Talk to a driver who crashed into another car, an object, or even a person and you’ll often hear the same claim: “I lost control of the car.” Even when the statement is true, it is often said in an attempt to disclaim responsibility. It is, quite simply, an excuse. As an experienced Oakland car accident injury lawyer, Attorney Gregory Brod understands that losing control of a car is typically the result of a prior action (or inaction) by the driver; meaning that the driver is indeed at-fault and can be held liable for the resulting collision. In some cases, the loss of control excuse may also point to other liable parties and other possible sources of compensation for someone injured in such an event.
The “Why” – What Caused a Loss of Control
A section of the How Stuff Works website addresses the question “How do you stop an out-of-control car?” In the process of answering that question, the site also points to the reasons behind a loss of control, dividing the triggers into two main categories: Equipment/Mechanical issues and Weather/Road Condition problems.
– Mechanical and Equipment Issues
A range of mechanical/equipment problems can eventually lead to a driver losing control of the vehicle. Two sides of the same coin, brake failure and unexpected acceleration both take away the driver’s control and make stopping extremely difficult. Like other mechanical problems, both are often signs of a poorly maintained vehicle. When a driver ignores required maintenance (ex. failing to replace brake pads, change old tires, or maintain fluid levels), the driver is exhibiting a knowing disregard for safety. Drivers know or, at the very least, should know that driving a poorly maintained vehicle puts everyone on the road at risk. This failure to use ordinary care often amounts to negligence and can render the driver liable for an accident and resulting injuries or property damages.
A loss of control may also be the result of a defect in the vehicle or one of its parts. In some cases, compensation for injuries due to such defects may be available via product liability law.
– Road Conditions & Weather-Related Issues
Sometimes drivers point to road conditions, including those caused by inclement weather, as the trigger that caused them to lose control of their vehicle. In some cases, these accidents tie back to the failure to maintain a working vehicle. For example, a court may find the driver liable to an injured victim when the driver’s car skidded and evidence shows the skid occurred because the driver failed to maintain sufficient tire tread.
In other cases, a driver loses control in bad weather or on a tricky roadway because the driver did not exercise the level of care called for by the conditions. For example, a reasonable driver would proceed well below the speed limit when driving at night in a severe rainstorm. While there are cases in which a driver did everything reasonably possible, many times a loss of control is actually a sign of negligent operation, not an excuse.
As discussed in prior blog entries, in other cases where road conditions caused a loss of control, there may be municipal liability. These cases are complex, but it is a route worth exploring in appropriate circumstances.
Turning Excuses Into Compensation
The key lesson in this post is that a statement such as “I lost control of the car” or “The crash was beyond my control” is not the end of the inquiry – it is just the beginning. While intended as an excuse, the claim can actually help point to the action or inaction that gives rise to liability. If you are injured in a crash and suspect someone else is at fault, do not accept excuses from the individual or an insurance company. Instead, call any of our Northern California injury law offices for a free consultation with our experienced plaintiffs’ attorney.
See Related Blog Posts:
Fatal Single-Vehicle Crash Serves as a Reminder of the Threat of Dangerous Road Conditions