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Determining Liability for a Crash Caused by Poor Vehicle Maintenance

Posted on behalf of Anderson Cummings on May 20, 2022 in Auto Accidents

Broken tail light on a pickup truckVehicles need to be kept up to certain road safety standards to prevent collisions. The responsibility to do so usually falls to the owner of the vehicle. However, there are other parties that may bear some liability if poor vehicle maintenance results in a crash.

Below, we discuss how liability is determined for an accident caused by negligent vehicle maintenance.

If you have questions regarding your rights following an accident, call our Fort Worth-area auto collision attorneys today to discuss your claim. There are no upfront fees and no obligation to take legal action.

How Does Poor Vehicle Maintenance Impact Road Safety?

There are a variety of components on a vehicle that, if not properly maintained, could cause a collision. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Tires – It is important that a vehicle’s tires are routinely checked to ensure air pressure and tread are up to road safety standards. Both low and excessive tire pressure in a tire could cause a blowout that could result in a crash.
  • Lights – Headlights, taillights and brake lights are all important vehicle components and should be checked often. Broken or faulty lights make it difficult for other drivers to spot a vehicle, especially if driving at night or in low-visibility conditions.
  • Brakes – Failure to check a vehicle’s brake pads for wear and tear could be extremely dangerous as this is one of the most important safety features in a vehicle.
  • Steering – It is not uncommon for the steering wheel in a vehicle to become misaligned, especially in older models, so it should be regularly checked and maintained.
  • Fluid Levels – Checking the oil, brake and power steering fluid in a vehicle is important, but so is making sure a vehicle has enough gas. A car that runs out of gas on a roadway could be as dangerous as one with a blowout.

The Texas Transportation Code requires all vehicles to undergo inspection to ensure road safety. Failure to keep a vehicle up to code could result in fines and other legal consequences, including financial liability for damages if a collision occurs.

Who is Responsible for Vehicle Maintenance?

Generally, the owner of a vehicle is responsible for the routine maintenance of a vehicle. This includes getting a vehicle’s tires rotated, oil changed and filling the gas tank. The owner also has an obligation to take the vehicle in for servicing when an engine check light comes on, or if some other issue arises that he or she cannot do alone.

If a vehicle owner fails to maintain his or her vehicle in a reasonably safe operating condition, he or she could be held liable for damages caused by a crash.

Dealership or Rental Car Services

If a vehicle belongs to a dealership or a car rental shop, then responsibility for its maintenance falls to these companies. Especially if a vehicle, or one of its parts, is recalled. There are laws that require vehicle rental facilities to remove recalled vehicles from their lots until the recall issue is resolved.

The dealership or rental company could be liable for your damages if you are hurt in a crash with a vehicle that had a recall defect, but the company that owned it failed to address the issue.

Commercial Vehicle Companies

A vehicle that is used for business purposes must also undergo routine maintenance, such as a commercial truck, van or bus. The company that owns the vehicle could be financially liable for your damages.

What if Routine Maintenance Was Done Poorly?

When the maintenance of a vehicle is not done properly, liability could fall to the party that conducted or supervised the work.

For example, if the vehicle was taken to a repair shop to have a tire replaced. If the shop leaves a loose bolt on a tire after changing it, and that leads to an accident, the repair shop could be liable for the crash.

What if the Vehicle Had Defective Parts?

If a defective part on a vehicle is to blame for an accident, then liability could fall to the manufacturer. Especially if the part was changed while the vehicle was undergoing routine maintenance. The vehicle owner might not be liable for damages because there was due diligence in getting the vehicle serviced. The repair shop might also be able to dodge liability if it was not aware of the defect in the product.

Call a Licensed Attorney

Determining liability for an accident caused by a poorly maintained vehicle may be complex. Our experienced attorneys are prepared to help you through the legal process.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your claim. There are no initial costs and we do not get paid unless you do.

Call (817) 920-9000 to get started.