Who is Liable For an Accident Caused by Poor Vehicle Maintenance?

Operating a vehicle responsibly involves more than just obeying traffic laws. As a driver, you also have a duty to properly maintain your vehicle and ensure it is safe to operate. For instance, your vehicle should not be on the road if it has a broken brake light or the brakes are malfunctioning. If poor vehicle maintenance causes or contributes to an accident, the driver is most likely liable for any damages. In some circumstances, however, another party could be held liable for negligent maintenance, such as a dealership or repair shop. If you were injured in a car accident resulting from poor vehicle maintenance, you might be eligible to receive financial compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, and other damages. Call the experienced Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free consultation.  

When is the Owner Liable for Vehicle Maintenance?

Virginia’s vehicle code has multiple statutes pertaining to the safety features of vehicles. While many of them apply primarily to commercial vehicles, there are a fair few that apply to passenger vehicles. For example, the state’s cracked windshield law prohibits the operation of any vehicle where the driver’s view is obstructed. Vehicle owners who fail to ensure that their vehicle meets Virginia’s safety standards could be held accountable for damages should an accident occur.

Owners are also responsible for the maintenance of their vehicle’s:

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

If a car has smoke coming out of it, has a mechanical failure, or breaks down in the middle of the roadway, and an accident takes place, the vehicle’s owner is almost certainly going to be responsible for any damages arising from a preventable accident.  

When is a Mechanic or Repair Shop Liable?

When vehicle owners take their cars to a mechanic or repair shop for maintenance, they trust the technicians to properly assess and repair the vehicle and make sure it is safe to operate. Unfortunately, mechanics are sometimes negligent and can overlook a mechanical issue, fail to properly secure a tire, or make some other error that could result in a serious accident. If this is the case, the mechanic or repair shop can be held liable for any injuries provided that the victim can establish negligence. 

When is a Car Hire or Dealership Liable for Vehicle Maintenance?

Federal statutes bar recalled vehicles from being sold or rented by car hire companies and car dealerships. If either of the businesses has vehicles under an active recall, they must be promptly taken off the lot until the issue that created the recall has been addressed. This ensures that no one rents, leases, or buys a defective vehicle. If a car hire company or a car dealership allows a customer to rent, lease, or buy a recalled vehicle and it leads to an accident with injuries, the company that rented or sold the vehicle could be held liable.

When is the Manufacturer Liable?

Auto manufacturers are not immune to making mistakes, which is why vehicles are frequently recalled. Although the list of manufacturer recalls is extensive, some of the most recent involve problems with autonomous functions. When a manufacturer neglects to warn consumers of potential problems with a vehicle that could lead to an accident, they might be held liable if an accident happens.

Were You involved in a Car Accident?

If someone else’s negligent vehicle maintenance caused your car accident and injuries, contact the qualified Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp. We have been delivering successful case results to Virginia car accident victims since 1985, such as the $1 million insurance settlement we obtained for a client who was injured by another driver’s negligence. To schedule a free consultation, call (833) 997-1774 or fill out the contact form on our website. We have offices in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Hampton.