Who Can I Sue If My Brakes Fail in St. Louis MO?
An automobile defect can play a role in a motor vehicle collision. While some drivers experience sudden flat tires, others have brake failures. Motorists and passengers are vulnerable to crashes if the brake system does not perform well.
If you file an accident claim, you must identify a negligent party. Defective car parts tend to make cases complex since you might be able to sue different entities for a brake failure. Learn how a St. Louis car accident attorney can assist your case and sue if your brakes fail.
Common Causes of Brake Failures
A small percentage of car accidents are because of faulty vehicle components. Annually, failures with the brake system create over 10,000 crashes. The brakes wear down over time and require maintenance and even replacement.
Besides worn brake pads, additional factors can contribute to a system malfunction. Some are more common issues than others.
Low Hydraulic Pressure
The hydraulic pressure allows a person to stop their vehicle quickly in an emergency. If the system loses pressure, the car could take longer to slow down. The brakes might not work at all in severe circumstances.
The problem could be with a component. Alternatively, a leak causes the hydraulic fluid to escape.
Damaged Brake Rotors
Brake rotors are metal discs on each wheel. They slow the wheels. The discs may sustain damage or become warped. As a result, they wear down the life expectancy of the brakes.
Worn Brake Booster
Cars have a brake booster to take the force of pressing on the pad and increase it. Over time, the part could suffer from performance issues. An insufficient brake booster likely will not create enough force to slow the vehicle in time.
Therefore, a driver is at risk of colliding with another motorist or pedestrian. They may swerve off the road to avoid a car, only to hit a tree or pole.
Heat can do plenty of damage to car parts, including the brakes. The brake system may overheat due to poor-quality components or worn pads. In some cases, improper brake pad installation results in excessive friction.
Cars are convenient for carrying luggage and other items across long distances. However, overloading vehicles can put a strain on the brakes. The system has to work harder to stop the vehicle in time, and the car may need a longer braking distance.
Overloading can be dangerous. A driver is at risk of an accident if other hazardous road conditions are around. The maximum weight a passenger car can carry depends on the vehicle type. For example, mid-size sedans have an average capacity of 850 pounds.
How to Know if a Defective Brake Caused the Crash
A car collision can occur for a multitude of reasons. A vehicle owner might be unsure if their brakes caused the crash. Faulty brakes display specific warning signs beforehand.
You could have a brake failure lawsuit if you have noticed:
- A squealing or grinding noise. The squealing you hear could be because the metal from worn pads comes into contact with the rotor. Moreover, the discs or drum brakes may sound like the car grinds while you drive.
- Vibrations or wobbling. When braking, you might have felt the car or steering wheel vibrate. The feeling was likely due to an uneven rotor.
- The brake light was on. Many vehicles have an indicator to alert drivers of regular maintenance or a possible complication with the brakes. The parking brake may cause the light to activate as well. Therefore, an auto repair shop could determine why the light was on.
- Soft brakes. Drivers can confirm their suspicions by determining how the brakes feel when they press down on them. Resistance naturally occurs, but the system might be faulty if the pedal can easily touch the floor.
Have someone inspect your car immediately if you noticed any signs before the accident. You can begin a claim if the mechanic determines the brakes are defective. Your lawyer starts the process by finding out who is the liable party.
Who Can You Sue for a Brake Failure?
The insurance company might see the driver as the negligent party during brake failure claims. Car owners are responsible for getting a mechanic to check the brakes at appropriate intervals. They could be liable if an incident happens.
However, other entities could have been negligent for poor-quality brakes. An issue may still occur even if you ensure your car is in optimal condition. A brake failure may have caused you and others significant injuries.
The effects of a malfunction can leave someone with substantial hospital bills. The law may allow them to file a lawsuit to recover the money they spend.
A potentially liable party is the manufacturer of the brakes. In St. Louis, Missouri, manufacturers have a duty of care toward consumers. In addition, vehicles have to meet safety standards. Therefore creators must exercise caution to avoid liability issues.
A manufacturer must ensure the brake system parts have a safe design and undergo proper assembly. Otherwise, you and your lawyer can sue them for the injuries a bad part caused and for a manufacturing defect.
In addition to manufacturers, product liability laws make sellers liable for accidents a product causes. The car dealer may have been aware of potential issues with the brakes. Nevertheless, they still sold an unsafe vehicle to a customer without a proper warning.
Your attorney would need to find evidence of the defective brakes being hazardous. Then, they need to show how the seller should have reasonably known about the issue.
You could hold the mechanic accountable if you visited a repair shop shortly before the accident. Mechanics have training in noticing issues and correcting them. They can identify what part could become an issue in the future and alert the driver.
Some mechanics fail to meet the industry’s standards and allow problems to remain under the radar. Additionally, they might make mistakes while they perform repairs. For example, a mechanic did not put enough fluid in the brake system.
You need to prove how a repair shop’s negligent repairs led to the accident. Establishing liability may not be easy. A car accident lawyer can help you find evidence to prove your claim.
Possible Defenses From the Liable Party
A manufacturer, distributor, or seller could face strict liability if you establish a connection between the defective brakes and the crash. Therefore, the other party may attempt to dispute your claims of negligence.
