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Is Avoiding Car Maintenance a form of Negligence?

Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC

Sometimes, it’s easy to tell who is at fault in a car wreck. Someone runs a red light, stops too late, speeds, or commits a similarly obvious wrong. Sometimes, however, there might be extenuating circumstances that affect a car wreck. A driver follows the speed limit and brakes on time, but the road is wet. Through no fault of their own, their tires receive poor traction, and they hit someone else.

The driver of a broken-down jalopy may attempt to make the same claim. “It’s not my fault,” they say. “The car doesn’t run very well.”

Claims like these can pull on your heartstrings. This person cannot afford a better car, and you might perceive them as trapped in a bad situation. Legally, however, this is a dangerous assumption.

Drivers have a responsibility to keep their vehicles operating safely. Doing otherwise is a form of negligence.

Driver Liability in the Courtroom

Civil court revolves around the concepts of negligence and liability. Liability refers to someone’s responsibility in a situation, and negligence points to their failure to meet that responsibility. For example, drivers have a responsibility to obey traffic laws. If someone runs a red light, they were negligent in meeting that responsibility.

The same principles hold true for car maintenance. Knowingly driving with bad breaks, bald tires, poor steering, and so forth makes someone liable in court. It may be true that the driver did their best to avoid an accident. However, the accident would not have happened if the car functioned properly. This wreck is that driver’s fault. With enough evidence, you could prove this in court and be compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.

Badly Maintained Vehicles and Insurance Claims

Oklahoma is an at-fault state. When someone causes an accident, their insurance company is responsible for covering the other driver. Regular maintenance is part of that driver’s responsibility. If someone fails to maintain their vehicle and causes a wreck, they are considered at fault by an insurance company’s standards.

Getting Help from a Lawyer

Establishing fault in a car accident can be tricky at the best of times. When poor vehicle upkeep causes an accident, it becomes even harder. Often, it turns into a case of “he said/she said.” An attorney can dive into the details of the case, investigating the history of the car. They may be able to uncover a lack of routine maintenance on the part of the at-fault driver.

Physical evidence at the scene of a crash can support a poor maintenance claim. For instance, the shape, condition, and color of tire marks may reveal neglected, bald tires. If the tires are in good shape, the length of the tire marks could indicate when the brakes activated. This evidence could show that the brakes were faulty. Perhaps the driver slammed the brakes at the appropriate time, but the evidence reveals that the brakes did not activate until much later. With a good investigation, your attorney can quiet the “he said/she said” of the events, revealing the truth.

If you were hurt in an accident with a poorly maintained car, contact our office for a free consultation. We can be reached online or at (918) 347-6456.

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