Driving defensively requires keeping your eyes on the road, and responding quickly to any dangerous conditions. In most cases, when a driver is cut off by another car or a car backs out in front of them, the driver has to apply the brakes to avoid an accident. However, when a vehicle's brakes fail, there may be nothing a driver can do to keep from crashing, resulting in injuries to themselves and others.
While brakes seem like a standard safety feature in vehicles, many brake systems are prone to malfunctions or defects. Drivers expect brakes to work and rely on them to avoid dangerous accidents. Unfortunately, many automobile companies and brake manufacturers put dangerous products out on the market that put drivers, passengers, and pedestrians at risk.
Brake failure may be caused by manufacturer's defects, design defects, improper maintenance, improper brake repair, or errors by a vehicle service department. These problems can be caused by the vehicle manufacturer, parts department workers, parts manufacturer, auto mechanic, or poor quality control. The vehicle manufacturing and testing process is intended to prevent faulty products from leaving the factory. However, many faulty vehicles and parts still make it to the market where they are purchased by unsuspecting consumers.
In some cases, the vehicle manufacturer may be aware of a defect that leads to brake failure; however, they may not warn consumers about the problem if their cost-benefit analysis determines that the cost of a few deadly accidents is not worth an expensive recall. Manufacturers may be putting profit ahead of customer safety. It may take an investigation, multiple lawsuits, and government intervention before some vehicle manufacturers will issue a safety recall.
In many cases, brake failure is only discovered at a time when the driver is placed in immediate danger of an accident. Drivers may have no warning signs that the brakes may fail until they try to apply them in traffic. Without time to do anything about the problem, many drivers end up in dangerous accidents, leading to injury or death.
Parking Brake Failure
Another dangerous defect involves parking brake failure. When a driver parks the car, they may engage the parking brake, especially when parking on a hill. However, after they turn off the vehicle they may realize that the car is continuing to roll. This can cause an accident if the car rolls into a fixed object, another car, or hits a pedestrian.
Defective Brake Recalls
Many vehicles have been subject to brake recalls over the years. Almost no vehicle manufacturer is immune from defective parts that put drivers and passengers at risk of injury. Vehicle recalls include the Toyota Prius, Ford F-150, BMW 3 and 5 Series, Subarus, Hyundais, and General Motors vehicles. In some cases, the vehicles were recalled because of concerns that the parking brake could become inoperative, leading to accidents. Other recalls involved brake vacuum pump failure or sudden and complete loss of braking ability.
In 2014, more than 600,000 Subaru vehicles were recalled over concerns of brake line corrosion. In locations that use salt on the roads to melt snow and ice, the salt water splashed on brake lines because there was a gap in the fuel tank protector. This could lead to corrosion of the brake lines and brake fluid leakage that could compromise the vehicle's ability to stop when the brakes are applied.
Defective Brake Injuries
Most drivers have no options after they realize they have lost the ability to brake. An accident may only be seconds away. If a driver does have time, they may try and apply the parking brake. In many cases, this will allow them to slow the car down, reducing the impact or preventing a collision. Drivers with a manual transmission may be able to downshift to slow the car. In rural areas, a driver may try and drive on the shoulder; however, this may increase the risk of a rollover.
Injuries sustained in a defective brake accident often depend on the speed the vehicle is traveling. High-speed collisions may have a greater risk of serious injuries or death. However, even slow speed accidents can lead to serious injuries. Common vehicle accident injuries include neck or spinal injuries, head injuries, head trauma, broken bones, lacerations, crushing injuries, internal injuries, and facial injuries.
DC Brake Failure Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident caused by brake malfunction or brake failure, the car company and any individuals responsible should pay for their negligence. It may be difficult dealing with the car company or your own insurance company. At Gilman & Bedigian, our attorneys have decades of experience aggressively pursuing compensation for injury victims and their families. If you suffered an injury in a car accident in Washington D.C, please contact our law offices as soon as possible.