they will be expected to compensate the other party for the injuries or damages they incurred as a result of the accident.
To prove the other party was responsible for the crash, you must gather crucial information or details from the scene of the accident. If you are able, take pictures of the scene from various angles, collect information from witnesses of the accident such as their addresses and names. Get the details of the other driver’s insurance provider and obtain a police report of the accident. If you find it challenging to get this report, your lawyer can ask for it on your behalf.
It is essential to get as many details as you can of the accident and its surroundings. These details go a long way in helping prove you are innocent and provide a compelling case for compensation. Insurance companies want to make profits just like any other business. This means that they will look for any opportunity to avoid compensating for the losses. This makes it essential to gather as much information as possible to prevent them from getting a loophole that can make you lose your compensation.
The value of compensation sought is dependent on the amount of the damage incurred, how significant the injuries are, and the size of insurance cover the other party and yourself have. Help from a personal injury attorney is vital to ensure you get the right compensation. Should the insurance company fail or decline to give you the due compensation owed, your lawyer can bring a lawsuit against them. Some injuries may require prolonged treatment and care. This makes it necessary to ensure one gets compensation for the costs associated with these injuries, even in the future.
Fortunately, the state of California requires every vehicle owner to have a minimum insurance cover. This is essential in ensuring that when an accident happens, the victims can be well compensated for the damages. According to VEH 16056, each driver must have a minimum cover of 15/30/5. This translates that when an accident occurs, a driver through their policy can compensate an injured victim with not less than $15,000. In the event of death, the minimum compensation would be $30,000, and for property damage would be $5,000.
Available Damages Following a Brake Failure Accident
Many people are aware that they can recover damages as a result of a car accident. However, it is important to understand the kind of compensation one can seek. According to California law, a victim of a road accident can seek both types of compensation. These are economic and non-economic damages. Below, we discuss each category in detail for your understanding.
Just like the name suggests, these are economic damages or monetary compensations a person hopes to receive due to financial damages suffered following an accident. These damages are usually quantifiable in monetary terms and may include the following:
- Medical costs – when a person gets injured in an accident, they will automatically seek medical attention or treatment. Some accidents can result in life-altering injuries that will require the victim to undergo medical treatment or need assisted living for the rest of their lives. A visit to a doctor or specialist would help estimate the cost of treatment for such injuries. Other injuries may be treatable easily or take a relative amount of time to treat. All of them will call for medical expenses that the party at fault is expected to compensate for. In cases where a victim may require prolonged treatment, the cost can be very high, and most insurance companies will fight against this. This makes it crucial to have an experienced attorney that will push for your rightful compensation.
- Damage to property – these in most cases is the cost of repairing your vehicle or other properties that can get damaged as a result of the accident. An assessment of the damage caused is done and the amount required for the repairs. Sometimes the damage can be so high that the vehicle has to be replaced. Again, your lawyer will help in ensuring you are well compensated for your property.
- Lost wages – as a person recovers from the injuries sustained, they may not be able to work. This means for the period they are out of work; they will not earn an income. A victim, in this case, is entitled to be compensated for the income they will lose during this period.
- Loss in future earnings – sometimes injuries can be very significant that a victim is unable to work again in the future. This will mean that they are unable to earn a living to support themselves and their loved ones. When this happens, an estimate is made of their future earnings, and compensation for the same is sought.
- Loss of a body part – an accident can result in the loss of a body part or its function. This can be particularly traumatizing to the victim. When this happens, compensation must be made. For instance, if a person loses a limb, they will be compensated the cost of losing it as well as getting an artificial one.
The compensation, in this case, is that where it is not easily quantifiable in monetary terms. These are injuries or damages that can affect the life of a victim adversely but cannot be repaired with money. These include:
- Suffering and pain – when a person suffers injuries, they will often go through significant distress and pain as a result. One cannot quantify the amount of pain or suffering a person would go through financially. However, it is damage that requires compensation. Some injuries can also cause discomfort to the victim all their lives. This damage, according to code 1431.2(b)(2) must be compensated following an accident.
- Emotional distress – an accident can result in considerable emotional or psychological distress. This may require a person to go for therapy for prolonged periods, especially when they suffered significant losses such as that of a body part. This is a damage that the law allows for its compensation.
