Car Accident Caused By Failed Brakes - Whose Responsible?

Taking care of a vehicle is the responsibility of the vehicle's owner. Not only does proper care help maintain the vehicle's value, but it also ensures it is safe on the road. But what happens when the vehicle's owner claims their failing brakes caused your accident? Who is responsible for your accident and subsequent injuries? Hiring an accident lawyer as quickly as possible is crucial because the answer is not as straightforward as you think.

Where Does Liability Lie?

When the vehicle's owner claims failed brakes caused their accident, they may attempt to shift blame from themselves, but they may also be telling the truth. Other parties may be liable or share the liability for the accident. Potential parties to the accident include the following:

  • Owner of the vehicle, if negligent in maintaining maintenance on the vehicle
  • Manufacturer of brake parts if defective parts caused the accident
  • Manufacturer of the car if defective brakes caused the accident
  • Mechanic if faulty brake replacement caused the accident

Because of the numerous involved parties, the court decides these types of cases on a case-by-case basis. 

Will The Sudden Emergency Doctrine Apply?

One of the defenses that the vehicle driver may attempt to use may be the Sudden Emergency Doctrine. Under this principle, they will not be held liable for the accident if they can prove that the accident arose out of the sudden emergency of their brakes failing. 

To invoke this doctrine, the other driver must provide evidence to support their claim. For example, they may submit the following to the court.

  • Maintenance records 
  • Inspection records
  • Defective parts
  • Expert witness testimony

If they can show an actual brake failure, the liability may shift to one of the other listed parties. The court may also rule that the driver still shares in the responsibility. 

For example, The driver of the vehicle testifies that they had taken their vehicle to the mechanic days before the accident because they thought their brakes were slipping. When the mechanic did not find anything wrong with the vehicle, the driver continued to drive it until the brakes failed. In this case, the court may hold the driver and the mechanic liable for the accident.

But the responsibility could go even further than that. The manufacturer could also share the blame if a faulty brake part is discovered. If the defective part is found on most makes and models of this particular vehicle, the vehicle's manufacturer could also share in the responsibility.

As previously stated, faulty equipment-related accidents can quickly become complicated and complex. For assistance with your case, hire a car accident lawyer in your area.