Proving A Car Accident Is Due To Mechanical Failure
Driver negligence is by far the most common cause of motor vehicle accidents, but mechanical failure is often a contributing factor. The National Highway Traffic Association found that tire failure or degradation was the most common mechanical failure, assigned in 43 percent of the crashes studied. Other common mechanical failures included brake failure (25%), electrical system failure (21%), and steering/transmission/engine failure (10.5%). Every year, we see a number of vehicle recalls related to known mechanical issues. In 2016, millions of vehicles were recalled due to defective airbag inflators, steering columns, fuel filler necks, shifters, and door latches. Yet, even in these cases, a lawsuit is no slam-dunk. A skillful lawyer is needed to clarify the indisputable cause-and-effect relationship.
Legal arguments in mechanical failure cases
Once we establish that the vehicle played a part in the crash, we examine whether it was the manufacturing process, vehicle design, or recent maintenance that led to the mechanical failure. A third party is prosecuted under the assumption that a manufacturer, supplier, or maintenance provider owes a standard of care to the consumer where, when operated under normal conditions, the vehicle should be safe to use. Lawyers may argue that the defendant is “strictly liable” simply because the accident occurred, or they may argue that the defendant’s “negligence” caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
Generally, we trace mechanical failure back to:
- Defective Manufacturing: This type of product liability may pertain to faulty testing procedures, known errors in the manufacturing plant, poor shipping practices, or dealership storage issues – anything prior to the consumer’s acquisition of the vehicle.
- Dangerous Design: This type of product liability means that the vehicle was manufactured properly, but they should have never been on the market because the poor design presents a safety hazard to consumers. Experts may testify about safer alternative designs that were available to the manufacturer at the time.
- Faulty Maintenance: Auto repair shops are responsible for the proper inspection and installation of new parts. Mechanics must notify motorists of any known issues that may impact the safety of their vehicles. Experts are often called in to argue how the mechanic was negligent or careless in working on the vehicle and to make a case for proper industry standards and “reasonable care”.
Who is responsible for a vehicle’s mechanical failure?
Once the type of vehicle product liability is established, we will determine which entities are liable, including:
- Vehicle Manufacturer – Responsible for providing a safe product for consumers to use
- Parts Manufacturer – Responsible for designing and providing safe parts to manufacturers
- Shipping Company – Responsible for the safe transit of vehicles from manufacturer to dealer
- Dealership – Responsible for accurate inspection and representation of the vehicle’s condition prior to sale
According to the laws of the state of California, even if you were partially responsible for the crash, you are still entitled to sue for damages and hold third parties liable.
Compiling supporting evidence
A legal argument is not enough to win a case. Compiling exhibits and supporting evidence is crucial to winning a mechanical failure claim. Some of the evidence we’ll need to collect during our investigation and discovery is:
- Police Reports and Collision Shop Records – We need to establish that a crash occurred involving your vehicle.
- Medical Records – We need to show that you suffered substantial physical injury immediately after the crash.
- Medical Bills and Hospital Receipts – We must show that you suffered financial losses due to the accident.
- Wage Records – If you were working at the time and had to take off work to recover, we’ll indicate that, too.
- Vehicle Defect – We may rely on photographic evidence, collection of internal memos, or expert testimony.
- Proper Use of Vehicle – Eyewitness accounts, police records, and expert testimony proves you were not misusing the vehicle at the time of the injury.
Contact LA car accident attorneys
Determining fault and liability in a mechanical failure lawsuit can be extremely difficult, so it is important you hire a car accident lawyer with experience in constructing this type of argument. Ellis Injury Law Firm has been winning serious auto accident cases for more than two decades with payouts for our clients that have been well into the millions of dollars. If you have been injured in an accident and believe it was through little or no fault of your own, contact us for a free investigation into your claim. All legal services rendered are free of charge until we win money on your behalf.
Additional “car crash due to mechanical failure” resources
- NHTSA – Crash Data, https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811059
- AutoWeek – Top 5 Recall Stories of 2016, http://autoweek.com/article/recalls/heres-your-top-5-recall-stories-2016
- Justia – Mechanical Malfunctions, https://www.justia.com/injury/motor-vehicle-accidents/car-accidents/mechanical-malfunctions/