Who’s Responsible for Accidents Caused by Mechanical Failure?
As a driver, losing control of your vehicle unexpectedly can be both terrifying and extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, even with today’s modern vehicles, mechanical failures are not uncommon. These failures can happen anywhere and anytime—and, when they do, the consequences can be devastating.
If you have been seriously injured in a car, truck or SUV accident caused by a mechanical failure, you will need to hire a lawyer to determine who is responsible. There are multiple possibilities; and, to file a successful claim, you need to file your claim against the right company. Just like any car accident, determining who is responsible for an accident caused by mechanical failure requires a prompt and thorough investigation, and it will be necessary to thoroughly examine all of the evidence to determine which company is to blame.
Companies That May Be Responsible for an Accident Caused By Mechanical Failure
You were injured in an accident caused by mechanical failure—who should you sue? Depending on the circumstances involved, you may have a claim against:
1. Your Vehicle’s Manufacturer
Vehicle manufacturers can be held liable for mechanical failures in many cases. Manufacturers have a legal obligation to sell cars, trucks and SUVs that are safe for the road; and, when they fail to do so, they can—and should—be held accountable. Potential claims against vehicle manufacturers following accidents caused by mechanical failures include:
- Vehicle Defect Claims – Many mechanical failures result from vehicle defects. A vehicle is defective if it is unsafe when it leaves the factory. This could be due to a design flaw or an issue during the manufacturing process. Vehicle manufacturers are strictly liable for vehicle defects under Florida law.
- Warranty Claims – Even if your vehicle wasn’t defective, you could have a warranty claim against the manufacturer. Automotive manufacturers provide both express (written) and implied (unwritten) warranties with their vehicles. Warranty claims can take several forms, including claims for financial compensation after serious accidents.
- Negligence Claims – Vehicle manufacturers can also be held liable for negligence in the absence of a vehicle defect or warranty claim. When manufacturers negligently sell cars, trucks and SUVs that are prone to mechanical failures, they deserve to be held fully accountable for the costs victims and their families incur.
Automotive companies regularly issue recalls for defective cars, trucks and SUVs. But, just because your vehicle hasn’t been recalled, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe. Not all mechanical issues lead to recalls; and, in many cases, recalls only come after accidents get reported.
2. A Component Manufacturer
Automotive manufacturers regularly use components made by other companies. In a typical car, truck or SUV, everything from the vehicle’s airbag to its tires and brake pads may come from a third-party supplier. If the component that failed in your vehicle was manufactured by one of these companies, then you may have a claim against the component manufacturer, in addition to having a claim against the company that manufactured and sold your vehicle. Alternatively, if you have any aftermarket parts installed on your vehicle, then the aftermarket manufacturer may be liable if one of these parts failed resulting in a collision.
3. A Maintenance or Repair Shop
While some mechanical issues exist from the time a car, truck or SUV leaves the factory, others result from negligent service and repairs. If your vehicle was safe until a maintenance or repair shop made a mistake, then the shop could be fully liable for your accident-related losses. Some examples of faulty service work that can lead to mechanical failures on the road include:
- Faulty brake jobs
- Faulty engine or transmission service
- Improper wheel or tire installation
- Improper repairs of accident damage
- Improper installation of aftermarket parts
Typically, filing a successful claim against a maintenance or repair shop requires proof of negligence. If it appears that a mechanical failure may have played a role in your accident, your attorney should be able to determine whether the failure was due to a defect or faulty service work. If faulty service work was to blame, your attorney can then use your vehicle’s service history and other evidence to determine if you have a negligence-based claim for just compensation.
4. The Dealership that Sold or Serviced Your Vehicle
Along with the companies mentioned above, dealerships can also be held liable for mechanical failures in many cases. For example, you may have a claim against your dealership if:
- You Purchased a Defective Vehicle from the Dealership – When a vehicle defect leads to an accident, all companies in the vehicle’s “chain of distribution” can be held liable under Florida law. This includes the dealership that sells the vehicle off of the showroom floor.
- The Dealership Provided a Warranty – Similar to vehicle manufacturers, dealerships often provide warranties as well. If your vehicle came with a dealer’s warranty (or if you paid extra for a dealer’s warranty), you may be able to assert your warranty rights and recover just compensation.
- The Dealership’s Service Department or Collision Center Performed Negligent Work – If you take your car, truck or SUV to a dealership for service instead of an independent maintenance or repair shop, the same rules discussed above still apply. Any negligence on the part of the dealership’s technicians or repair specialists may warrant a claim for full liability.
What If I was Injured in an Accident Involving Another Vehicle’s Mechanical Failure?
So far, we’ve assumed that it was your vehicle that suffered a mechanical failure. But, what if you were injured in an accident that occurred when someone else’s vehicle suffered a mechanical failure? Even in this scenario, you may still have one or more of the claims discussed above. As an accident victim, you deserve just compensation, and this is true regardless of whose vehicle caused the crash.
Discuss Your Legal Rights with an Attorney at Searcy Denney in Florida
If you need to know more about filing a claim for an accident caused by a mechanical failure, we invite you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Searcy Denney. To speak with an attorney at one of our Florida law offices as soon as possible, please call 800-780-8607 or contact us online now.