If you suffer injuries in an accident due to defective brakes, Florida law allows you to file a personal injury claim. You may submit a claim against several parties. Possible defendants may include the vehicle repair company or the person responsible for maintaining the vehicle. You may also file a claim against the brake vehicle manufacturer or the car company. Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney can help you identify the party responsible for your injuries and help you file a successful personal injury claim.
Overview of Brake Failure Under Florida Law
There are several reasons as to why a vehicle's brakes may fail. For instance, brakes may fail due to manufacturer's negligence or manufacturer defects. Brakes may also fail due to poor maintenance of the vehicle by the retailer selling the car. Brakes may also fail due to the negligence of the individual responsible for repairing the vehicle. You can file a lawsuit against each of the named parties under Florida law. In most cases, brake failures occur due to poor maintenance of the vehicle.
To get compensation in a defective breaks lawsuit, you have to file a lawsuit against the right defendant. You may not successfully get compensated if you file a claim against the car dealership while the manufacturer is responsible for the brakes defects. Identifying the right defendant is an essential step to seeking personal injury compensation. You have to ensure that correct issues are present in the courtroom. The problems may include defective parts, breach of warranty, or strict liability.
You have to file a personal injury lawsuit for defective brakes under Florida law that defines faulty products and personal injury claims. You have to prove in court that there was no latent defect. It must be evident that the car manufacturer or seller was aware of the vehicle defect and could fix the fault before other individuals suffered injuries due to the defects. It must also be evident that the defective breaks would cause harm to any person using the breaks under normal circumstances without requiring any extraordinary conditions. It must also be apparent that the defendant was in a position to discover the defect in the braking system without having to take apart the entire braking system to repair the fault.
When is a Car Dealership Liable?
You may buy a car from a dealer, and you leave without any defects. However, the vehicle may still have some existing errors in the braking system or any other areas, only that you are not aware of. If the car causes an accident before or after you get home, you may sue the car dealership. You may sue the dealership for negligence, defective parts, and strict liability. You may pursue a valid personal injury claim if it is evident the car dealer was aware that the car had faulty brakes. Despite knowing this, the dealer proceeded to sell it to you. However, for the dealer to be liable, it must be evident that he was aware of the braking system defects of the vehicle at the time of selling.
Liability of the Manufacturer
At times, a manufacturer may require making some amendments in a vehicle before putting up the car for sale. If the manufacturer puts up a car for sale without fixing some damaged areas, the manufacturer may be liable under Florida law if the vehicle later causes an accident. In the case of a second-hand car, the manufacturer may not face charges if it is evident that the previous vehicle owner did not maintain the car. However, if the previous vehicle owner serviced the vehicle thoroughly and took it for repairs whenever necessary, the manufacturer may face charges.
When is a Driver Not Liable?
In an instance where a vehicle accident occurs due to brake failure, a driver may deny responsibility. The driver may assert there is nothing he/she would have done because he/she had no control over the breaks. The driver may argue he/she did not have prior knowledge that the brakes would fail and was not able to prevent brake failure. While making this argument, the driver will have an uphill task of proving his/her innocence. Florida law requires all drivers to keep their vehicles in good working condition. This duty assigned to the driver by the law may hold the driver at fault even if the vehicle mechanic negligently failed to notice a break issue. The driver might be liable if he/she did not check his vehicle to ensure it is working well.
In some instances, however, the driver may not be at fault even if he/she faces an accident due to brake failure, and other people suffer injuries. When can a driver successfully argue that he/she did not have anything to do with brake failure and that he/she would not have prevented it? To be free of charge, a driver must be aware of the primary cause of brake failure. The driver must also assert that there was no prior sign of brake failure, which would have alerted him/her of the brake failure. It must be evident that the driver was not aware of any other vehicle defect that may have eventually contributed to brake failure.
It must be evident that the vehicle had undergone the necessary maintenance. For instance, if the driver had taken the car for inspection before the accident, he may not be liable for the accident. The cause of the brake failure may have arisen after the vehicle inspection. In this case, the driver may not have had a way of knowing that his/her vehicle was defective. The driver might not face charges if the brake defect was in such a manner that it was not discoverable. Discovery is through reasonable inspection carried out within a reasonable period before the vehicle accident.
The driver has to prove that he/she did not violate the duty of keeping the vehicle in good working condition. If the driver fails to show one of the arguments mentioned, he/she may face negligence charges. If liable, the driver would be responsible for reimbursing the victims of the accident any loss they may have suffered due to the crash.
