Car Accidents Caused by Improper Maintenance
All drivers in California have a duty to maintain their vehicles in a safe condition so they do not pose an immediate hazard to the public. When vehicles are not properly equipped or maintained the driver may lose control of the vehicle due to a defective condition and thereby cause a car accident. If a car accident is caused by a defective condition that the driver knew or should have known of, the driver’s failure to maintain their vehicle in a safe condition may constitute negligence, and ultimately hold the driver liable for damages to injured car accident victims.
Knew Or Should Have Known Of A Defective Condition
Again, the test of whether a defective condition which causes a car accident is attributable to negligence for failing to keep the car in a safe condition is dependent upon whether the driver knew or should have known of the defective condition. A driver is generally not responsible for knowing of defective conditions that are not readily visible, such as interior mechanical failures that cause a car accident where no other symptom gave the driver advance warning of the unsafe condition. However, drivers do have an obligation to perform a reasonable inspection of their vehicles for defective conditions. For instance, if the car’s brakes feel sticky when pressed, the driver is on notice that something is wrong and has a duty to perform a reasonable inspection to identify the defective condition. Furthermore, in that case the driver “should know” that a defective condition exists, and may be held liable in the event he continues to operate the vehicle resulting in injury due to brake defect. However, where the driver is not likewise “on notice” of a defective condition via a symptom, the driver is only obligated to perform a reasonable inspection, not an exhaustive, intrusive, or comprehensive one. For example, California drivers are not obligated to disassemble their engines every week to check for mechanical defects as that level of inspection exceeds what is reasonable under routine circumstances.
Drivers Are Ultimately Responsible For Maintenance
Many people are surprised to learn that even if their mechanic failed to spot a hazardous condition on their car, they are still liable in the event the defective condition results in a car accident. California law holds the duty to maintain ones vehicle in a safe condition as “nondelegable” (meaning that it cannot be shifted to the mechanic). Even if a mechanic is negligent in failing to identify a hazardous condition which renders the car unsafe to drive, and even if that failure to identify the hazardous condition results in a car accident causing injury to others, the car owner is still held responsible for the accident.