- Lost companionship or consortium – when an accident results in a fatality, the surviving family can seek compensation for their loss. This means if the person was a spouse or a parent, the other spouse or children would have lost the love and care from that person. They will also suffer from the emotional loss of their loved ones as well as the guidance they received from the person. If the person was the breadwinner for the family, they also lose their source of livelihood. All these aspects constitute a lost consortium, which is allowed to be compensated.
- Inconvenience – an accident can result in many damages. For instance, a person can suffer a spinal trauma that can leave them paralyzed. This may mean the victim will rely on others for the things they used to do before. The inconvenience of using a wheelchair, for instance, when a person would walk or drive comfortably are some of the damages one can seek.
- Mental Trauma – This is similar to emotional suffering a victim of an accident can suffer from. Following an accident, some individuals may suffer mentally to a point they do not function well as they used to. For instance, a victim’s job may have been one that requires significant thinking or use of their brain. When this is affected, the victim may not continue to earn their living as they used to due to the mental trauma suffered.
However, some circumstances may disqualify a driver from recovering non-economic compensation. According to civil code 333.4, drivers without an insurance cover or not meeting the minimum financial responsibility according to the state cannot recover non-economic compensation. Similarly, drivers with prior convictions of DUI offenses according to VEH 23152 and VEH 23153 do not qualify for non-economic compensation.
The value of compensation will depend on how severe the injuries from the brake failure crash are. At times, injuries can be small and heal quicker while others can be more significant, requiring prolonged medical care. Some of the injuries a victim can suffer from may include broken bones or fractures, trauma to the head, back or brain, tissue injuries, contusions, strains, among many more.
Injuries can be realized immediately, while others may not be obvious. A victim of an accident is always advised to seek medical treatment first even when they don’t think they are injured.
Who to Sue Following a Brake Failure Accident
When one is involved in an accident as a result of brake failure, you can present a claim for your injuries and damages to the person responsible. When the party refuses to honor the claim, you can sue them for compensation if you are confident you can prove they are at fault.
The circumstances of the case, however, determine who is liable for the accident resulting from the failure of brakes. The statute of limitations in California provides for a deadline of 2 years for a victim to institute a suit for damages and injuries suffered. This period starts counting from the date the accident occurred. However, if the party at fault is the government, the period shortens to six months, after which you cannot lay a claim.
A lawsuit means that you must be able to show the other party was responsible for the accident. When one is not sure, it is always advisable to settle the claim out of court. This is where your skilled lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company for an out of court settlement. In most cases, a personal injury lawyer gets a better settlement when he or she engages directly with the insurer.
Other times, a victim of an accident may settle for what they are not entitled to. This is often due to a lack of knowledge or failing to engage a personal injury lawyer. It is important to note that the insurance representatives from either insurer are not obliged to get you the highest compensation. Instead, they aim to save money. Never engage your insurance company directly or sign any document they bring you without consulting your lawyer first. At the same time, never admit fault for the accident because you also do not know what the other driver was doing to contribute to the accident.
Aside from seeking compensation from the insurance companies, a lawsuit can be instituted against the manufacturer of a faulty part. If it can be established that the manufacturer of the brakes or the car is responsible for having defective parts or selling faulty brakes, one can sue them for compensation. The law expects the manufacturer to have carried every testing possible to ensure their brakes are great for safety. If it is possible to establish that the accident was due to faulty brakes from the manufacturer, you can, therefore, sue them for compensation.
Sometimes your mechanic or auto shop can be sued if you believe they did not maintain the car brakes as they should. If they were negligent in repairing the brakes or put them wrongly, this could fail the brakes. In such a case, they can also be sued for compensation.
Find a San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Accidents happen due to many reasons. The failure of brakes in your car or another vehicle can be a cause of an accident. Most accidents can result in substantial injuries and significant damage to property. Fortunately, the law allows for an accident victim to sue for compensation for the losses incurred. Although your pain or trauma may not be taken away by financial reward, compensation can go a long way in helping you deal with the situation. Finding a personal injury lawyer is essential if you desire repayment after the accident. At the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we can help you seek compensation due to you. Call our office at 619-478-4059, and let us comprehensively discuss your case.