One of the most critical features in your motor car is the brakes, and this explains why you should inspect them regularly to check for issues that require fixing. Failure to conduct regular inspections can result in hazardous brake failure and a common cause of car accidents. Nonetheless, you can play your role of inspecting and fixing brake issues and still be involved in an auto accident due to defective brakes. In these cases, you will not be the person to blame because the failure was unforeseen. The parties to blame will be the auto repair shop conducting maintenance or car or auto-parts manufacturer.
If you sustain injuries in a Nevada car accident caused by defective brakes, the law allows you to file an injury tort against the liable parties. Handling a compensation claim alone is not a piece of cake because insurance adjusters work hard to deny claims or award minimum compensation. Because of these schemes by insurance companies, the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm is ready to help you identify those responsible for your injuries and seek maximum compensatory damages in Las Vegas.
General View of Brake Failure in Car Crashes
There are several ways defective brakes can cause car accidents. The crash can result from defective emergency brakes, parking brakes, shift interlock failure, or faulty power brakes. The brake pads can also harden or experience total hydraulic system failure. When brakes fail because of manufacture or design defects, the law allows you to pursue compensation. Besides, you could go after the auto-repair shop responsible for maintenance if the brake failure was caused by poor maintenance.
Seeking compensation is not an easy step. First, you must identify the liable party because you will not obtain any compensatory damages when you sue the car manufacturer while the person responsible for maintenance is to blame. Finding the right defendant is the first step towards obtaining optimum compensation. However, this is not going to be easy.
Additionally, you must demonstrate the correlation between the defective brakes and the car accident, which is not obvious. You will require a personal injury attorney to investigate the facts, identify the right defendants, and present evidence to show the relationship between the faulty brakes and the accident.
At the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm, our profound litigators have the skills and resources to investigate the case’s facts and how your injuries occurred. We will collect the necessary evidence through independent investigations and make assertions that will increase the chances of a favorable settlement.
Injuries Stemming From Brake Failure Car Crashes
When you realize your car is experiencing brake failure, your options are limited, and an accident is imminent. If you have some time before the accident, you can slow the vehicle down by engaging the parking brakes. Alternatively, you can drive on the shoulder, although this elevates the risk of a rollover and is not applicable in an urban setting.
Eventually, when the car crashes, you and other accident victims sustain severe injuries when the car crashes because the vehicle is usually at high speed. The common injuries you sustain from these kinds of crashes are:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head injuries
- Facial injuries
- Fracture bones
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Several parties could be held accountable when defective brakes cause a car accident. From your side, you can argue that you had no way of knowing whether the brakes were faulty and you could not control them, and therefore, are not to blame for the crash. Sadly, Nevada laws place responsibility on you as the driver to ensure the brakes are in good condition. Therefore, even if the auto repair outlet in charge of maintenance did not identify the defect, you will still be responsible because you have a duty to identify these faults. Other parties that could be blamed for the crash are:
1. Car Dealership
When identifying the party to blame for the accident, you should start with the car dealership. Although you will hardly notice defects after you have purchased a car, it can still have existing problems in the braking system or other parts only that they have not been noticed. You can sue the dealership for your injuries if faulty brakes cause an accident before or after you have arrived home. You can file a strict liability, faulty parts, or negligence tort. Additionally, if there is proof the dealership was aware of the faulty brakes when they sold the vehicle, you can file an injury claim. Nonetheless, you must present sufficient evidence to prove they were fully aware of the defaults when selling the vehicle.
2. Car or Brake Manufacturer
The car or brake maker can equally be responsible for the accident. Your attorney must conduct investigations to establish whether the brakes or the car’s braking system were adequately tested and proved before being released to the market. You can sue the vehicle manufacturer for brake failure under the following circumstances:
- If they poorly designed the vehicle resulting in defective brakes
- When multiple cars by the manufacturer have the same braking system defect because of substandard design
When manufacturers learn of a common default in a line of vehicles, they usually recall them and correct the defects before releasing them back to the market. Failure to correct these defects after learning about them is what attracts personal injury claims against these companies.
If you are suing the manufacturer, you must prove that:
- Their negligence led to a hazardous condition of brake failure
- The accident stemmed from the defective brakes
- The vehicle has not been interfered with after leaving the mechanic’s or manufacturer’s hands
3. The Mechanic
The person in charge of vehicle repairs can be sued if they failed to identify a brake defect or made a mistake during repairs that led to the crash. Proving the mechanic is responsible for poor maintenance because of insufficient evidence. Usually, you or the mechanic can take up the fault when there is inadequate documentation of the repairs.
