Brakes are one of the most important safety features of any vehicle. Seat belts, airbags, and crumple zones may increase safety in the event of an accident; however, brakes allow a driver and their passengers to avoid an accident altogether. Unfortunately, when brake failure occurs, the vehicle occupants may be unable to avoid a dangerous accident, leading to serious injuries or even death. When brakes fail, the injured victims may be able to seek compensation from the car company, mechanic, or brake part manufacturer.
When Brakes Malfunction
Some of the first vehicles had a braking system that was essentially a lever that moved a block of wood against the wheels to slow their rotation. Since that time brake technology has changed dramatically, with modern options including anti-lock braking systems and even sensors that automatically slow the vehicle to prevent a collision.
When a driver depresses the brake pedal, the pedal transmits force through a hydraulic system to the brake system. The brake pads then squeeze the wheels, using friction to slow the tire rotation. Anti-lock braking systems use a wheel speed sensor to determine if a wheel is locking up and reduces braking on that wheel to prevent skidding. At any part or aspect of the braking system, a malfunction or failure can occur, placing the driver and occupants in danger of a crash.
A manufacturer's defect could cause a brake cable to break, leading to an accident. A design defect could lead to failure of the braking system to engage, leaving the driver helpless to stop the car. Improper maintenance, failure to detect brake system problems, or improper brake repair can also lead to brake failure and increase the chances of an accident.
Common Brake Failure Accidents
A number of vehicles have been subject to recalls for brake problems. These include the Toyota Prius, Ford trucks, BMWs, Subarus, Hyundais, and GM cars. Defects included defective brake vacuum pumps, brake line leakage, and corrosion.
There are many ways brakes can fail, leading to an accident. A leak in the braking system's hydraulic system could result in the driver hitting the brake pedal with no effect on slowing the system. A computer malfunction could prevent automatic braking or allow anti-lock brakes to seize up. A bad floor mat design could cause the mat to get stuck under the brake pedal preventing the driver from being able to depress the pedal fully.
Other accidents involve problems with the vehicle's emergency brake. A driver may engage the emergency brake when parking on a hill, or if they have to leave the car running while they go out to open a gate or clear the snow off their vehicle. If the emergency brake fails, then the car could roll, crushing anyone in the way of the rolling vehicle. A rolling vehicle could also trap an individual between the vehicle and a fixed object, causing injury and pain until someone else comes along to move the vehicle.
Filing a Claim for Damages
Manufacturing defects involve a departure from a product's intended design, and could involve a problem in the manufacturing plant, use of improper materials, or mistakes by an employee at the factory. If a manufacturer's defect caused a vehicle accident, the manufacturer may be liable for damages to the injured victims.
With a design defect, there is a problem with a product's design that makes the product inherently dangerous. The manufacturer may be unaware of the problem until their product makes it to market. However, in some cases, the manufacturer may be aware of a problem but put the product out on the market anyway, with unknowing customers putting their faith in a defective system. With braking systems, after hundreds of thousands of people put millions of miles on their vehicles, the problems with the design could become more evident if there are similar brake failures.
With any type of brake failure, filing a legal claim can be a complex process. The car manufacturer, parts company, or auto mechanic will generally not admit fault or offer to pay damages. Instead, you may have to file a lawsuit against the company to force them to compensate the injured parties. This may require an investigation, review of the evidence by experts, and testimony by engineers as to why the brakes failed. Talk to your experienced Philadelphia auto accident attorney about your case.
Brake Failure Injury Attorneys in Philadelphia
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 and a lawyer may be the only one who will fight for you. 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 Philadelphia, please contact our law offices as soon as possible.