Brakes are one of the essential features in a vehicle, and it’s critical to inspect them frequently and fix any problem that arises. Failing to do so may lead to a brake failure that may eventually cause auto accidents on roads, and you will have to take full responsibility for the outcome. However, your car brakes may fail because of faulty maintenance or manufacturing defects that you couldn’t have foreseen. In cases like this, it’s only fair that the responsible parties assume responsibility if a crash occurs.
At the G. Dallas Horton & Associates law firm, we help people who have been hurt in car collisions in Las Vegas. We are experienced litigators and are ready to help you seek compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, pain & suffering, and other losses. Reach out to talk to one of our knowledgeable attorneys about your case.
Brake Failure Car Accident Overview
There are several ways in which brake failure can cause car accidents. Accidents may occur because of faulty parking brakes, emergency brakes, power brakes, or failure in the brake shift interlock. In other cases, the hydraulic system may fail, or brake pads may harden. If these issues arise because of flaws in manufacturing, design, or negligent vehicle repair, crash victims can pursue compensation by filing a personal injury claim.
The correlation between brake failure and a collision isn’t always readily evident. You need a lawyer that will thoroughly investigate the specific facts of your case to uncover how and why you were injured in this manner. Our lawyers are experts at gathering proof and presenting compelling arguments on behalf of their clients. We will do everything in our power to assist in achieving the best possible legal result.
Brake Failure Accident Injuries
Most motorists have no option after realizing that they’ve lost the ability to brake. A collision may only be a few seconds away. In case a driver has adequate time, he/she may try to engage the parking brake. In most cases, engaging the parking brakes enables them to slow down the vehicle. A driver can try to drive on the shoulder in a rural setting, though this may elevate the risk of a rollover accident.
Injuries suffered in a faulty brake car crash are usually based on the speed at which the car moves. High-speed collisions may pose a significant risk of severe injuries. Common injuries include spinal or neck injuries, head trauma, head injuries, lacerations, internal injuries, facial injuries, broken bones, and crushing injuries.
Fault in Brake Failure Car Accidents
Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience that’s all too common in Nevada. When the collision is because of brake failure, it can be more challenging to determine who is at fault for the crash. If the accident happened due to brake failure, then several parties or entities may be accountable. The car’s motorists may claim that they aren’t liable for the injuries and property damage because they couldn’t control the brakes and didn’t know that they were defective.
Nevada law requires that drivers keep their car brake in good working condition. This ultimately places the motorist responsible, meaning that even if a mechanic doesn’t notice faulty brakes, it’s the driver’s duty to note it.
Who Else Is to Blame?
Even though motorists have the responsibility to maintain the proper working condition of their brakes, we have cases where the driver can successfully argue they aren’t to blame for the accident resulting from brake failure. For them to do this, they have to establish:
- The reason why the brakes failed
- That the car had been recently inspected before the accident and that proper maintenance was done
- Nothing had occurred before the accident to alert them that the brake had an issue, or that there was any other issue that caused brake failure.
- The crash’s cause arose way after car inspection was done or wasn’t something readily detectable from the routine inspection.
If the driver does not argue any of these points convincingly, then they will have confessed to failing in their duty to keep well-functioning brakes. If all aspects aren’t clearly established, the motorist will be considered to have been negligent and will be required to compensate you for the resulting injuries and property damage. If the motorist is capable of proving the elements we mentioned above, liability will shift to other parties. They include:
If there was an issue that the mechanic didn’t remedy or made an error that led to a brake failure and eventually leading to the car accident, that mechanic could be held responsible. This might be challenging to prove since the motorist and their mechanic are more likely to hesitate to provide documents that prove fault. The motorist with the defective brakes can take up fault on the mechanic’s part and vice versa.
Another party that needs to be considered for liability in a brake failure car accident is the vehicle or brake manufacturer. The manufacturer needs to be evaluated to determine whether they were negligent before releasing the car to the market. A vehicle manufacturer may be held responsible for defective brakes in various ways, including:
- If your specific auto was poorly designed, resulting in faulty brakes in the vehicle
- If an entire line of automobiles in the market have faulty brakes because the design of the brake system is substandard
Usually, car manufacturers learn of the faults and voluntarily recall the vehicles for repair or replacement of defective systems. In case the manufacturer doesn’t correct the flaws, they may be held accountable for car crash injuries caused by brake failure.
For your claim against the manufacturer or mechanic to hold, you have to show that:
- Their action or inaction resulted in unreasonably dangerous condition of the brakes.
- The crash occurred due to the condition of the car brakes.
- There wasn’t any significant alteration to the car since the manufacturer or mechanic last had it.
