Google Screened

Am I Liable if Brake Failure Caused a Car Accident?

Our Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Accident Victims Injured in Brake Failure Accidents

The sudden realization that your brakes have failed while driving is a nightmare scenario for any motorist. In addition to its immediate danger, the aftermath can be legally complex. The question of liability in cases where brake failure leads to a car accident is not always straightforward.

There are several reasons why a vehicle’s brakes can fail, including mechanical issues, manufacturing defects, poor maintenance, or a combination of these factors.  When brakes malfunction, a driver does not have many options to regain control of their vehicle, most often leading to an accident. 

Regardless of the cause, the consequences of brake failure can be deadly and severe.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about two percent of all car accidents are caused by mechanical problems, with brake failures accounting for about a quarter of that two percent.    

When a brake failure causes a car accident, potential areas of negligence may include:

  • Inadequate maintenance: If drivers neglect regular maintenance and inspections, allowing brake issues to escalate without intervention, they may be deemed negligent. Regular brake maintenance is a driver’s responsibility, and failure to uphold this duty of care could result in legal consequences.
  • Manufacturing defects: In some cases, brake failure may be attributed to defects in the manufacturing process. If it can be proven that the brakes were inherently flawed and the driver was unaware of these defects, liability may shift to the manufacturer or distributor.
  • Mechanical issues: Drivers are responsible for ensuring the roadworthiness of their vehicles. If a driver is aware of mechanical issues, such as brake problems, and continues operating the vehicle without addressing these concerns, they may be liable for resulting accidents.
  • Emergency situations: Brake failure may be so sudden and unexpected that the driver has little to no time to react. If it can be demonstrated that the driver took reasonable steps to address the situation, they may not be held fully liable.

Proving liability in a brake failure accident case can be quite difficult.  Establishing liability in brake failure-induced accidents requires a thorough examination of the circumstances. Gathering evidence, such as maintenance records, expert opinions, and eyewitness accounts, is crucial. In cases involving manufacturing defects, cooperation with investigators and product liability experts becomes essential to build a strong legal case.

What to Do if Your Brakes Fail While Driving?

Although rare, brake failure while driving does happen and can happen to anyone at any time.  To prevent brake failure, it is essential first to recognize the signs that your vehicle is in danger of brake failure, such as:

  • Brake pad warning light or brake system warning light is illuminated on dashboard.
  • Vehicle takes longer than usual to come to a complete stop.
  • Vehicle pulls to one side while braking.
  • Vehicle shakes or vibrates while driving. 
  • Resistance changes when putting pressure on the brake pedal. 
  • Brake pedal does not travel at all when pressed. 
  • Brake pedal goes to the floor.
  • Brake fluid leaking under the vehicle.
  • Squealing or grinding noises while braking.
  • Burning metal smell when braking. 

Here are a few tips to stop your vehicle should a brake failure occur:

  • Pump the brake: Pumping the brake while keeping your foot off the accelerator helps build residual pressure in the braking system.  It will also flash your brake lights, warning traffic you are trying to stop.
  • Pull the parking brake: Applying the parking brake will slow the car down by stopping the rear wheels, but do so slowly instead of immediately to avoid your vehicle from spinning out. 
  • Shift to lower gears: If you remove your foot from the accelerator, a vehicle with an automatic transmission will downshift on its own.  Other cars can manually downshift either with a gear shifter or paddle shifter.  This is called engine braking; you use gears to stop the car. 

Our Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLCHelp Accident Victims Injured in Brake Failure Accidents

Brake failure during driving can have disastrous consequences.  Whether you were injured in an accident caused by brake failure or your brakes failed while driving, you will need the best legal team to help you with your case.  Our Delaware car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC are here for you. Call us at 302-888-1221 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients in Dover, Newark, and Middletown.