There are a wide array of ways that an auto accident can happen. There are intersection collisions involving turning vehicles. There are rear-end accidents. There are lane change accidents, and sometimes there are flying wheel accidents. In one recent case in which a wheel became loose and fell off a car and struck another vehicle, the courts concluded that the injured driver could pursue liability claims against both the auto shop that worked on the car and the driver who was operating the vehicle when the wheel came off. The case is a useful example of how a claim can be made because of an improperly maintained car.
The facts of the accident were somewhat unusual. The plaintiff was driving northbound on Interstate 190 in Buffalo when her vehicle was involved in an accident. In the collision, the plaintiff’s car was affected not by another vehicle but by a wheel that had flown off a vehicle traveling in the southbound lanes.
Obviously, wheels typically do not simply fly off vehicles that are in perfect condition. When a circumstance like this happens, the injuries you suffer in an accident may necessitate pursuing legal action against multiple defendants. These may include the driver of the other vehicle, the owner of the other vehicle (if that’s someone other than the driver), and the person or entity that repaired or maintained that vehicle.
In this case from Buffalo, the plaintiff wisely did exactly that. She sued the auto shop that worked on the vehicle, but she also sued the driver of that vehicle. The auto shop conceded the issue of its liability. The other driver, however, did not. She argued that she could not be liable to the plaintiff because she was not negligent “and that her conduct was not a substantial factor in causing the accident.”
The courts, however, disagreed with the defendant. Contrary to her arguments, the defendant was potentially negligent and therefore liable to the plaintiff. That’s because New York law is clear that vehicle owners and drivers have a legal duty to inspect their vehicles, to discover any problems with the vehicles, and to correct any such defects. Even though the defendant didn’t do her own vehicle maintenance, the law says that she was obligated to check out her car, to spot problems like the wheel issue, and to rectify defects.
Defendants may be able to avoid liability if they can prove that the circumstances that caused the accident were entirely outside their control. The defendant in this case made an argument like that. The argument did not succeed, however, since the plaintiff had evidence that placed this issue in dispute. The defendant argued that “there was nothing that she could have done” to avoid the accident. However, other testimony from the defendant indicated that she sensed that there was something wrong with her car but, in spite of that perception, kept driving down the interstate anyway, instead of promptly pulling over to the shoulder and stopping. By failing to stop and check on her vehicle, the defendant was potentially negligent and liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.
An accident caused by another driver’s improperly maintained vehicle may present you with some unique challenges, but it may also present unique opportunities to obtain compensation for the harm you suffered in the accident. To learn more about the options available in your case, talk to the New York City car accident attorneys at the law offices of Jacob Oresky. Our team has spent many years representing people injured in accidents throughout the New York metro area, including in Westchester County and on Long Island. Our representation provides our clients with the benefit of extensive experience, keen skills, and personalized attention and service.
For a free case evaluation, contact us online or call our office at 718-993-9999. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
More Blog Posts:
Rear-End Accidents and Securing Favorable Litigation Outcomes in New York, New York Accident Lawyer Blog, June 21, 2017
Hurt in a Car Accident—Seek Compensation, Regardless of Legal Status, New York Accident Lawyer Blog, May 25, 2017