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Who May Be Liable for an Accident Caused by Negligent Vehicle Maintenance?

It is important to ensure a vehicle’s safety before you take it on the roads. As the operator of the vehicle, it is your responsibility to ensure that the vehicle is in proper working order and functioning as intended before you start driving.

However, if vehicle maintenance causes your car accident, you may be wondering who is responsible for your damages. You might be surprised to learn that multiple parties could share fault. Some of these parties include the owner of the vehicle, repair shops, vehicle manufacturers, rental car companies, and motor vehicle dealerships.

With multiple parties potentially responsible for causing your damages, figuring out who is at fault could be difficult. Thankfully, when you have a Virginia car accident attorney handling the legal details of your case, you can establish fault and recover your damages in full

Vehicle Owner Liability

All motorists have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their vehicles. There are many local, state, and federal laws in place that require vehicles to have specific features that can protect passengers and motorists alike.

One example is the cracked windshield laws in the state of Virginia. Here, drivers are barred from operating motor vehicles that have defects in their front or rear windshield. If someone operates a vehicle with a cracked windshield or rear window, they could be held liable if they are involved in an accident and someone suffers injuries.

However, windshield maintenance requirements are not the only type of maintenance vehicle owners are required to keep up with. Some other important maintenance responsibilities include:

  • Brake fluid and lights
  • Power steering
  • Oil
  • Gas
  • Tire quality and pressure
  • Windshield wipers
  • Vehicle turn signals
  • Tail lights
  • Coolant

When a vehicle malfunctions, breaks down, or otherwise causes an accident due to negligent vehicle maintenance, the vehicle owner will almost certainly be named liable for the injuries and damages that occur. 

It does not matter whether someone else was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident. The owner of the vehicle is responsible for these types of maintenance and can be held accountable accordingly.

Repair Shop Liability

Although vehicle owners are often held accountable for injuries and damages that occur when their poorly maintained vehicles cause accidents, they are not the only party who can be liable. In fact, vehicle repair shops are often named in car accident claims.

Automotive repair shops are prohibited from doing any repairs in their own homes, including their driveway or other properties. This typically does not include minor types of repairs such as oil changes, changing a flat tire, brake replacement, or getting a tuneup.

However, maintenance and repair shops have an obligation to ensure that vehicles that are brought to them are repaired and safe to drive. If repair shops or maintenance workers make mistakes, use malfunctioning  parts, or are otherwise found responsible for a vehicle’s maintenance issues, they can be named in the car accident lawsuit when you seek compensation for your damages

Car Rental Company and Motor Vehicle Dealership Liability

Rental car companies and motor vehicle dealerships can also be sued if they are found in violation of state or federal laws or allow vehicles that have active recalls to be rented or sold. 

Rental car companies and dealerships have an obligation to ensure that vehicles are in safe and working condition when they are sold or rented to consumers. Vehicles must be removed from the lot until repairs or recalls are addressed. This prevents anyone from renting, leasing, or purchasing a vehicle that may not be safe for the roadways.

Vehicle Manufacturer Liability

Vehicle manufacturers can be sued when auto parts are defective or malfunction in some way. When manufacturers make mistakes with vehicles, the vehicles or their respective parts can be recalled. 

This commonly occurs with new safety features, autonomous functions, and other car troubles. If a vehicle manufacturer fails to disclose issues, this manufacturer, parts designers, retailers, and other parties could be named if you are seriously injured in an accident.

However, car accidents due to manufacturer defects are rare. To prove the manufacturer is liable, there has to be a clear link between your accident and the manufacturer defect. 

Commonly, when a manufacturer finds a defect with their vehicles they will issue a recall notice and reach out to drivers multiple times. If a known defect caused a car accident and the driver ignored the recall notices, then the manufacturer may not be liable.

Contact Parrish Law Firm to Understand Accident Liability in Virginia

Car accident and personal injury claims ultimately rely on establishing liability to determine negligence. If poor vehicle maintenance caused your car accident, figuring out who is responsible for the poor vehicle maintenance will be essential. 

Our attorneys will carefully evaluate the circumstances of your case to determine fault and get the most out of your claim. Contact the car accident lawyers at The Parrish Law Firm, PLLC to find out what’s next for your case.  Schedule your FREE claim review by calling us today.

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