Steps to Take After a Brake Failure Car Crash
Should you incur injuries after a car accident, these are the steps you should take to improve your chances of being compensated, and also increase the compensation amount:
- Call 911 to request medical help and also report the accident.
- Seek medical treatment immediately. Even when you don’t feel like you are hurt, you still have to see a doctor. Don’t assume that you weren’t hurt since some injuries might not be immediately discoverable. The same applies to minor injuries. If you don’t get immediate medical care, these injuries may worsen as days pass. Failing to obtain medical treatment will give the insurance provider the basis to deny your claim.
- Call the police to the site of the accident and file your report with them. Give only the info the officers require to write their reports. Don’t admit fault for whatever reason. Leave the duty for determining liability to crash reconstruction experts.
- If possible, note down any relevant info concerning the collision, which you can use while bringing your claim/suit. If you are incapable, assign someone else at the scene to do it for you. The details you need to note are:
- Name, license number, contact details, and insurance info of the motorist.
- The type, make, model, and license plate numbers of the vehicles involved in the crash.
- Location, date, and time where the collision took place
- Names & contact information of any eyewitnesses present at the scene
- The direction the involved vehicles were headed
- Notes from conversations with eyewitnesses
- Also, if you can, take pictures of the scene of the crash, including:
- Damage to involved vehicles
- Photos of the site from different angles
- Any feature on the roadway that could have contributed to the crash
- Your injuries
- Any close traffic signs/signals that are relevant to your case
- Keep a record of everything that happens around and to you after the crash, for instance, hospital visits, medical reports/ bills, lost wages or work, and financial records.
- Consult a lawyer before speaking to the insurance company of the at-fault party to protect your rights
How to Deal With Insurance Providers
You have to speak to a personal injury lawyer concerning the collision, injuries, property damage, and damages before talking to the insurance company of the at-fault party and the insurance adjuster. Often, insurance providers will seek to terminate your claim before you even determine the degree of your injuries. To protect your interests and rights, consult a lawyer, and let him/her negotiate with the insurance adjuster. It’s also critical that you know the errors you have to avoid when holding negotiations with the insurance adjuster. For instance:
Do Not Sign Medical Releases Too Early
You should delay the signing of medical release until nearly the end of your treatment. These statements enable you to access your medical records, and the insurance adjuster doesn’t need them during the initial stages of the case. Giving them the documents too early will lead to a smaller compensation amount. It’s more beneficial to keep the records up to the time your doctor will confirm that your health condition is good, and no future complications are likely to occur.
Don’t Give Irrelevant Details
Usually, insurers focus on finding irrelevant info they can use as a basis to reject your claim. Therefore, you should avoid telling them information about your friends, family, or current and past employers unless the info is helpful to your case. Information regarding your past medical conditions is also irrelevant. The adjuster may use it to annul your claim.
Don’t Settle Too Quickly
Usually, an insurance adjuster will exploit your need to settle the case quickly. Whereas you would want to avoid a long claim process, settling too fast doesn’t benefit you. At times, the degree of your injuries or damages becomes apparent later, and complications that stem afterward result in more medical expenses. Thus, settling too early could make you lose out on a higher compensation amount.
Don’t Give Them Recorded Statements
You aren’t under any legal duty to record any statement. The adjuster may request you to make what appears to be a simple written statement, and then use the info against you in an attempt to lower your settlement amount. If you have to record a statement, you should do so with your lawyer present.
Proving Damages after a Brake Failure Car Accident
At G. Dallas Horton & Associates, we will work closely with your physicians to ensure that your injuries are correctly documented. We will also review investigator and police reports and witness statements to look for proof that backs your claim.
After that, we will ensure we build and present a compelling case to the insurance adjuster. Just being aware that you’re willing to fight back is usually enough to compel the at-fault party’s insurance provider to assess your claim properly. If the insurance provider fails to reach the intended agreement with us and the case proceeds to trial, we will submit convincing proof, including:
- Official crash reports
- Video footage or photographs of the collision or its aftermath
- Therapist and doctor testimony
- Medical records, for instance, notes from the treating therapists and doctors, and x-rays,
- Eyewitness testimony
- Testimony of family members and friends to demonstrate how the crash has impacted your life
- If need be, the testimony of economic experts or vocational experts to prove how the collision has caused the loss of earning capacity.
- Testimony and documents that show lost income, for instance, employer testimony and pay stubs
Even if the defendant argues the low-impact defense (meaning that the accident was too insignificant to have resulted in your injuries), we can still establish fault by employing specialists such as a biomechanical engineer and crash reconstruction expert to analyze the accident scene and testify.
