Car Accident Mechanical Failures in Palm Beach
In Palm Beach, Florida, there are many different causes of car accidents which can result in property damage, personal injuries or even death. Common causes of car accidents range from negligent driving practices to vehicle mechanical failure.
When a car accident occurs due to mechanical failure it is important to identify that it was the actual cause of the crash, as opposed to human driving error. Once this has been determined, then it must be investigated as to whether or not the mechanical failure was the fault of the auto manufacturer, a mechanical service that was previously rendered or the negligence of the vehicle’s owner. This can ensure that the responsible parties are correctly held accountable.
When it comes to a car accident due to vehicle mechanical failure, determining liability can be an exceptionally complex process. Part of the reason for this is that every party that is involved will usually make an attempt at avoiding being held responsible. Therefore, the first step in the process for determining liability is ensuring that the vehicle which caused the accident is preserved for investigation (if possible). This can be necessary in determining if there were defective or worn out parts that were a factor in the accident. Florida law contains three legal standards that can apply to a vehicle mechanical failure claim:
- Claim for negligence
- Products liability
- A strict liability claim
Damages are defined as the compensation that is provided to the individual filing the lawsuit (plaintiff) for injury or harm that is suffered due to the negligence of another individual. The amount of the damages that are awarded will depend on: the type of injury that is suffered, economic damages including medical bills and lost wages and non-economic damages.
Florida’s Comparative Fault statutes (768.81)
Florida is a comparative negligence state. This means that if the person filing the lawsuit (plaintiff) is partially responsible for the accident that caused them harm, then the damages to be awarded will be reduced. The reduction of damages awarded will be proportional to the amount of responsibility attributed to the plaintiff. However, that doesn’t mean that the plaintiff won’t recover any damages at all.
A car accident from vehicle mechanical failure may result from a wide variety of vehicle parts. However, some of the more common parts that can be the cause of mechanical failure are:
- Steering Mechanisms – In today’s vehicles, steering mechanisms are very complex, which can make them subject to a number of different types of failures. When a steering mechanism has failed, it becomes difficult to maintain control of the vehicle and an accident can easily occur. Should this type of failure come about, the priority is to determine who is ultimately at fault for the steering failure.
- Vehicle Taillights and Headlights – Vehicle taillights and headlights are designed to assist other drivers to see your vehicle and for you to see the road ahead. When a vehicle has either dim or broken; taillights, brake lights, turn signals or headlights, it compromises the driver’s visibility and the ability of other drivers to see them. This can result in vehicle crashes, particularly in situations in which visibility is already diminished, such as during inclement weather and at night.
- Windshield Wipers – Windshield wipers are important for maintaining visibility when weather conditions are poor. Because of this, one should have them changed on a regular basis in accordance to how much they have been used and are worn. Windshield wipers that are worn will not have the ability to effectively remove windshield moisture. Another type of wiper failure can occur when the wiper motor is no longer functioning properly. Any problems that are connected with windshield wiper failure can easily result in a car crash when driving in poor weather conditions.
- Vehicle Tires – Tires in which the treads are worn or tires that have blown out, can be a common cause of a Palm Beach car accident from vehicle mechanical failure. A vehicle’s tires are a point of contact to the road and are required to provide sufficient traction, steering and stopping ability. Tires that aren’t inflated properly or have worn treads are unable to ensure safe driving and may even be subject to blowing out easily. This can result in a catastrophic vehicle accident, especially in situations that involve high speeds.
- Vehicle Brakes – Brakes are extremely important components when it comes to vehicle safety. When brakes fail or are compromised due to wear, it can be the fault of the individual who is responsible for repairing or replacing them. Other notable brake problems can be related to the vehicle’s brake lines and ABS systems. These failures are sometimes the fault of the vehicle manufacturers or mechanics who have previously worked on them.
Other types of vehicle mechanical failures can relate to the electronic components of an engine, which may cause an engine to shut off unexpectedly. There are also failures that are associated with equipment that is designed to prevent or lessen injuries, such as vehicle air bags and seat belts.
