If you got rear-ended, or if you were hit at an intersection by a driver who seemed to have lost control of his or her vehicle, you may suspect that a brake failure was to blame. In fact, the other driver might have even told you that his or her brakes failed when you exchanged insurance information at the scene of the accident. If this is the case, what are your legal rights, and how can you recover your accident-related losses?
Filing a Claim for a Car Accident Caused By a Brake Failure
When a brake failure leads to a car accident, there are several parties that can potentially be to blame. Depending on the circumstances involved, the driver, the vehicle’s owner (if different from the driver), the vehicle’s manufacturer, and a dealership or repair shop that worked on the vehicle could all potentially be liable for your injuries.
Most brake failures occur for one of the following reasons:
Vehicle brake systems have four main components. All four of these components have the potential to fail—and if they do, this can leave drivers helpless to avoid dangerous collisions. Brake failures can involve:
- Brake Rotors – Brake rotors are the silver discs you can see through your car’s wheels. These discs spin with your wheel, and they need to be strong enough to withstand the forces involved with bringing a vehicle to a controlled stop. Cracks, warping, uneven wear and manufacturing defects can all lead to brake rotor failures.
- Brake Calipers – Brake calipers use hydraulic force to grip a vehicle’s brake rotors when the driver presses the brake pedal. This gripping, or squeezing, creates friction which causes the vehicle to slow down. Manufacturing defects, mechanical failures and inadequate maintenance can all cause brake calipers to fail unexpectedly.
- Brake Pads – Inside of the brake calipers are brake pads. Brake calipers hold brake pads firmly in place, and it is the pads that come into direct contact with the rotors during braking. Brake pads can be made of various compounds that heat up and wear out at different rates, and brake pads can also suffer from various issues that can lead to failure.
- Brake Lines – The brake pedal is connected to the brake caliper via brake lines (either directly or via an electric braking system). These brake lines are filled with brake fluid, which pushes the calipers closed when the driver presses the pedal. Cracking, inadequate heat insulation and various other issues can cause brake line failures, which can, in turn, leave drivers unable to stop their vehicles.
- Brake defects (i.e. issues with the way that brakes are designed or manufactured)
- Faulty brake jobs
- Failure to repair or replace work brakes
Many modern vehicles include complex electric braking systems that also have the potential to fail. If a vehicle’s electric braking system malfunctions, this has the potential to cause a serious or fatal accident as well.
If your accident resulted from a brake failure, then recovering your losses will start with determining which of these factors was to blame. This will require a comprehensive investigation, and it will be important for you to hire a lawyer as soon as possible.
Was a Brake Failure Definitely the Cause of the Accident?
While brake failures do occur, they are relatively rare—especially in comparison to the frequency with which drivers make mistakes behind the wheel. As a result, in addition to investigating the possibility of a brake failure, it will be important to investigate the possibility that the other driver was negligent in causing your accident as well. For example, common forms of driver negligence that can lead to rear-end collisions and intersection accidents include:
- Distracted driving (i.e. texting, following GPS directions or looking at objects outside of the vehicle)
- Impaired driving (i.e. driving while fatigued or under the influence of alcohol or drugs)
- Running a red light, running a stop sign or attempting to “beat” a yellow light
- Recklessly changing lanes or weaving through heavy traffic
- Speeding up in stop-and-go traffic in order to prevent someone else from changing lanes
Regardless of the circumstances involved – whether your accident resulted from a brake failure, driver negligence or some other factor – you can seek compensation for your injuries, and you should consult with a car accident lawyer about your legal rights. You can minimally file for personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, but you may be entitled to significant additional compensation as well.
Recent Automotive Brake Recalls
Brake defects are far more common than any of us would like to believe. Automotive manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have issued several brake-related recalls in recent years. If your vehicle is not subject to a recall, this does not necessarily mean your vehicle’s brakes are safe. However, if your vehicle is subject to a recall, this could be an important factor in your claim for financial compensation. Some examples of recent brake recalls include:
- Ford – Ford has recently issued a recall for full-sized pickup trucks and SUVs for model years 2016 through 2017 due to concerns related to leaking brake fluid.
- General Motors – General Motors has recalled more than 3.5 million trucks and SUVs from the 2018 model year (including Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon models) due to multiple brake-related concerns.
- Mercedes – Mercedes recently recalled more than a million cars sold in the U.S. and worldwide in 2014 and 2015 due to concerns with their high-tech brake booster systems.
- Subaru – Subaru has recently issued a recall for certain model years of the Impreza, Legacy, Outback and XV Crosstrek.
- Toyota – Toyota has recalled hundreds of thousands of vehicles over brake failure concerns, including Camry models manufactured in 2018 and 2019.
Discuss Your Claim with Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer Joseph Maus
For more information about recovering your losses from a car accident in Fort Lauderdale, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Maus Law Firm. To discuss your legal rights with attorney Joseph Maus in confidence, call 855-999-5297 or tell us about your accident online now.