If you’re a brake failure accident victim, you may qualify to recover different types of damages. The only way you can recover these damages is by filing an injury claim or suit. Here are some of these damages.
Economic damages are also known as special damages. They refer to those damages awarded to compensate for the amount of money you lost because of the crash and the costs incurred from the property damage or injuries. Special damages can easily be quantified into actual financial losses. They include:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills, both present, and future
- Occupational and physical therapy
- Vehicle repair or replacement costs
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Legal costs
- Rental car expenses
- Costs of prescription drugs
- Travel expenses to doctor appointments
- Cost of household services
They are also referred to as general damages. These are those damages that can’t be quantified since they compensate for more abstract losses. General damages include:
- Pain & suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
Because mathematical calculations can’t accurately evaluate these damages, we strongly recommend that you seek legal assistance since an experienced attorney can help you obtain fair compensation.
You Can Also Get Punitive Damages
Nevada law allows courts to grant punitive damages in a car crash case. Punitive damages differ from compensatory damages meant to make you whole for losses like medical bills and lost wages. For punitive damages, they are awarded to punish the accused’s bad conduct and discourage others from acting similarly.
Generally, in Nevada, punitive damages do not go above:
- Three times the compensatory damages amount (if the awarded amount is $100,000 or higher), or
- $300,000 (in case the amount of the compensatory damages awarded is lower than $100,000)
However, note that these limits don’t apply if the crash was caused by a motorist who was stoned or drunk due to the voluntary use of drugs (even over-the-counter or prescription ones) or alcohol consumption.
Wrongful Death Claims
If the person you love passes away due to a car crash caused by brake failure in Nevada, you as the surviving member of the family can file a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. However, only specific parties are allowed by law to bring this kind of claim. They include:
- The children of the deceased
- The surviving domestic partner or spouse
- Parents of the dead victim if there’s no surviving child or spouse
- The personal representative of the estate
Other persons may be allowed to file a wrongful death claim if they can prove that they were financially dependent on the deceased when he/she was alive.
Damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death claim include:
- Reasonable funeral and burial costs
- Medical bills arising from the deceased’s final illness or injury
- Loss of affection, companionship, and care of the victim
- Property damage as a result of the crash
- Lost wages and benefits the victim would have earned if they had lived.
What If You Were Partially at Fault for the Collision?
Nevada follows the modified comparative negligence rule. By this, it means that you don’t have to be entirely faultless for you to recover damages in an auto accident claim or personal injury lawsuit. Provided the other party was even a little more to blame than you were, damages will be apportioned.
Consider this scenario: Let us say your compensation amount would have been $200,000 if the other party was entirely at fault for the crash. If the jury were to establish that the other party was 60% to blame and you were 40% at fault, your compensation amount would reduce to 120,000. Note that the modified comparative negligence rule will allow you to be compensated if only you are 50% or less at fault. If you are 51% or more at fault, you cannot bring an injury claim.
Our lawyers can dig through Nevada auto accident statutes to assist you in determining whether there’s a likelihood of recovering damages when you’re partially liable for a collision.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is the state regulation restricting the time frame within which a person can bring a civil suit against another person. The statute of limitations to file a brake failure car accident personal injury lawsuit is only two years. This period begins to run from the date the accident took place, or from the time you discovered or should reasonably have learned about your injuries. This aspect is critical to note since various injuries reveal themselves way later after a crash.
If you fail to file your lawsuit within the two years as we have mentioned, the defendant can use your delay in defending themselves against your case. Also, you will most likely lose the right to sue the at-fault party for compensation, and even if you do file your lawsuit, the court is likely to dismiss it.
However, there are exceptions where the statute of limitations can be tolled. This means that something has stopped the statute of limitation from running for a given period, and will only start running after that something is resolved. Situations that can lead to the tolling of a statute of limitations in car accident cases include:
- The accused has left the state. The statute of limitations to sue doesn’t run if the defendant is out of Nevada.
- The victim (which is you) is a minor below eighteen years old. In this case, the statute of limitations won’t begin to run until you turn eighteen years old.
- The court finds the victim to be mentally incompetent.
Hire a Skilled Car Accident Attorney Near Me
If you have sustained injuries in a brake failure car crash, having a personal injury lawyer that understands how complex injury laws are and is dedicated to fighting for your interests and protecting your rights makes all the difference. At G. Dallas Horton & Associates, we boast a seventy-year experience representing clients in Las Vegas in cases that revolve around personal injury, pain, suffering, and property damage after an auto accident. We have taken on challenging cases and managed to provide satisfactory solutions at the negotiating table with insurance companies or in court. If you have an injury case and need legal representation, call us at 702-820-5917. We are available 24/7 to offer our expert help.