If you believe that your car crash and personal injury was the result of a mechanical failure, you may have a claim against the vehicle manufacturer and/or the vehicle’s components. Under Florida’s product liability laws, the product manufacturers may be held responsible for the harm that arises from their products. It’s possible that a manufacturer can be sued in court under; breach of warranty, negligence or strict liability. An example of strict liability would be holding the vehicle manufacturer accountable if it’s determined that their product was unreasonable dangerous by being defective once it left the control of the manufacturer.
In any case, when you place a claim against a manufacturer, it must be shown that the vehicle (or one of its parts) was defective. When it comes to liability lawsuits, there are three types of product defects:
- Marketing Defects – This is relatively rare for vehicle manufacturer lawsuits. That’s because manufacturers are careful to make sure that a disclaimer is present on all of their media commercials and advertising materials. Not paying strict attention to proper marketing regulations would most likely lead to a catastrophe for the manufacturer, when it comes to lawsuits.
- Design Defects – This means that there was a problem that occurred in the way that the vehicle was actually designed. This type of defect will usually involve an entire vehicle product line, as opposed to just a singular group of components or vehicles. For example, there may be a case in which the car had a faulty design that caused a gas tank explosion when the vehicle was hit from behind. The car manufacturer could be then be considered liable for any damages that resulted from the gas tank explosion.
- Manufacturing Defects – An example of this would be when a flaw or defect occurred when a specific item was assembled. This type of defect is more commonly associated with a limited number of parts or vehicles, as opposed to an entire line.
In situations involving a lawsuit against a manufacturer, a causal link needs to be drawn between your injury and the actual vehicle defect. Doing so will justify your right to claim damages from the vehicle manufacturer.
Of course, there are times in which the mechanical failure that resulted in an accident was caused by someone who incorrectly repaired the vehicle. In this situation, you may have a claim against the mechanic if the failure to properly repair or maintained the vehicle resulted in the accident. Here, you would want to show that the mechanic owed you a “duty of care” and violated that duty. This violation then resulted in your personal injuries which caused you to incur damages. In cases such as these, the damages that are possible to recover can include; property damage, medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering and other damages.
In Florida, injury victims have four years from the time of the accident in order to file their personal injury claim. Failure to bring suit in time may negate your right to sue. (Sec. 95.11(3)). For wrongful death cases, its two years Sec. 95.11(4)(d). However, in certain situations, the time frame may be “tolled” or postponed. It is advisable to first consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.
In Florida, there is also the “pure comparative negligence rule” that states if the person filing the lawsuit was partially at fault, then they may receive damages that are reduced in accordance to the percentage of the fault that they are responsible for. An example of this would be a situation in which the damages amounted to $10,000, but it’s been determined that you were 20% at fault. In this situation, the awarded damages may be reduced by $2,000.
When it comes to the decision of holding someone liable for a defective product or service, the court will usually consider two issues; negligence and products liability. With product liability, the focus will be on the actual product (vehicle and parts). With ‘negligence’, the focus will be on the actions of; the mechanic, the seller/distributor or the manufacturer.
When deciding whether or not you should pursue a legal claim in the event of a car accident arising from vehicle mechanical failure, you should consult with a personal injury attorney. There are a number of complicated steps that are related to determining whether the accident was the result of a problem with the functionality of the vehicle. An experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in auto accidents will have the knowledge and resources that are needed in order to try to complete a thorough analysis regarding the vehicle’s proper functionality. Even in cases in which the vehicle is totally demolished there are a number of clues that can point to vehicle responsibility.
Be advised that those who may be at fault in a vehicle mechanical failure accident may also have legal guidance when it comes to their defense. This can make it important for you to be represented, as well.
When you have been involved in a Palm Beach car mechanical accident, it’s important to consult with a personal injury attorney, in order to try to receive the best care and compensation that you rightfully deserve. Therefore, when you are involved in a Palm Beach car accident, seek immediate medical care and contact a Florida personal injury attorney.
Discuss Your Case with a Car Accident Personal Injury Attorney Serving Palm Beach Today! If you were injured in a car accident in Palm Beach, turn to Frankl & Kominsky for comprehensive legal guidance. Call 561-800-8000 or use our Contact Form to set up a free consultation.