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Car Accidents Caused By Mechanical Failure

mechanical failure

“Under the hood”by cbowns is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Mechanical failure can lead to serious car accidents. Additionally, they can act as a contributing factor that may lead minor accidents into major disastrous events. Examples of mechanical malfunctions include

  • brake failure,
  • broken airbags,
  • airbags that injure,
  • defective tires,
  • defective accelerators or
  • seat belts that don’t work.

For example, seat belts that doesn’t work can be dangerous to everyone. It can affect the driver and the passengers in the car. Defective seat belt may fail to tighten appropriately or could unlatch unexpectedly.

If you are hurt in a car accident due to a mechanical malfunction, you have the option to sue the manufacture or the seller of your vehicle to recover for damages. Generally, if it is a design defect, then it may affect the entire line of products. However, if a manufacturing defect occurred during the construction or production, then that usually effects just one your car.

Determining the Cause of a Mechanical Failure Accident

Each state has specific rules for how to determine the cause of an accident. However, generally, an experienced personal injury lawyer, like the attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. will look at how the owner has treated the car and if the manufacturer knows of any issues.

First, the vehicle owner may know about underlying problems that involved repairs by a mechanic. Drivers may know of issues beforehand but either cannot afford to fix them, cannot restore them or refuse to repair the issue. Due to knowledge and action that directly result in traffic incidences, the driver or owner can be held at fault. If an owner or mechanic fails to fully repair a car, liability may lie with the owner and the mechanic. However, if the defect affects the vehicle, the manufacturer could be at fault. An attorney will look into the recall history for the vehicle and also investigate unknown defects. In these instances, the driver or mechanic may not know about the problems.

Depending on the state, strict liability may apply for mechanical failure accidents. Under the strict liability theory, a plaintiff must prove that a defective part left by the manufacturer or seller was created an unreasonably dangerous condition. Unreasonably dangerous means that the product presents more danger that expected by the ordinary consumer. The plaintiff must also prove that the defendant caused the accident.

In other cases, an accident victim may need to show negligence. Under the negligence theory, the injured victim must show that

  • the defendant owed a duty of care,
  • the defendant breached its duty of care,
  • actual and proximate causation, and
  • that the victim suffered from actual damages due to the breach.

Generally, negligence theory may be harder to prove then strict liability.

What Are Mechanical Failures You Should Watch For?

Examples of mechanical failures that you can solve for your own vehicle can include:

1. Brakes
When brake pads begin making noises or no longer function at full value, replace  them.

2. Tires
Experts recommend getting new tires every six years. If you hit curbs or potholes or have bumpier roads, have professional inspect them on a regular basis.

3. Windshield Wipers
Replace your windshield wipers every six months to a year. If they begin to streak or leave areas full of water, you may need to replace them!

4. Head Lights
Foggy head lights can lead to dangerous driving . Many cars have sensors to detect out lights. But also check them once a week for your own safety.

5. Steering
If you steering wheel appears to vibrate or lock, report this during your maintenance checkup. A professional can diagnose the problems.

By carefully maintaining your vehicle, you can help your car remain safe.

Why Should I Hire An Attorney?

If you have been injured by a car accident caused by mechanical failures, you may need to hire an attorney. The attorney will most probably retain an expert to investigate. The expert could testify about the design defect or manufacturing defect that may have caused the accident. Also, they would present to the court the alternatives to that design that could make the vehicle safer. This could involve forensic evidence of the vehicle and the accident.

Experienced personal injury lawyers like the attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. have knowledge in motor vehicle accidents and product liability. When you meet with an attorney, an injured victim should share information about the case. This would include the suspected cause of the accident, any acts leading up to the accident and the injuries you sustained in the accident. For a free consultation, call the attorneys today at (847) 357-0403

New Distracted Driving Law in Illinois

distracted driving

Using electronic devices while driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Recently, texting has become the most common cause of distracted driving accidents. A U.S Department of Transportation 2015 report shows the danger. Distracted driving crashes caused 3,5000 fatalities and about 400,000 injuries.

According to the CDC, 1/3 of drivers from the age of 18 and 64 read emails and text while in traffic. From 2011 to 2015 the electronic device related accident spiked from 50,000 to 70,000.

Unlike increased DUI penalties, the number of car accidents has not dropped. Official believe that distracted driving accidents have filled the gap.

Distracted Drivers in Illinois

The Illinois Department of transportation observed 33,666 drivers in a recent study. The study showed 3.9% of female drivers used a hand-held electronic device. Additionally, men used their devices more often (10.2%).

The study also showed, that the city of Chicago at 17.6% had the highest diver electronic device use compared to upstate counties such as DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will and Winnebago at 12.6%. The downstate counties had the lowest amount of usage.

Comparing Distracted Driving to DUIs

In an experiment conducted by Car and Driver magazine, sober drivers who text or read emails while driving take longer to react to an alert than drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08. In some instances, device-distracted driving is more dangerous than DUI.

