The majority of road accidents and traffic collisions have an identifiable cause, a piece of evidence that clearly shows who’s to blame. Regardless of why or how the accident occurred, there’s usually an obvious chain of events or instigators.
Yet, what happens if the driver who caused the crash was hampered by someone else’s mistake? Specifically, what if the road accident was triggered by a faulty car part, or a bad repair job by a mechanic?
It’s an important question, because it’s more common than you think. Without proper legal advice, there’s a risk of innocent drivers being penalized for actions they may have had no control over.
For instance, if you’re driving a new car and the brakes seize, is it fair to hold you liable for the ensuing crash? You may have caused it, but you also had no way to prevent it.
Understanding The Complexities Of Legal Liability
The law does protect drivers from liability if a road accident was caused by a factor they couldn’t control or influence. The tricky part is proving why this is the case and, afterwards, getting the real culprit to accept responsibility.
From a legal perspective, car manufacturers and people who repair or modify cars are responsible for the quality of their work, and any accidents that may occur as a result.
On the other hand, car owners are responsible for maintaining the safety of their vehicle by keeping it in good condition. The longer the car is owned and used, the greater the responsibility for the driver. It’s why some of the trickiest cases involve auto part recalls that occurred months, or years after the vehicle was sold.
What To Do If A Faulty Car Part Caused Your Accident
If you know, or strongly suspect that your road accident was caused by a faulty car part, try to find evidence. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration operates a live database of recalls and product defects. You can look there to see if your vehicle’s manufacturer discovered any problems with its build that might cause an accident.
If an attorney can prove the influence of faulty parts or poor workmanship, and there was no timely attempt to warn the car’s owners of any dangers, that should be an easy case to make. You’re entitled to compensation for all medical bills ensuing from the accident. You should also receive reimbursement for lost wages, due to time off from work, and money to replace or repair your faulty vehicle.
The important thing for your attorney is to prove liability, preferably full and strict. This would mean that there was no evidence that you could have prevented the accident. The faulty car part rendered you unable to drive safely.
If an attorney can prove this, the case is all but won. The vehicle manufacturer cannot argue over your part in the road accident if there’s clear proof that they had failed to deliver on their responsibilities.
Although, it should be noted that you also have a responsibility to maintain the vehicle. Keep documents on all checks, repairs, modifications and services that you’ve had done. That way, it’ll be easy to prove that you kept the vehicle in good health, and could not have prevented the accident.
A judge will want to see evidence of your response to a recurring fault. If you attempted to have the fault repaired and it reoccurred, your liability is reduced further.
Advice On Building A Strong Liability Case
To strengthen your case, keep as much evidence from the accident as possible. Pictures are a compelling tool, which is why motorists are advised to take pictures of the scene, and any damage to their vehicle after a collision. Ask a friend or family member to take clear photos of all related injuries.
If possible, avoid getting the offending vehicle repaired, or modified in any way afterwards. Ideally, store it somewhere secure in the exact condition it was in following the accident. If there is a defective part, keeping the vehicle will make it easier to locate it and demonstrate its influence.
Your attorney will likely ask, in detail, about what happened to the car immediately after the accident. These questions can include how it was moved from the scene, who moved it, where it was subsequently stored, and what has happened to it since.