Brake failures account for a sizable number of car accidents every year, some of them involving collisions with other vehicles. If you or a loved one sustained an injury in an accident and it appears that faulty brakes were to blame, you may have legal recourse against one or more parties.
Brakes can fail for several reasons. The most common cause is a low brake fluid level due to a leak or other flaw in the hydraulic system. The second most common is worn out brake pads, shoes or drums. These problems and others can result from improper maintenance, incorrect installation or a product defect. Liability for harm in a rear-end collision caused by brake failure may be shared by the servicing mechanic, the vehicle’s or brakes’ manufacturer and the vehicle’s owner or operator.
The owner has a duty to ensure their vehicle is in a safe condition. This includes having regular brake inspections and being alert for signs of impending failure, such as when the brakes make screeching sounds, the vehicle needs a longer distance to stop or the brake pedal sinks to a lower position. If the owner neglects to have the vehicle’s brakes replaced or repaired despite these warnings and an accident happens, the owner may be liable.
If the brakes were repaired or replaced but failed nevertheless, an injured driver or passenger may have a claim against the servicing mechanic for doing shoddy work. Mechanics may be held responsible if they do not make the necessary repairs, if they make repairs improperly or if they use incorrect or poor-quality parts.
Under product liability law, if defective brakes caused the accident, an injured party can sue the vehicle’s or brakes’ manufacturer. To hold the manufacturer responsible, you must be able to prove that the product was being used as intended, that a defect made the product unreasonably dangerous and that the defect caused your injury. Additionally, a vehicle owner who is aware of a manufacturer’s recall of a vehicle part or component but neglects to have the recall issue addressed may be liable if an accident happens as a result.
New York law applies the rule of comparative negligence in accident cases, which means that a jury will decide the percentage of fault of each party involved and apportion damages accordingly. The driver of the vehicle whose brakes failed can share in the blame for the accident if he or she was speeding, following another car too closely or otherwise driving carelessly. As another driver involved, you may also be found partly negligent and may see your damages reduced.
Proving fault in an accident involving faulty brakes can be facilitated by the aide of an experienced attorney. The Licatesi Law Group, LLP has a long history of pursuing fair and adequate compensation for New York accident victims and their families. To arrange a free consultation, call us at 516-227-2662 or contact us online at our Uniondale or Brooklyn office.
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