The majority of accidents occur due to the carelessness of one or more of the drivers involved. In some cases, however, issues with a vehicle can contribute to the crash.
Modern cars, trucks, SUVs, and other vehicles rely on a number of mechanical components and computerized systems to operate safely. If one or more of these parts fail, multiple parties may be liable for the damages you suffer in an accident.
The auto accident lawyers at Colombo Law have extensive experience representing clients in claims involving complex issues of liability, including mechanical failure. Contact our law firm in Morgantown today for a free consultation.
Investigating Mechanical Failure
The first step of building an accident claim is thoroughly investigating the cause. Our lawyers may enlist one or more automotive experts to perform a forensic evaluation of your vehicle. If a faulty or defective part on another vehicle was a factor in the accident, our attorneys will move to preserve evidence in the possession of the defense through a letter of spoliation.
Experts who evaluate the vehicle or vehicles in the accident will assess the design, construction, and condition of parts to determine how and why a mechanical failure occurred. Testimony by expert witnesses, combined with evidence such as accident reconstruction, eyewitness accounts, and more, may support a claim against the party or parties at fault for the failure of the vehicle.
Who Is At Fault for Mechanical Failure That Results in an Accident?
Mechanical failure may be caused by poor maintenance, a defective part or component, and other factors. The driver of the vehicle may also be partially at fault if he or she failed to maintain reasonable control of the vehicle before it collided with you.
Due to the complexities involved in these types of vehicle accident claims, it is important to work with an experienced lawyer who can identify all liable parties and pursue fair compensation on your behalf. Potential at-fault parties in an accident case involving mechanical failure include:
The Owner of the Vehicle
From family sedans to 18-wheelers, owners are responsible for the condition and safe operation of their vehicles. This includes maintaining and repairing the vehicle so it does not present a danger to others on the road.
After an accident stemming from mechanical failure, it is important to determine (i) who owns the car and (ii) whether the failure was caused by poor maintenance. Identifying the owner of a private vehicle is generally not difficult (you can find it in the information you exchange with the other driver at the scene of the accident), but getting maintenance records can be more challenging (especially if the owner is negligent in service of the vehicle and/or keeping records).
In this case, expert assessment of the vehicle is crucial. One or more experts can evaluate the vehicle and testify as to its condition compared to a vehicle of the same make and model that is properly maintained.
The question of ownership can be more complicated in commercial vehicle accident claims. The driver of a commercial vehicle may be the owner, or the vehicle may be owned by a business that hires the driver (e.g., a trucking company, a delivery service, etc.). Further complicating matters is the shared obligation that often exists between owners and drivers to maintain commercial vehicles.
In truck accident claims and other cases involving commercial vehicles, our attorneys will evaluate driver logs, company maintenance records, and other evidence to determine if the vehicle was properly serviced both in between jobs and during the course of operation. Specialized investigation of the commercial vehicle may also reveal evidence of negligent maintenance.
Mechanics and Service Centers
Sometimes the owner of a vehicle may be unaware of the issue that resulted in mechanical failure and ultimately caused the accident. In such a case, it is important to review the service records for the vehicle and compare them to the condition of the vehicle itself.
If a mechanic, repair shop, car dealership, or other party performed substandard repairs or failed to provide necessary service, you may be able to recover compensation from the negligent individual or business. Expert testimony will be necessary to establish how negligence on the part of the mechanic or service center resulted in the failure of the vehicle.
A Vehicle or Parts Manufacturer
Tens of millions of vehicles are recalled every year for a wide range of defects. In some cases, these defects can result in mechanical failures and other issues that increase the risk of serious accidents. Sadly, sometimes the recall notices begin only after multiple drivers and their passengers are injured or killed as a result of the defect.
When mechanical failure occurs due to a vehicle defect, multiple parties involved in the production and distribution of the vehicle may be liable. These parties include:
- The manufacturer of the vehicle
- Companies involved in building and assembling component parts
- The company that shipped or transported defective vehicles
- The dealership that sold the defective vehicle
All parties in the chain of commerce that brought the vehicle to market and put it on the road are ultimately liable for accidents stemming from the defect. However, identifying all of these parties can be difficult. For this reason, it is important to speak with an experienced accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Start Building Your Mechanical Failure Accident Claim Today
Accident claims centering on a faulty or defective vehicle involve a number of challenges not present in most car accident claims. If mechanical failure was an issue, you need an attorney with the knowledge, experience, and resources to investigate your case fully and take action against all of the at-fault parties.
For more than 20 years, Colombo Law has been representing clients in a wide range of accident claims. Our attorneys have obtained millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients who were injured or lost loved ones as a result of driver negligence, mechanical failures, and other issues involving motor vehicles.
Please call (304) 599-4229 today for a free consultation. Our auto accident attorneys serve clients in Morgantown and throughout West Virginia.