Brake failures can cause significant injuries to drivers and passengers in vehicles. A brake failure renders a vehicle out of control causing damages to the automobile and others. Defects in brakes can turn what would have been a small accident into a severe accident because of the failure to work properly when it should. Manufactures of vehicles are required to adequately check the brake system for their vehicles to ensure that the brakes are functioning correctly and properly.
In order for injured vehicle owners and passengers to recover damages, they must proceed under a theory of strict liability. When a person is injured because of a brake failure caused by the manufacturer, the injured person may be entitled to compensation for damages to their person or property.
What Is Strict Liability?
The ability to prove strict liability requires several factors. These include:
- The brakes and their components had an unreasonably dangerous defect that injured you. The defect could have occurred in the manufacturing, design, or shipping of the component.
- The brakes and their components were being used in the ordinary course of their design and expected use.
- The brakes had not been substantially changed from their original condition.
In addition, many strict liability cases required the presence of expert witnesses. These witnesses will testify as to the extent of injury and the design failures of brakes.
Who Would Be Liable for the Brake Defect?
Typical claims for brake liability involve manufacturing defects. A defect in manufacturing occurs when the actual product deviates from its intended design, and that deviation is a defect. If the brakes of a car were defective and caused the accident, the plaintiff may be able to sue the manufacturer, as well as the dealer who sold the car to the plaintiff, for selling a defective car.
It is also possible that a brake failure could be a result of a mechanic's negligence if the brakes had been worked on by a mechanic. In order to hold the mechanic liable for the brake defect, the plaintiff must prove that the mechanic failed to exercise reasonable standard of care when working on the brake and left the brakes in a defective condition when he returned the car to the driver.
What Defenses Are Available to Manufacturers?
A brake manufacturer would be likely to present a defense of contributory negligence. Therefore, a manufacturer would attempt to show that an automobile owner was using the brakes for a long period without service. In addition, if the automobile was being used for purposes that were not in its original design it could prove damaging to a strict liability claim. For instance, if an automobile owner continually took their vehicle in mountainous terrain it might be viewed as unnecessarily wearing out the brakes.
What Damages Are Available?
Brake manufacturers would be responsible for compensatory and punitive damages. This means that manufacturers would be responsible for all past and future medical expenses resulting from the accident and other related damages. In addition, brake manufacturers may also be responsible for punitive damages that would punish them for failing to fix or recognize serious defects in brake designs.
Should I Hire an Attorney?
Products liability cases are extremely complex and require expert legal advice. A personal injury attorney would be helpful in building a strong case. In addition, proving compensatory and punitive damages requires skill and experience that lawyers typically have.