Possible arguments from the defendant include:
- The brakes did not cause the plaintiff’s damages. Even if the brakes were faulty, they might not have been the cause of the crash. The manufacturer may attempt to cast doubt on your claim and say another factor resulted in your injuries.
- The driver was negligent. The defendant may say the motorist was responsible for the brake failure. They could show the plaintiff overloaded their car or did not see a repair shop when they should have.
- Expired statute of limitations. Some defendants use legal or procedural defenses to avoid liability. They could have the judge dismiss the case if the statute of limitation expired. In states like Missouri, a person has five years to start their claim.
If the negligent party is a repair shop, the mechanic may state the problem is unrelated to their maintenance work. An issue with the brake pads may not have anything to do with their repairs. Furthermore, the complication could have been unforeseeable.
Some mechanics say the damaged brakes were a new problem and appeared after they finished repairs. If an inspection happened long before an accident, the defendant might be able to argue their case successfully.
Negligence is straightforward in several cases. However, the other party may have strategies to prevent a settlement payout. A car accident lawyer argues for your right to compensation. They may be able to locate documents to disprove the defendant’s arguments.
How to Prove Brake Failure in a Lawsuit?
Have an Auto Repair Shop Inspect the Vehicle
After the brakes fail to work, the individual should have a garage tow the car immediately. Continued use of the vehicle is unsafe. In addition, the court might not believe someone’s claim of a faulty brake system if they drive away instead.
You can pick any auto repair shop to assess and fix your car. Find a neutral mechanic to inspect your brakes if you suspect them to be the cause. The mechanic’s findings help prove defective brakes were the reason you suffered from injuries. Furthermore, keep a copy of the expenses to connect the liable party’s negligence to the damages.
Get a Copy of the Police Report
If the brakes cause an accident, the police likely will arrive and evaluate the scene. A responding officer takes statements from each party and witnesses. After they finish, you can get a copy of the accident report to use in your lawsuit.
Collect Witness Statements
Testimony from a witness can be a valuable asset. The person could have overheard you talk about being unable to stop. Therefore, you can contact them later, and your car accident lawyer may get a statement from them.
In several instances, attorneys call on expert witnesses to support the plaintiff’s claims. An expert witness is someone who has experience in a relevant field. The person can be someone who works in automotive repair. They may be able to conclude your brakes were not in optimal condition.
Get Proof of Income
Evidence includes pay stubs and tax returns as well. The documents showcase how the injured party could not resume work for a while due to their injuries.
Photos are beneficial as evidence in a brake-related lawsuit. Try to collect images of certain brake system parts, like improperly installed pads. Photos may include details of the accident scene and any injuries as well.
What Damages Can You Collect?
In a brake failure lawsuit, you can receive reimbursement for medical expenses. The court considers the bills you get from the doctor, physical therapy, medication, and other related healthcare treatment. If faulty brakes result in future medical care, you can claim the expenses in a lawsuit.
If a defective brake system causes a person’s death, surviving family members can gain compensation. The court can award them money for funeral and burial costs. Additionally, loved ones can get reimbursement for the victim’s medical care up until the person’s death.
An extensive recovery period usually means the injured party cannot go to their job. Furthermore, a debilitating injury may prevent them from resuming work in the future. A lawsuit may award money for missed wages and loss of earning potential.
An accident due to bad brakes generally leads to damaged vehicles and even personal items. You might have to spend money on significant repairs or replacements. Keep copies of the bills, and your attorney can add them to the settlement calculation.
Brake failure-related crashes may result in non-economic damages. The injuries from an accident usually lead to pain and suffering. The amount of money someone receives depends on the circumstances of the case and the court’s location.
Debilitating injuries affect people physically and emotionally. An individual may experience depression and withdraw from loved ones. As a result, the judge may award the plaintiff compensation for loss of enjoyment of life.
In wrongful death cases, the surviving spouse can claim loss of companionship in a lawsuit. Additionally, children are eligible for reimbursement for lost benefits. However, the damage usually goes to minors instead of adult children.
Other damages may apply to your brake failure lawsuit. Your lawyer can inform you of what you can claim. They are familiar with what elements may affect the potential settlement.
St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
A St. Louis personal injury lawyer gets to work while you spend time recovering from your injuries. They know what evidence proves the brakes were the reason for the accident. Furthermore, the attorney may be able to connect the defective car part to the liable party.
The other side may have ways to get out of a settlement. Your lawyer knows what strategies could counter the opposing party’s arguments. They talk with the insurance company to agree on a possible settlement deal.
A lawyer stays by your side if you have to deal with an automotive manufacturer. You should find someone who is not afraid to take on the defendant. Many offer consultations for free, so you can locate a qualified firm. Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.
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I represent individuals in Missouri and Illinois in all types of personal injury cases. In my short time here I have obtained a judgment for $2.5 million and settled a large class action lawsuit for a confidential amount.
I love the city of St. Louis and support it and give back whenever I can. Recently I was appointed by Mayor Francis Slay to serve on the Advisory Board for the Gateway Mall.
I am married to my lovely wife Lauren and we have two beautiful daughters, Mia and Bridget.