Your Brakes Gave Out and Caused an Accident – What Now?
So, your brakes gave out, and you got into an accident. What should you do next? Getting into an auto accident is a scary experience. The experience can even be more traumatic when the reason is brake malfunction. In such a situation, you won’t be able to slow down; thus, any resulting crash will occur at high speed. As a result, you can cause severe injuries to yourself, other drivers, or even bystanders.
According to the NHTSA, brake failures accounted for up to 22% of motor vehicle crashes in the USA between 2005 and 2007. The current numbers are likely lower now, as modern cars have an advanced braking system that reduces the risk of failure. However, you can still find yourself in a situation where your brakes gave out, causing an accident. Should this happen, it is important to know your options.
As already mentioned, a car accident where the brakes gave out can be severe. In addition to any injuries and vehicle damage, you can find yourself in legal trouble. However, with the tips below, you can successfully navigate the situation.
Keep Calm and Assess for Injuries
The immediate moments after a car accident caused by brake failure can be terrifying. You can even find yourself disoriented after hitting something while driving at high speed. Additionally, such an accident is likely to result in an injury, which you might not realize immediately due to the stress and adrenaline. Therefore, you must calm yourself down and assess your body for injuries.
With so much adrenaline pumping through your body, you might find it hard to stay calm. As a result, you should try a few relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and counting to 10. Once your heart rate slows down, start assessing your body for injuries. Avoid moving from where you are unless necessary, for example, if your car is on fire.
Once you have established that you are not seriously injured, you can slowly move out of the vehicle to assess third-party damage. Carefully observe your surroundings to see if you have hit a passenger or another car. Likewise, you should assess any involved third parties for injuries they might have suffered.
If you or any third party have suffered any injuries, you should call for emergency services immediately. Calling for paramedic services is also wise even if there are no visible injuries – some crashes might result in hidden internal injuries that can be fatal.
Lastly, ensure you take note of any injuries suffered by yourself or other third parties. This is essential information you can relay to an auto injury attorney if you file a lawsuit or defend yourself from one.
Protect Yourself From More Harm
If the brakes gave out, causing an accident, your car might end up in a dangerous spot on the road. This can lead to an additional crash, harming you and other third parties involved. It might also endanger the lives of first responders arriving at the scene. Therefore, try and get yourself, and if possible, the car, out of danger zones.
However, don’t attempt to drive your car off the road – due to faulty brakes. Moving the vehicle after severe accidents involving other third parties is also unwise. Therefore, the best cause of action is to turn on your vehicle’s hazard lights. It would help if you also put reflective warning triangles or flares on the road to warn other drivers to slow down.
Get in Touch With the Police
You should not leave the scene after getting into an accident caused by faulty brakes. Instead, you should contact the police and request officers to respond, which is crucial if there are any serious injuries. Getting the police involved is also wise, even in minor accidents, especially when another third party is involved.
Once the police officers arrive, calmly explain the situation to the responding officers. Remember to mention the reason for the accident – the brakes gave out, as not doing this can lead to your claims being refuted later. However, do not admit guilt – such an admission can be used as evidence against you in any resulting criminal or civil trial.
Once the police arrive, note down the names, badge numbers, and contact information of all officers on the scene. In addition, you ensure you get a copy of the accident report from the investigating officer.
One thing to note is that police officers might not respond in case of minor accidents. Therefore, you must visit the police station or use online reporting services to report the accident. Such a report is vital as it will help you when filing an insurance claim for the accident.
Document the Scene and Collect Important Information
The accident report prepared by police officers will usually accurately describe the accident. However, it is always a good idea to document the scene to have your version of events. Therefore, after an auto accident where the brakes gave out, you should ensure you take pictures and videos of the scene. You should also note other important information such as third parties, their names, vehicle details, and registration, etc. It is also wise to record statements of any witnesses and their contact information. Afterward, you can present this information to your insurance agency or an auto accident lawyer should the need arise.
Besides documenting the scene, you should also exchange names, contact information, and insurance details with other involved third parties. Like with the police, you can mention to third parties and witnesses that your brakes failed, which can help bolster your claims later. However, never admit liability or discuss it with the involved third parties.
Likewise, you should refrain from apologizing for the accident, even if someone has been injured. This is because apologies can be taken as an admission of guilt during a civil or criminal trial. Furthermore, you are unlikely to know all the facts leading to the accident immediately after it occurs. Therefore, you could be apologizing for something that was not your fault or out of your control, leaving you in an awkward legal situation.
