Last Update: 01/17/17
When you get behind the wheel of a car here in South Florida, you have a duty to drive as a reasonable and prudent person. Drivers are expected to drive without distractions, within the speed limit and with the basic knowledge and awareness of Florida’s driving laws.
However, the owner or operator of the vehicle has duties that go beyond how the driver operates the car. There is also a legal duty to operate a motor vehicle that has been properly maintained and repaired. If you are driving a car that has not been properly and reasonably maintained, and your failure to maintain the vehicle contributes to a car accident, then you may be liable for a victim’s injuries based upon a claim of negligent maintenance.
What Are Some Common Failures in Car Upkeep That May Rise to a Negligent Maintenance Claim?
Any experienced personal injury lawyer will tell you that there are certain parts of a motor vehicle that are vital to safe and effective driving on Florida roads; if a driver operates a car, truck, SUV, or minivan, or any type of commercial vehicle, with any of these components not being trustworthy or totally in failure, then the driver risks, if there is a crash, being held liable for negligence maintenance:
Headlights, brake lights, and turn signals are all important for driving in traffic here. Not having working brake lights, for example, is an easy invitation to a rear end collision.
Newer model vehicles may have a dashboard light that warns the driver of a lamp failure; however, many cars and trucks on Florida roads today do not have this type of warning system and the driver is responsible for walking the vehicle and making sure that all the lights are in working order before taking the vehicle on the road.
Brake pads don’t last forever and brakes need periodic upkeep and repair. Especially in situations of heavy traffic or where someone is driving at high speed, brake failure can cause serious and fatal traffic accidents, including rear end crashes.
Signs that brakes need repair or attention include a squealing sound as you brake the vehicle; the feeling of slipping or a loose pedal as you try to brake; or if it’s taking longer for you to stop the vehicle now that it used to do.
Horns are warning devices that don’t get much thought until a driver really needs to get someone’s attention. Horns can be life-saving devices and their failure can be the cause of severe injuries particularly in pedestrian accidents or bicycle – car crashes.
In Florida, vehicle horns are by law required to be “… in good working order and capable of emitting sound audible under normal conditions from a distance of not less than 200 feet,” if they are vehicles that may be driven on a Florida highway. See, Florida Statute 316.271. This includes motorcycles.
4. Windshield wipers
South Florida gets lots of rain and we can find ourselves trapped in highway traffic or on rural roads where severe rainfall makes visuals of the surrounding area almost nil. Wipers help drivers see in these big storms, and the failure to have working windshield wipers makes that driver at a dangerous risk of a car accident.
Depending upon use and wear, you may need to replace windshield wipers as often as every 6 months.
5. Seat belts
Seat belts save lives. There is one danger when someone intentionally decides not to wear a safety belt; it is another problem altogether when someone is driving or riding in a car where the seat belts don’t work. Florida law requires the driver and the passengers to wear working seat belts under the Florida Safety Belt Law.
Many people take their tires for granted. Some understand that worn tires are dangerous and if the treads of a tire are not able to grip the road securely as the vehicle rolls along, then there is a risk of losing control of the car or truck and crashing. This is particularly true when the roads are wet from rain or oil drops left by car traffic.
However, underinflated tires are also a big danger. If your tire, however new it may be, does not have sufficient air pressure in it, then the vehicle is a danger to drive. Tires without enough air in them can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle and crash.
It’s easy enough to check air pressure in your tires here in Florida: the local Discount Tire store offers air checks to everyone for free.
What Should You Do?
If you have been harmed in a car accident caused by an at-fault driver’s negligent maintenance, a good piece of advice is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover (damages can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more). Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
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- Was Your Car Accident Caused by a Bad Road Design or Flawed Maintenance?
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.
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