Increased Penalties in Illinois

Illinois has imposed stricter penalties starting in July 2019. Drivers caught texting and driving will face stricter penalties for violating the law. The penalty could lead up to judge’s suspension of the violators license. This puts Illinois in line with other states taking this danger seriously. For example, in California, they ban all talking, texting and the use of any handheld phones while driving.

The new law goes in effect on July 1, 2019. The law states that anyone who illegally uses a handheld electronic device while driving will get a ticket for a moving violation.  Cristina Castro, Elgin Democrat, says the penalties under the old law has not done enough to deter the drivers from using electronic devices while driving. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, in 2017, 9% of Illinois drivers were observed to be using electronic devices while driving. In the same year, police issued 35,036 tickets for texting or talking while driving.

The new law plans on only changing the penalty under the old law. The old law implemented in 2014 is still intact. The ban under the old law is:

  • Using the speakerphone while holding a cellphone is a violation of the law
  • Use of hands-free devices or Bluetooth technology is allowed only for people older than 18.
  • Drivers may use handheld cell phones only to report an emergency, while parked on the shoulder of a road or if the vehicle is in park or neutral while normal traffic is obstructed — such as at a stoplight or train crossing.
  • Headsets — other than a single-sided headset or earpiece — are prohibited.

It is legal to press a single button to start or end a phone call.

Have a Safe Spring on Your Motorcycles

We have had a short spring. Although spring officially began on March 20, the thermometer remained in winter mode. What happened to the April showers, green landscape, and blossoming flowers? And now, it seems like summer will begin!

For example, on April 9th, 2018, the Chicago Cubs opening day was postponed due to snow covering Wrigley Field. But two days later, sunshine and the 60s greeted the Chicagoland area.

Houses and cars could finally begin to turn the heat off and open the windows. Bikers uncover their motorcycles and hit the road. According to Statista’s 2016 survey, there are a total of 314,807 motorcycles registered and traveling on Illinois roads. While enjoying this weather with a fun, relaxing ride may seem like the most logical thing to do. But avoid having a motorcycle accident. Remember these important safety tips when hitting the road. [Read more…]

April Showers Can Bring a Flash Flood

flash flood

Of course, April showers bring May flowers. But when that rain comes, we can also get flash flooding near the Des Plaines River and the Fox River. Although home damages are terrible, we forget about what to do if we are on the road during one of these storms.

Flash Flood Warnings

If the National Weather Service issues a Flash Flood Warning for your area, follow these steps:

  • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately!
  • Get out of areas that are subject to flooding. Move to a safe area before flood waters begin. Stay away from low spots.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
  • Do not drive if it is not necessary. Check out the steps to follow if you are on the road.
  • Do not try to walk, swim, or play in flood water. You may not be able to determine if there are holes or submerged debris, or how quickly the water is flowing, and you may be swept away. If water is moving swiftly, as little as 6 inches of water can knock you off of your feet! There is also a danger of hazardous materials polluting the water. Also remember that water is an electrical conductor. If there are power lines down, there is a possibility of electrocution.

Turn Around – Don’t Drown

A flash flood is the number one weather-related killer in the United States.

Pay attention to barricades.

If officials have set up barricades to stop you from driving down a road during a flash flood, don’t ignore them by driving past them.

Do not drive through standing water on roads or in parking lots.

The average automobile can be swept off the road in 12 inches of moving water. Additionally, roads covered by water are prone to collapse. If you attempt to drive through water, you may stall your engine. And this can cause irreparable damage to your car and you will not be able to restart the engine.

If you come upon a flooded street, take an alternate route.

Take extra precautions if you’re forced to drive through water.

Only take these steps if you have no other option.

  • Estimate the depth of the water in a flash flood.
  • Drive slowly and steadily through the water.
  • Avoid driving in water at all if you see downed electrical or power lines.
  • Watch for items traveling downstream — they can trap or crush you if you’re in their path.
  • Before entering the water, test your brakes to see if they are wet and slipping. Dry them first by pressing gently on the brake pedal with your left foot while maintaining speed with your right foot.
  • Stay alert. Stay off your cell phone unless you must report severe injuries.
  • If your vehicle stalls in the deep water, you may need to restart the engine to make it to safety. Keep in mind that restarting may cause irreparable damage to the engine.
  • If you can’t restart your vehicle and you become trapped in rising water, immediately abandon it for higher ground. Try to open the door or roll down the window to get out of the vehicle.
  • If you are unable to get out safely, call 911 or get the attention of a passerby or someone standing on higher ground so that they may call for help.

This spring, stay safe when strong rains come and bring potentially dangerous flash floods.

Illinois Stoned Driving

Joint stoned driving
On July 30, stoned driving became a possibility. Illinois became the twenty first state to decriminalize marijuana. Governor Bruce Rauner signed a law decriminalizing possession of ten grams of marijuana or less. Along with decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, the new state statute also defines driving under the influence of marijuana. Many people think that this change in the law is very positive since someone who used marijuana weeks prior to being pulled over could test positive and face misdemeanor charges and other fines. According to many defense attorneys and other specialists, the old testing styles led to wrongful convictions. [Read more…]

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

About Ron

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