Call a Tow Truck
After an auto accident where your brakes gave out, you will need emergency towing to get your car off the road. Therefore, after the police have arrived and cleared the scene, the next step should be to call a towing company. If you have a roadside assistance plan, you only need to contact the service to have your car towed. Alternatively, the responding officers might call for a tow truck to move your vehicle.
However, when it comes to towing, you should be careful about any unknown towing company. You should also avoid using tow trucks that arrive on the scene without you or the police calling them. The reason for this is that there are many unscrupulous companies engaged in towing scams that target accident victims. Therefore, if you are not careful, they might charge exorbitant fees for their services.
Instead of just using any service, you should look up reputable car towing companies near the accident. You can also ask for suggestions from families or friends over the phone. Once the chosen company arrives, ensure they tow your vehicle to your preferred auto repair shop. In addition, remember to remove all your valuables from your car before it is towed.
Get a Medical Check Up
It is possible to escape an auto accident caused by brake failure without serious injuries. However, you should still visit a doctor for a thorough check-up immediately after. As already stated, some car crash injuries might be hidden – you might only discover them later. Therefore, visiting a doctor helps to guarantee your physical health.
The other advantage of seeing a doctor is that it can help bolster your claims when you file an insurance or personal injury claim. You can use the assessment by a medical professional as evidence of the extent of your injuries and show a link between them and the accident. This is especially crucial for injuries that worsen over time.
Contact Your Auto Insurance Agency
You also need to contact your auto insurance agency after being involved in an accident where your brakes gave out. Doing this will kickstart the process of any insurance claims you are going to make.
When speaking to your insurance adjustor, explain all the facts about the accident, including the brake failure. Also, furnish them with all the information you have gathered – the police report, involved third party’s information, and evidence you have documented.
Even when dealing with your car insurance agent, one thing to remember is not to admit or apologize for the accident. You should also not offer your opinion about the accident but state facts. Also, don’t inform them that you have not been injured, especially without getting a checkup from a doctor.
However, while protecting yourself is essential, you must cooperate fully with the insurance adjusters. For example, you need to be forthcoming about all facts. You also need to schedule an appointment for your vehicle inspection, which will help assess the damage sustained.
Get Your Car and Brakes Inspected
Your car insurance provider will most likely inspect the car to determine why your brakes gave out. However, hiring reputable automotive services to examine your vehicle and the brake system is also wise. Doing this can help establish fault, protecting you from criminal or civil liability.
After your car is inspected, you can expect several possible outcomes. The first is that you are liable, which can happen if you were negligent in maintaining or repairing your vehicle. However, if you were strict about your car maintenance, the fault might lie with your mechanic. This can happen if they were negligent in repairing or servicing your vehicle, for example, faulty installation of the brakes.
Besides you and your mechanic, the inspection can also find the brake parts manufacturer or the car dealer/manufacturer at fault. This can happen if the brakes used in the car are defective, which is what led to their failure.
Schedule Repairs for Your Car
If you are involved in an accident where the brakes gave out, your car will need repairs and maintenance. Therefore, after having your vehicle inspected by an insurance adjuster, you should look for a certified technician that offers car brake replacement services. To prevent another accident, you should also ensure that your new brake parts are from a reliable manufacturer. Additionally, you should keep up with all the required brake inspection schedules.
Depending on the accident’s severity, you might also have to schedule other additional repairs. For example, your car might require windshield replacement if it was damaged during a crash. You might also need repairs for frame damage, alignment issues, tire damage, light damage, etc. Be sure to have all these issues fixed before putting your car back on the road.
Get in Touch With a Lawyer
You will most definitely need to talk to an attorney in an accident where the car brakes gave out. If you were at fault for the accident, you would need to speak to a car accident attorney to protect you from any possible lawsuits. In a worst-case scenario, you might even need to hire a criminal attorney due to severe injuries or the death of a third party.
A lawyer will also come in handy if a third party was negligent in the accident. For example, you can file a complaint against your mechanic, brake parts manufacturer, car manufacturer, or dealer if any of them were at fault for injuries sustained. It is also possible to sue other third parties involved in the accident. For example, even with your brakes failing, you could crash into a car that ran a red light, thus putting the other driver at fault.
An attorney is also essential when filing insurance claims or personal injury claims. These are both complex legal processes that might require negotiation. As a result, it is better to have a lawyer who can easily navigate them.
You can find yourself in a challenging and confusing situation after a car accident where the brakes gave out. Besides the damage to your vehicle and your injuries, you can also injure other third parties and damage their vehicle or property. It is also possible to cause death if the accident is severe. Knowing what to do in such a situation is thus very important. With the above tips, you will be able to navigate the aftermath of an accident with ease. You can also protect yourself if you are at fault or know when to file appropriate claims if another person is negligent.