Buying a new car is a major investment. With the variety of automobiles on the market, buyers have the option of choosing the kind of vehicle that best fits their lifestyle. You may be looking for something sporty, with a powerful engine and a high performance rating, or may need a more family-oriented vehicle, with features designed specifically for children. Or, of course, you may be searching for an environmentally friendly car that uses less gas or utilizes alternative fuel options. Whatever your personal preferences, the most important factor is having a car you can feel safe in on the road. Most consumers take it for granted that a car sold through a dealership has passed rigorous safety inspections, and is free from any types of defects that could endanger them or their passengers. Sadly, this is not always the case.

At the Joye Law Firm, our experienced car accident attorneys frequently handle cases in which an accident was a direct result of defects within the car itself, such as problems with the car’s steering system or faulty or defective brakes. In these types of circumstances, you may be able to hold both the car dealership as well as the manufacturer of the vehicle responsible for any injuries and damages you have sustained. If you have been involved in this type of accident, the following offers important information on who may be held accountable, and the steps you need to take to get the compensation you need to recover.

Automobile Defects a Major Problem in U.S.

For over 40 years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been responsible for setting vehicle safety standards for all cars sold and operated in the United States, and retains the authority to compel car manufacturers to issue recalls on vehicles that fail to conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. As a result, nearly 400 million cars, trucks, and recreational vehicles have been recalled as the result of safety defects, in addition to roughly 65 million other types of automotive equipment. Improving motor vehicle safety is the main goal behind setting these standards and issuing recalls, in the hopes of saving lives and reducing car accidents and injuries.

Unfortunately, according to recent NHTSA crash statistics, mechanical issues with the vehicle itself were a critical factor in as many as 44,000 accidents in 2015. The NHTSA reports that as many as 10,000 accidents occur each year due specifically to brake failure, which can result in the following types of collisions:

  • Rear end collisions, due to inability to brake in response to slowed traffic;
  • Side impact collisions resulting from inability to brake for traffic signals;
  • Sideswipe and head on collisions, caused by switching lanes to avoid crashes caused by brake failure;
  • Hitting inanimate objects, such as buildings, guardrails, or utility poles.

How Dealers and Manufacturers Can Be Held Responsible

If you have been injured in an accident resulting from a faulty or defective brake system, the car dealership as well as the car manufacturer may be held liable for damages in the following ways:

Product Liability Lawsuit

Under Section 15-73-10 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, sellers of defective products are legally responsible for any injuries or property losses that occur due to defects that the seller failed to correct or warn the buyer of. Provided you were not made aware of any defects in the brake system when buying the car, both new and used car dealerships can be held accountable for any injuries you suffered as a result, regardless of whether the dealer themselves was aware of the defect. In cases involving new cars, the car manufacturer may be held liable as well, for failing to correct defects or to issue a recall.

Through a Personal Injury Lawsuit

You may be entitled to compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident resulting from a faulty brake system through a personal injury lawsuit, alleging negligence on the part of the seller. Black’s Law Dictionary defines negligence as either failing to do something a reasonable person would do under similar circumstances, or actually taking an action a reasonable person would not take in the same situation. Your car dealership may be held accountable for failing to warn you of potential defects in the brake system, or for failing to take the proper steps to ensure the vehicle’s safety before selling it.

Getting the Compensation You Deserve for Your Injuries

In order to get the compensation you deserve for your injuries in a car accident as the result of faulty or defective brakes, it is important to take the following steps:

At the Accident Scene:

  • Notify law enforcement immediately;
  • Get help for anyone who has been injured;
  • Exchange contact information, as well as vehicle insurance and registration numbers, with other drivers involved;
  • Make note of the circumstances leading up to the accident, and any witnesses who may have been present;
  • Seek medical care for your own injuries, regardless of how minor they may appear.

After the Accident:

  • Notify your insurer as soon as possible;
  • Attend all follow up doctor appointments, and follow all recommendations for treatment and care of your injuries;
  • Avoid talking about the accident, its causes, or your injuries with others, and refrain from posting information about the incident on social media.
  • Contact an experienced car accident attorney before signing any documents or accepting any settlement offers.

In many cases, insurance companies will attempt to deny claims, or try to get you to settle for far less than what your claim is actually worth. Insurance settlements often fail to adequately compensate for the medical expenses you are likely to suffer in the future as the result of your injury, and may fail to factor in any lost wages or permanent disabilities you may end up experiencing. Once you have accepted a settlement, your legal rights in terms of filing a lawsuit against the car dealership are extremely limited.

Contact a Brake Failure Lawyer Today

If you or someone you care about suffers injuries as the result of a car crash or collision caused by defective brakes, contact our experienced brake failure lawyers right away. At the Joye Law Firm, we provide the aggressive legal representation you need to assist in getting the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to for the injuries you have suffered, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages meant to punish your car dealership or the manufacturer for selling you a vehicle with a faulty or defective brake system. Get the knowledgeable, professional legal help you need and call or contact our office online today for a free case consultation.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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