Determining Liability for a Car Crash Caused by Faulty Brakes in Massachusetts

We often see car accidents where one driver claims his or her brakes failed and that caused the crash. These are typically in rear-end type crashes. The general presumption in rear-end accidents is that the tailing vehicle is liable for the crash. But, what about when the tailing driver claims his or her brakes suddenly failed, and they couldn’t stop their car? Does that relieve them from liability?

For example, in a recent case our office handled, our client was injured in a rear-end accident in Marlborough, Massachusetts. The other tailing driver claimed that his brakes failed and that he was not responsible for causing the accident. Ultimately, the other driver was found at fault despite his claims that it was the failing brakes and not his driving that caused the crash.

Determining Liability in Massachusetts Rear-End Crashes

In Massachusetts, if you are injured in a car accident you may be entitled to financial compensation for your damages and injuries. But, one hurdle that you must overcome before determining how much compensation you may receive is that of liability.

In law, generally, liability is the state of being legally obligated or responsible for an act. The act in personal injury cases, including motor vehicle accidents, is usually something a driver did or did not do that caused an accident and injuries to another person. The standard used to determine who was at fault for causing the accident is negligence.

Negligence generally means careless or unintentional conduct that falls below the standard of care expected of a reasonable person that results in harm or damage. In automobile accidents in Massachusetts, a driver of a car that is determined to have been negligent will be held liable for causing a car accident and injuries to another person. The legal standard is that the driver’s negligence must be more than 50% at fault for causing the crash to be held liable.

Will a Tailing Driver be Held Liable if his Brakes Failed?

Like most motor vehicle accidents, there are many factors that must be evaluated in determining who was at fault for causing a car crash. In Massachusetts, however, with rear-end collisions, the operator who collides with the rear of another car is presumed to be more than 50% at fault for causing the accident. What about when a driver claims their brakes failed? Are they still at fault for a rear-end accident?

Generally, the answer to this question is yes. A driver and their insurance company may claim that the brake failure was unexpected and unforeseeable and, thus, they are not responsible. But, this defense does not usually relieve a driver of responsibility.

Sometimes, a driver who claims their brakes failed may have been following the other vehicle too closely or driving too fast for the traffic conditions. In that case, even if the brakes truly failed, that driver would be found legally liable for caused the accident because of his or her carless operation of the vehicle.

In other cases with failed brakes, a driver and/or registered owner of a car may also be found liable for an accident due to a lack of maintenance or failure to repair their brakes. Registered owners of vehicles have a legal obligation to make sure their vehicles are in a reasonably good and safe condition. This applies to determining that the brakes of a car are in good working order. A reasonably cognizant driver would have or should have realized that their brakes were not working properly. If the brakes were not working well, then the registered owner or driver of the car may be held negligent for injuries caused in an accident for breaching their obligation to have the brakes repaired.

Speak with an Experienced Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been seriously injured in an accident and the other driver or his insurance company maintains that it wasn’t his fault because of failing brakes, you should contact an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney.

The Framingham personal injury attorneys at Mahaney & Pappas, LLP offer complimentary consultations where we will evaluate your case and provide you with a fair valuation of your accident claim. We offer contingent fee agreements on car accident cases, which means you don’t pay us anything unless and until we get you the money you deserve for your injuries.

If the other driver is responsible for causing your injuries you deserve to be fairly compensated for your injuries and damages. You shouldn’t settle for less.  

To speak with someone on our legal team or to schedule your free meeting, please call (508) 879-3500 or contact us online

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