Car Owners Have a Responsibility to Maintain Their Vehicles
Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Phoenix, AZ
Many car accidents are not caused by immediate driver negligence (i.e., distracted driving), but instead by system issues, such as malfunctioning brakes. In such cases, though it may seem that the driver or owner is not responsible, that is not necessarily true.
Cars must be properly maintained by their owners, lest they develop issues that could expose others to an unreasonable risk of injury. Owners must adhere to this duty. Failure to properly maintain a vehicle — when it contributes to an accident — entitles the injured car accident plaintiff to compensation under Arizona law.
Questions? Contact us at Hirsch & Lyon to learn more about how we can help.
Owners Tend to Shift the Burden of Responsibility
How parties act during personal injury litigation can be confusing for first-time plaintiffs, but in truth, one must consider that the defendant(s) are acting in accordance with their “survival instinct.” Unless you can clearly establish that the defendant is not only liable, but liable to the specific degree that you are asserting, their instinct will be to minimize or avoid that liability by shifting the burden to another party — in the car accident context, that burden-shifting may be from the vehicle owner towards the mechanic shop.
For example, suppose that you are injured when the defendant’s front tire suddenly blows out, causing them to lose control of their vehicle and slam into yours. You sustain significant injuries as a result. In the ensuing litigation, the defendant claims that they are not responsible for the losses at-issue, since it was not their negligence that led to the collision. Instead, they argue that the mechanic should be held liable for failing to properly service the vehicle, which would have prevented the accident.
Depending on the circumstances, it is not particularly damaging to your claims for at least some of the fault to fall on the mechanic — after all, they are likely to have more significant liability insurance coverage.
Breaking Down the Case
What determines the distribution of fault in a car accident dispute involving improper maintenance?
Owners are not expected to have professional skill or training with respect to understanding mechanical issues. Still, they can be held to the standard of a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances. For example, if the owner of a vehicle is driving around on a flat tire, they should be aware of that and seek the assistance of a mechanic (or change the tire themselves).
In more complicated situations, such as engine trouble, the owner may not know how to fix it, but can be held liable for failing to seek the assistance of a professional mechanic. Once the car has been brought to a mechanic, then the mechanic can be held liable if they do not adequately perform such maintenance.
Contact Hirsch & Lyon for Immediate Legal Assistance
Here at Hirsch & Lyon, our attorneys have extensive experience representing car accident plaintiffs in challenging litigation, including disputes that involves claims arising from the unreasonable risks posed by a poorly-maintained vehicle. Car accident litigation may seem straightforward at first, but the dispute can become quite complicated when new and complex issues are brought to the fore (i.e., distribution of fault among multiple defendants, understanding the impact of inadequate maintenance, etc.). Fortunately, we are well-equipped to successfully guide plaintiffs through a wide range of motor vehicle disputes.
As a firm, we have chosen to exclusively handle motor vehicle litigation. This specialized focus has — over many decades — helped us to develop competitive insights into what is necessary to secure a favorable result, even in cases where the defendant is hostile, or where the legal issues are not straightforward.
Ready to move forward with your claims? Call us at 602-535-1900 or send us a message through our online form to arrange for a free, confidential, and no-obligation consultation with a skilled Phoenix car accident lawyer at our firm.