Why is Brake Failure Hard to Prove in Court?
Proving brake failure as the sole source of an accident is stressful. It is because a car has two braking systems, and if one system fails, the other system can help prevent an accident from occurring. Most vehicles will maintain some control of the brakes even when the primary braking system fails. Brake failures that lead to fatal accidents are mainly associated with more massive motor machines like trains, boats, and trucks.
It is hard to prove a braking accident because most parties are not ready to accept liability. The possible defendants in a braking accident case are not prepared to admit they made a mistake or acted negligently. A driver may be aware that his/her brakes were faulty but fail to act. After the accident, the driver may then claim that he/she was not aware of the defect in the braking system.
It is also hard to determine the leading causes of braking failure. Overheating of the brakes may cause an accident because of damage to the rotors or brake pads. If the hydraulic lines are not well attached, they may also lead to brake failure. However, it is essential to note that with technological advancement, there are few chances of brake failure. It is hard for modern brake systems to fail with the same frequency as the old braking systems. Modern vehicles also utilize anti-lock braking systems. Anti-lock brakes are capable of keeping the wheels and tires from locking up in case the brakes fail.
Brake failure accidents are hard to prove because it is difficult to know how well the driver was maintaining the vehicle before the crash. The driver must properly maintain the car. For instance, if a driver notices grinding or squeaking noises, he/she has to have the vehicle checked. Maintenance of the braking system entails a wide range of activities, including tending to the brake fluid. Most braking fluids contain a substance called glycol. If a driver fails to replace the brake fluid regularly, moisture may build up and cause the braking system to be less effective. Vehicle owner manuals do not always outline the importance of changing the brake fluid. Many drivers may, therefore, deny responsibility in case of an accident and assert that they were not aware it was their duty to change the brake fluid.
If you suffer injuries in an accident resulting from brake failure, you may have a hard time trying to prove who is responsible. Does the fault lie with the manufacturer or the driver? Most of the evidence considered in court will depend on the outside circumstances surrounding the case. The circumstances may include evidence collected at the accident scene and reports from the people who witnessed the accident.
In the case of brake failure, it is necessary to keep all the records and details of what happened. For instance, you may take some pictures to act as evidence, and you may also maintain the police records. It is also essential to keep all your medical records and receipts intact after undergoing treatment. The medical records will help to prove the medical costs incurred to seek compensation.
Rear-End Collision Due to Brake Failure
In most cases, rear-end collisions happen due to the fault of the tailing driver. The tailing driver may claim that the accident occurred due to brake failure. For the tailing driver to prove that it was not his negligence but brake failure that caused the crash, he/she will have to prove several factors.
First, the tailing driver has to claim brake failure immediately. An immediate claim is the only way that the driver may be able to prove that the accident was due to brake failure. After smashing the vehicle in front, the tailing driver may immediately get out of his/her car and state that the accident was due to brake failure. However, if the tailing driver stays for several days or weeks and then states that the accident happened due to brake failure, it would probably be a lie. The tailing driver may only be using the brake failure excuse to avoid being responsible for injuries suffered by the victims.
The tailing driver may prove that it was a brake failure that caused the rear-end collision if he/she does not drive the vehicle from the scene. It would not be practical to drive a car with faulty brakes from an accident scene. If it is indeed a case of failing breaks and the tailing driver denies liability, the vehicle should be towed to the garage after the accident.
To prove that he/she is not at fault and is not liable for the victims' injuries, the tailing driver should have his/her vehicle assessed by a neutral mechanic. The mechanic should check the vehicle immediately after the accident to determine the condition of the brakes at the time of the collision. If the driver takes several days before having a mechanic check his/her vehicle, it may be hard to prove the conditions of the brakes at the time of the accident. It would be ideal to have the car towed from the scene of the accident directly to the mechanic to prove that brake failure indeed caused the accident.
For a driver to assert that an accident resulted from brake failure, the reason for the break failure must be apparent. Being apparent means that after a mechanic examines the vehicle, it will be easy to identify the cause of brake failure. If the mechanic is not able to identify the cause of brake failure, no one, including the victims, the manufacturer, and the court may believe that the accident occurred due to brake failure.
If it is evident that the tailing driver caused the accident due to brake failure, will he/she walk free? Whether the driver walks free or not will depend on the reason why the brakes failed. The driver may only be able to escape liability if the brake’s failure was utterly unexpected and unforeseeable. The driver may be at fault for sudden but partial brake failure. For instance, the driver may be faulty even in the case of unexpected brake failure if it is evident that the driver was following the vehicle in front too closely or if the driver was not paying adequate attention.
