Traffic accidents caused by car defects. That problem is every driver’s nightmare.
You are out for a drive. All of a sudden, your brakes fail. You slam into another car. Are you at fault for the accident? As a traffic accidents lawyer, I can tell you what the law says:
The owner of the motor vehicle has certain legal duties. One duty is to take reasonable care of one’s vehicle. An owner must ensure that his vehicle is in a reasonably safe condition.
In short, the vehicle must be fit for operation. It must be sufficiently equipped and maintained so as not to be a danger to anyone who drives it. And not be a hazard to other drivers, or to pedestrians.
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Owners Can Be Liable For Traffic Accidents Caused By Car Defects
If a vehicle owner fails to take reasonable steps to safely maintain his vehicle, that constitutes legal negligence. (For example, not replacing worn-out brake pads.)
The same goes if an owner fails to properly inspect his vehicle from time to time for problems. (Or have a qualified mechanic inspect it, if the owner doesn’t know how to.) Ditto if the owner fails to properly equip the vehicle. (Such as driving in snow with summer tires.)
A negligent owner under any of the above circumstances is responsible for any traffic accidents directly caused by his negligence. That responsibility includes any physical harm and property damage that the victim suffers.
It is no defense for the owner that he didn’t realize that his vehicle was defective. That is, so long as the owner, had he acted reasonably in maintaining, equipping or inspecting the vehicle, could have found out about the problem.
However, say the defective condition in question was not known to the owner. Say further that there was no reasonable way for the owner to discover or prevent the condition.
In that case, the law does not view the owner as negligent. So then the owner wouldn’t be responsible for traffic accidents that the defect caused.
Of course, others besides a car owner can be responsible for a vehicle defect. These include car manufacturers and repair facilities.
The law in this area is complex. It also may vary from state to state. If a defective car hurts you, consult a traffic accidents attorney immediately.