Vehicle Maintenance as a Factor in Car Crashes
In some cases, the careless or negligent act that causes an auto accident occurs long before the at-fault driver sits down behind the wheel. The right to own and operate a motor vehicle on Florida’s public roadways carries with it numerous obligations. In addition to an obligation to behave reasonably while operating a vehicle, the privilege of driving also carries with it the obligation to maintain the vehicle in a reasonably safe condition. When an unsafe vehicle suddenly fails on the road, it is all too often another driver or passenger who pays the price.
An increasing number of states have dropped their former requirements that private vehicles obtain an annual inspection for safety and roadworthiness. Florida joined them in 2000 and since that time no longer requires Florida-registered private passenger vehicles to be inspected. However, this does not mean that Florida is a free-for-all when it comes to vehicle safety. Drivers can still be cited for failing to maintain their vehicles to state standards and poor maintenance can still be a basis for civil liability following an accident involving:
- Improperly inflated, bald or otherwise excessively worn tires
- Worn out or malfunctioning brakes
- Nonfunctioning lights and indicators
- Missing mirrors
- Nonfunctioning or ineffective windshield wipers
- Malfunctioning safety devices
When a person takes to the streets in an unsafe and poorly maintained car, it is more than his or her own life that is at risk. His or her passengers as well as the occupants of other vehicles and pedestrians are also in jeopardy. If it appears that the unsafe condition of an involved vehicle brought about a serious accident, the driver or owner of that vehicle may be liable for the resulting harm. An experienced Florida motor vehicle accident lawyer can examine all the facts to determine what theories of liability are available.