Common Injuries in Brake Failure Accidents
The injuries that victims suffer in case of a brake failure accident are similar to the injuries victims suffer in case of a speeding accident. The driver can't mitigate the collision with lower speeds if the brakes fail, and he/she cannot be able to control the vehicle.
The common injuries that victims are likely to suffer in case of brake failure accidents include broken bones. Victims may also suffer injuries on the back and the neck. Head injuries, concussions, and traumatic brain injuries are also common injuries in case of a brake failure accident.
What Should You Do After Suffering Injuries?
Immediately after suffering injuries in a brake failure accident, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. You may not feel as if you have sustained injuries shortly after the crash due to the rush of adrenaline in your body. It is only several hours after the accident that you may start to experience symptoms of the injuries. Therefore, even if you feel fine after a crash, you should seek immediate treatment. Also, if you are suffering minor injuries like headaches, it may be a sign of significant underlying injuries like a traumatic brain injury.
Compensation for Injuries
If you suffer injuries in a brake failure accident and you are not at fault, what reward will you receive for the damages? If you suffer injuries in a crash due to brake failure, you may seek compensation from the driver, the manufacturer, or an auto mechanic. You may file a claim with the defendant's insurance company. If the insurance company refuses to pay or if the defendant has low insurance limits, you may file a lawsuit in court. The court will help you to reclaim your outstanding compensation. You may seek compensation for general damages or economic damages:
- Economic Damages
Economic damages are also known as special damages. Under special damages, you will receive compensation for:
Medical costs refer to the expenses you incur to seek medical treatment for the injuries suffered in a brake failure accident. You can present hospital records and receipts as proof of the expenses you incurred. The records will help to outline the treatment procedures you underwent. The medical receipts will indicate the exact medical costs incurred while seeking treatment for the injuries. When calculating medical expenses, it is advisable to consider present and future medical expenses. For instance, if you suffer broken bones, you may need many months of physical therapy long after the settlement of the personal injury claim. You should, therefore, include future medical costs in the lawsuit. Medical fees may also include emergency room fees and specialist visits. You should also include pain management medications that you may use over time in the medical cost claim.
Compensation for Property Damage
You may also seek compensation for damage to personal property during the accident. Items that are likely to get damaged in a crash include your vehicle and electronics, including laptops, tablets, and phones. You may also seek compensation for items of clothing and jewelry destroyed during the accident.
If you suffer injuries in the accident and you are not able to go to work or participate in income-generating activities, you may seek compensation in court. Lost wages include income lost from the time the accident happened to the time of settling the claim in court. You will receive compensation for the time you spend away from work. You will also receive compensation for short out-of-work sessions that you spend out of work to seek medical treatment or therapy.
Loss of Earning Capacity
You may not have the capability to continue earning the income you were earning before the crash due to the injuries suffered in the accident. Even if you resume work, you may not be as productive as before, and you may not make as much money as before. Depending on the nature of injuries suffered, you may not even be able to resume work after the accident. While calculating the loss of earning capacity compensation, the court considers the income you used to make before the crash and the income you may be able to receive after the accident. The court then less income you may earn after the accident from the income you use to receive before the crash. The difference is compensation due.
- Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are also known as general damages and refer to damages that are not easy to quantify in monetary terms. General damages for which you may receive compensation include:
Loss of Enjoyment
You may no longer be able to do the things you loved doing before the accident. After suffering injuries, you may no longer be able to participate in your favorite hobbies. For example, if you suffer broken bones, you may no longer be able to enjoy jogging as you used to. You may seek compensation for loss of enjoyment.
Pain and Suffering
The pain from the injuries suffered during an accident may keep you awake at night. You may receive compensation for the pain and suffering. It is hard to quantify pain and suffering for compensation. However, with medical records and in cases where it is evident that you are in pain based on injuries suffered, it is easy to make a claim.
Loss of Consortium
You may claim compensation for loss of consortium if your loved one suffers damages in a brake failure accident. You may no longer have the valued intimate moments with your partner after he/she suffers injuries in a crash.
Contact a Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you or your loved one has suffered injuries in a car accident due to brake failure, you may seek compensation from the liable party. Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney can help you assess the level of damages and seek appropriate compensation. Contact us at 904-800-7557 and speak to one of our attorneys today.