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Have you ever stopped to think just how much trust you give your vehicle’s brakes every time you drive? Brakes are one of the first lines of defense in collisions as they are what prevents our vehicles from slamming into another vehicle, pedestrians or other objects. Unfortunately, one of the most valuable safety features on our vehicles may also be the cause of a catastrophe. In fact, brake failure can lead to some of the more severe accidents on the road. These accidents are rare and account for approximately 5% of car accidents per year.
One of the best and most obvious ways to avoid a crash is a reliable brake system. Keeping up with the maintenance of your brakes is crucial for your safety, along with the safety of everyone around you. While brake maintenance plays a significant role in preventing brake failure, in some cases, braking systems may not function how they should, or worse, may not function at all. Such failures may be the result of poor designs, defective products, or shotty repairs. Unfortunately, this type of negligence increases the chance of a collision involving severe injuries and may even be fatal.
How do brakes operate?
All drivers and even many who have never been behind the wheel understand that we press down on the brake pedal to completely slow down or stop a vehicle. However, most of us do not understand how this happens. A vehicle’s brakes depend on various components working perfectly in sync.
- First, the pressure from pressing down on the brake pedal transmits to the brake lines, containing brake fluid.
- Next, the vehicle multiplies the compression force to the relative force required to slow the vehicle.
- The brake fluid then transmits the pressure to the brake pads and causes friction.
- Lastly, the brake pads’ force will cause the tires to transmit the force of friction to the asphalt or other surface and bring the vehicle to a stop.
Without a properly functioning brake system, a vehicle has the potential to wreak devastation. For example, without proper brakes, vehicles can crash into other vehicles on the road, hit innocent pedestrians, and damage other property before it comes to a complete stop.
What causes brake failure?
When brake failure occurs, it often happens suddenly and without warning. Different circumstances can cause defective brakes, including design defects or manufacturing defects. Many times, design and manufacturing defects go unnoticed until a tragedy has already occurred. If this is the case, an entire line of vehicles is equipped with defective brakes. This is very alarming when you consider that potentially thousands of vehicles may be on the road with defective braking systems.
There are two major reasons design defects come about. First, there are times when manufacturers try to cut corners in acquiring parts for the brakes. For example, they may reuse worn-out parts or could acquire low-quality parts. Furthermore, manufacturers may fail to properly test a part to ensure the effectiveness of the brake design.
Examples of a design defect include the following:
- Hydraulic lines that are susceptible to leaks
- Calipers that crack
- Brakes that overheat
- Antilock brake system failure
- Defective parking brake
Improper manufacturing is also a cause for defective brakes. Before the brake installation, a designated manufacturer supplies brakes to the automaker. For instance, the manufacturer may neglect to install an important part of the brake system. In other situations, poor craftsmanship or defective material used in creating the brakes could also be the cause of a manufacturing defect.
Examples of a manufacturing defect include:
- Improperly installed discs
- Improperly installed hydraulic lines
A brake service mechanic error can also play a role in brake failure if they did not install a part of the brake system properly.
Other causes of brake failure
There are several other reasons your vehicle’s brakes can fail. For example:
- Imbalanced or unsecured loads
- Improper maintenance of brakes
- Ignoring manufacturer recalls
- Leaking hydraulic lines
- Badly built drums or rotors
- Malfunctioning brake shift interlock device and components
- Driver error
- Premature lockup
- Break line defects
Who is responsible for collisions involving defective brakes?
In cases where a vehicle’s brakes were incorrectly manufactured or installed, the manufacturer could be held liable for your injuries. Manufacturers are expected to take the proper precautions to ensure that their products are safe for the public. Unfortunately, despite strict regulations, innocent people are seriously injured and killed due to defective brakes.
In situations where brake failure took place because a mechanic improperly installed the brakes, the injured parties may collect damages from the mechanic or body shop the mechanic works for.
If the brake defect is because of the design, a third-party manufacturer that designed the brakes could be held responsible.
When preventable brake issues cause collisions due to negligence, anyone who was injured may be eligible to file a claim. The purpose of the claim is to hold the party who was responsible for your injuries accountable. You may be able to recover from pain, suffering, past and future medical expenses and more by having a Brake Failure Lawyer in your corner.
Watch for these brake system failure warning signs
Fortunately, some signs can point towards brake failure and serve as a warning to the driver before the unthinkable happens. Keep the following warning signs in mind:
- Unfamiliar noises. If you tap on your brakes and hear a high-pitched squealing noise immediately after, you must have your vehicle checked by a mechanic before it is too late.
- Irregular movements. If you stop and suddenly feel your vehicle pull hard to the left or right, one side of your brakes are working correctly, and the other isn’t. Brakes that pulsate before they function are also an indicator that you should have your brakes looked at by an expert.
- Failure to stop quickly. An increased stopping distance indicates an issue with your brakes.
- Brake warning lights. Many of us are guilty of putting off addressing a warning light that displays in our vehicles. These obvious warnings are there to protect us. Handling warning lights as soon as possible helps prevent your vehicle from being the cause of a brake failure collision.
How to react to brake failure
It can be a terrifying and dangerous situation if your brakes cease to function while you’re driving. A million thoughts may run through your head but try your best to stay calm, focus on the road and promptly take action. If your brakes fail, the following actions will keep you and other motorists on the road safe:
- Alert other drivers by activating your hazard lights and honking the horn.
- Begin slowing down by taking your foot off the accelerator; signal properly and carefully maneuver your vehicle into the right lane or shoulder. Be sure to watch for other drivers.
- Downshift to let the engine help slow the vehicle.
- Only if your vehicle has anti-lock brakes, you want to press down firmly on the brake pedal. If your car isn’t equipped with this safety system, pump the pedal instead.
- Once your speed has decreased, engage the parking brake slowly and gradually. If you do this too quickly and with too much pressure, you risk your wheels locking up.
How The Carlson Law Firm can help
Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we understand that where human error is responsible, there can be many contributing factors that led to your injuries. In such cases, more than one party may be held liable. Our goal is to seek maximum compensation from all parties that attributed to your injuries and losses.
If defective brakes caused you harm, let us analyze your case and investigate the cause of your brake failure collision. We have a team of attorneys, nurses and on-staff investigators who will work tirelessly to hold the responsible party accountable. If you suspect brake failure led to your injuries, don’t hesitate to discuss your legal options with a Brake Failure Attorney at The Carlson Law Firm. Our goal is to get you the compensation you deserve and ensure you receive the medical treatment required for your recovery. We care. We can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.