Who May Be Liable for an Accident Caused by a Poorly Maintained Vehicle?

rusty old carBeing a responsible driver is about more than your actions while you are behind the wheel. You also have a responsibility to maintain your vehicle and make sure it is safe to drive. For example, you shouldn’t be on the road with malfunctioning brakes or broken taillights.

If a vehicle maintenance issue contributes to a crash, the driver of the vehicle is likely to be held liable for damages. Sometimes there are other parties besides the driver who may be liable for negligent maintenance, like repair shops or car dealerships.

If you were injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligent actions, you may be able to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages. Call our Sacramento auto accident lawyers today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options. We do not charge you anything up front, and there are no fees unless we win.

When a Vehicle Owner is Liable

California’s vehicle code has various regulations for safety features vehicles should have. While this code mostly applies to commercial vehicles and buses, there are some regulations that apply to personal vehicles. For example, California’s cracked windshield laws prohibit drivers from operating a vehicle on a highway when the windshield or rear window is in such a defective condition that it impairs the driver’s vision through either the front or rear window.

Owners who fail to assure their vehicles are up to California’s code of safety standards may be held liable for damages if an accident occurs.

Aside from windshield maintenance, vehicle owners are also responsible for the upkeep of:

  • Oil
  • Gas
  • Tires
  • Brakes
  • Coolant
  • Taillights
  • Headlights
  • Brake fluid
  • Brake lights
  • Turn signals
  • Power steering
  • Windshield wipers

If a vehicle breaks down on the road, has some sort of equipment dysfunction or is bellowing smoke and an accident occurs, the owner of the vehicle is most likely going to be liable for any damages that collision caused. This is true whether the person driving the vehicle was the owner or just someone who borrowed the car.

When a Repair Shop Can Be Liable

In Sacramento, owners are not permitted to conduct anything more than minor repairs on their vehicles in their own homes, including in their garage or driveway. Minor automotive repairs include brake replacement, minor tune-up, oil changes, flat tire repair, lubrication and other similar operations, according to the county zoning code.

Due to this county code, owners must take their vehicles to a repair shop to maintain them. In doing so, they are entrusting the mechanics at the shop with the responsibility of doing repairs correctly and ensuring the vehicle will be safe to drive.

However, sometimes mechanics may be negligent and leave a nut or bolt in a tire loose or make some other mistake that could lead to an accident. If this happens, the repair shop could be held liable for damages if the injury victim can prove negligence.

When a Dealership or Vehicle Rental Shop Can Be Liable

There are federal laws regarding recalled vehicles being barred from retail at a car dealership or a vehicle rental lot.

If a dealership or rental car company has vehicles on their lot that have an active recall, the vehicles must be immediately removed from the lot until the recalled part is fixed to avoid anyone buying, leasing or renting that car.

If a dealership or rental car company allows someone to buy, lease or rent one of these recalled vehicles and it causes a crash that results in an injury, the place that sold or rented the vehicle may be held liable for damages.

When the Manufacturer May Be Liable

Manufacturers are known to make mistakes. That is why vehicles are often recalled. Most recently, vehicles with some autonomous functions have been recalled for certain issues.

When a manufacturer fails to disclose problems with a car that could be corrected, the manufacturer may be held liable for damages if an accident occurs.

Need Help Filing a Claim? Call Us Today

Liability for poorly maintained vehicles comes down to who acted negligently. In most cases, the owner of the vehicle is the liable party, so victims may be able to file a claim with the vehicle owner’s liability insurance.

Sometimes other parties may be liable, which is why it is important to allow an experienced attorney to help you through the process of filing a claim.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options and do not charge you anything up front.

Call 916-777-7777 to learn more.