4. Car Driver
The other motorist could also be blamed for the accident even when it was caused by brake failure. Nevada laws set safety standards that all cars must adhere to, including ensuring the vehicle’s parts are functioning normally. Therefore, when the motorist causes an accident due to defective brakes, you can hold them liable for the accident because of creating unsafe conditions in the road. Also, if they failed to take the vehicle for maintenance or servicing as required and ended up with faulty brakes that caused an accident, they should be held liable.
When the other driver is the at-fault party in the accident, the law requires that they cover all the costs associated with reckless driving. They will try anything possible to avoid covering these costs, including denying responsibility for the accident. They will argue that there is nothing they could have done about the defective brakes because they were not aware the brakes would fail and therefore unable to prevent it.
Nonetheless, the driver will have a challenge proving they are not accountable for the accident because of their responsibility. The only way the driver can prove they are not liable for the accident is if they can demonstrate the main cause of the brake failure. Besides, they need to show the car did not have any signs of brake failure, which would have triggered them to take action to resolve the problem. If there is nothing to demonstrate the driver knew of the defects in the braking system, they will not be liable. Again, if the vehicle had recently gone for maintenance, they would be innocent.
As the plaintiff, you have the burden of proof in these cases. With the help of your attorney, it is up to you to prove that the driver owed you a duty of care but breached or disregarded this duty causing your injuries. Further, you must show the breach of duty was the direct causation of your injuries, and it is for the harm sustained that you seek damages. If you successfully prove these elements, the court will compensate you for the losses.
Nevada Car Accident Negligence Laws
Nevada adopts the at-fault doctrine when it comes to car accidents. Negligence laws apply, and the party that owed the other a duty of care to prevent an accident often takes the blame. The liable party’s insurer is the one that should compensate you for the losses.
When establishing fault in these cases, the evidentiary standard that must be met is that of a preponderance of the evidence, which means that it is more likely than not the defendant caused the accident.
Nonetheless, when both parties share equal negligence, or you are more liable for the crash than the defendant, you will not be eligible for reimbursement because of the modified comparative negligence rule adopted in the state. When several parties are liable for an accident, NRS 41,141 requires the parties to be assigned liability based on their percentage of fault in the crash. Under this system, you can only claim damages if the other party is at least 50% responsible for the crash. Further, even if you obtain reimbursement, the damages will be reduced by your portion of the fault in the accident. Assume you were 10% responsible for the crash. In these circumstances, your damages will be reduced by ten percent.
Timeline for Filing a Claim
It is worth noting that you only have two years after the crash to file a petition. Besides, the clock can start ticking from the date the injuries were discovered where you experienced delayed symptoms after the accident. However, the law allows for the suspension of this statute of limitation if time ran out while you were outside Nevada. Also, if the liable party is a citizen of a country currently at war with the United States of America, the time is paused until the war is over. Again, if you were a minor at the time of sustaining the injuries or mentally incompetent, the law allows the tolling of the statute of limitations.
Action to Take After a Brake Failure Accident
The action you take after the accident plays a critical role in the number of damages you will obtain. Some of the steps you should take after the crash include:
- Reach out to the authorities or call 911 to request emergency medical personnel
- Look for speedy medical attention, regardless of the injuries sustained. Do not assume that you have not been injured because there are no visible injuries. Some injuries are not noticeable immediately and only manifest after several days, which could be fatal. Also, failure to seek treatment will give the insurance provider a reason to deny your claim.
- When the police arrive at the scene, file a report about the crash with them but avoid any self-incriminating statements.
- When possible, jot down relevant info about the accident, including the name, contact info, license plate number, and driver's insurance info. Additionally, note down car type, model and make, date, time, and location of the accident. You can even note down your car's direction because the details will be crucial to the case.
- Talk to eyewitnesses at the scene and write down their statements. The statement must be accompanied by their signature, name, and contact info. That way, if your attorney needs more information from them, it will be easy to track them down instead of when you do not have contact information.
- If possible, you should take pictures and record video clips of the scene from several angles. These will help show the debris on the road and damages sustained on the vehicles involved in the crash. Also, you should take pictures of your injuries and any road signs close to the scene.
- Keep proper records of the medical report, bills, financial records, lost wages, and the pain experienced due to the crash. These will act as crucial evidence during the claim.
- Finally, before you report the accident to your insurance company, speak to our personal injury attorney to protect your rights and interests.
