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Who is Responsible for an Accident When the Brakes Go Out?

BrakePedal

Car crashes happen for many different reasons. There are obvious reasons, such as distractions, alcohol or drug impairment, or just plain carelessness. But there can also be fairly innocent reasons, like bad auto brakes or defective equipment. So, what happens if the other driver claims he or she hit you because the brakes went out? Is this still negligence? The answer is usually, yes.

Florida Law Imposes a Duty on Drivers to Maintain Working Brakes 

Under Section 316.261 of the Florida Statutes, all drivers are required to keep their vehicles in reasonably safe operational condition. The law says that a vehicle owner must make sure that their vehicle is:

“… equipped with service brakes adequate to control the movement of and to stop and hold such vehicle under all conditions of loading, and on any grade incident to its operation.”

As you can see, the law imposes a strict obligation on vehicle owners to maintain their vehicles in a safe manner. If the brakes are defective, then it is generally considered the owner’s fault, unless there is clear proof to the contrary (i.e. vandalism, etc.).

What About Other Defects or Malfunctions? 

The same generally holds true of lights, windshield wipers, speedometers, and so forth. For instance, Section 316.220 of the Florida Statutes requires that all vehicles have working headlights. Other sections of the Vehicle Code require things like working tail lights. For just about every type of safety or operational feature of a car, there is a vehicular code section designed to make sure that drivers and owners take care to make sure their vehicles are safe to be operated on Florida highways and roads.

Does a Traffic Violation Mean I’m Automatically Entitled to Recover?

Not exactly. If you are injured by another motorist in Florida, generally each party’s own car insurance will cover the injuries. This is the so-called “no fault” rule. If the injuries are severe and exceed the value of the no-fault insurance (called “personal injury protection”), then you may have a right to pursue a claim against the person who caused the accident. You can do this by filing a claim with their insurance company. If the insurance company declines coverage and refuses to pay, then you may have to sue the other driver.

Getting Help From an Experienced Florida Injury Lawyer 

At Roman & Roman, P.A., we’ve spent decades fighting to protect injured Floridians who are seriously hurt or killed by negligent or careless drivers. If you or a loved one have been hurt in a car accident, contact us to speak with someone today. Time is limited, as you only have a short period of time to bring your claim. The longer you wait, the harder it can be to recover. Wait too long, and your claim could be forever barred. The call is free, and there is no charge unless we succeed at getting compensation on your behalf.

Resources:

leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0316/Sections/0316.261.html

leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.736.html

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