Dealing With Your Insurance Company
Most personal injury cases are settled out of court. After an accident, the liable party’s attorney will try to contact you to obtain an out-of-court settlement. They reach out pretending to have your best interest, but they aim to deny your claim or offer the least settlement. Therefore, before you speak to these providers, consult with your injury attorney first for legal guidance. The attorney will negotiate with the insurance adjuster to ensure you do not fall prey to their schemes. Any attorney will help you avoid mistakes that adjusters exploit to deny claims.
One common mistake you should avoid is not to give a recorded statement. You are not under any legal obligation to do so unless your attorney is present. An adjuster will use the information in the statement against you, resulting in damage reduction or denial.
Similarly, do not be hasty to sign a medical release because they can be used to reduce your compensation. You should only sign when your doctor informs you that you have recovered and will not require future medical treatment. You will keep track of all your medical records, thus obtaining maximum compensation.
Furthermore, you should not divulge any information irrelevant to the case because it could be used to reject your claim. Do not share information about your family, relatives, or employer with the insurance provider because it is unrelated to the case. Details about your medical history are irrelevant to the case and, therefore, should not be disclosed.
Lastly, do not opt for the first settlement offer because it is never the best deal. The problem with an early settlement is that new evidence about the injuries or damages can be discovered later when you have already settled the case, missing out on maximum reimbursement.
The Process of Claiming Damages
At the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm, we try our best to prevent a jury hearing on the case by negotiating the best settlement. Our attorneys follow the steps discussed below to obtain the most favorable outcome:
Preparing the Case
Even though these cases rarely proceed to court, your attorney should prepare as if it will end up in trial. Case preparation involves drafting the necessary paperwork and preserving all the evidence that will help establish the validity of your claim.
When the liable party is evident in the brake accident claim, their insurance provider will immediately reach out after the accident is reported. Nevertheless, both parties take time to evaluate the case and the evidence to ensure that no crucial evidence is missed. Therefore, the discovery stage is when all parties establish the case’s facts and the best course of action based on the evidence.
Also, your attorney determines the amount of compensation to pursue in the case at this stage. Again, the defense team will have the time to evaluate the facts of your case to be fully prepared when entering the negotiation stage.
Jotting Down the Demand Letter
Negotiations will commence once the defendant receives a letter explaining your case’s rationale for the damages you seek. The insurance adjuster will respond to the letter within 14 days, agreeing to the demand or giving a counteroffer.
You will then receive a reservation of rights letter that the adjuster evaluates your demands and will not settle if the policy in question does not allow it. The letter aims to compel you to accept their small offer or receive no pay.
Informal conversations with the defense team can help achieve a settlement. Negotiations are strategic, and your attorney will tactically release information to the defense to maintain the advantage. The defense will dispute some of the claims to reduce the compensation you seek. The discussion will not end in a single meeting, and it heavily depends on the negotiations skills of your attorney.
When formal discussions between the opposing sides fail, your attorney can opt for face-to-face mediation. You and the defendant will have a meeting where a mediator facilitates negotiations.
Appending Signature in the Settlement
When negotiations or mediations succeed, the attorney will append their signature on the settlement. However, it only becomes official after being written down, and all parties are allowed to sign. Do not sign the agreement if your attorney has not confirmed all that has been agreed upon is included. Once you have signed, a copy will be sent to the judge, settling the case.
As a brake failure victim, you are eligible for several damages. The damages are categorized as follows:
1. Economic Damages
Also called special damages, these seek to compensate you for the money lost due to the brake failure car accident. They include:
- Legal costs
- Lost income
- Car replacement or repair costs
- Medical costs both current and future
- Travel expenses during visits to the hospital
- Occupational and physical therapy
- Lost earning capability
2. General Damages
Otherwise called non-economic damages, general damages refer to losses that cannot be quantified or lack dollar value. Some of them include:
- Pain and anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Emotional distress
- Permanent scarring
You cannot quantify these damages, but an experienced attorney can evaluate the case and seek fair compensation. For this reason, you must hire an attorney for your case.
3. Punitive Damages
On top of special and general damages, Nevada courts can award punitive damages as punishment to the defendant and serve as a lesson to others likely to act in the same manner.
It is worth noting that the amount of compensation is capped at thrice the compensatory damages if they are at least $100,000 or up to $300,000 when the total compensation is no more than $100,000.
Find the Right Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
After a brake failure car crash, you need an injury attorney who understands the extent of your injuries and is willing to protect your rights and interests for the best outcome. At Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm, we have handled multiple cases like yours in Las Vegas. Therefore, if you plan on seeking compensation, do not hesitate to call us at 702-576-0010 to speak to one of our profound injury attorneys.