Motor Vehicle Accidents: Can You Be Blamed If Your Car’s Safety Features Fail?

Many of today’s motor vehicles are loaded with dozens of safety features. Lane change assistance, rear end collision warning systems, and back up cameras are standard in many makes and models of cars. These safety features are helpful and prevent many accidents. However, what if these safety features fail? Or, what if you turned off some of these safety features in your car? What if you are involved in an accident? Will you be able to assign any liability to the motor vehicle manufacturer?

Legal claims that result from motor vehicle accidents are negligence claims. There are specific elements that must be proven in negligence claims. These elements are:

  • The at-fault driver owed a duty to the victim;
  • The at-fault driver breached the duty with a negligent act or omission;
  • Due to this negligence, the victim was injured.

On public roadways, all drivers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and other travelers have an obligation to act reasonably under the circumstances. What is reasonable depends on the weather, traffic conditions, and a number of other factors. For example, it would not be reasonable to drive 60 miles an hour down a small neighborhood road. It would not be reasonable to text while driving. It would not be reasonable to ride a bicycle down a busy interstate.

Damages include medical bills, lost wages, the cost of any future medical care that may be necessary, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other expenses related to the accident. Depending on how serious the accident is, damages may reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If a driver was depending on a car’s safety feature at the time of the accident—and that feature malfunctioned, which led to the accident—the driver may have a difficult time holding the vehicle manufacturer liable for the accident. Most vehicle manufacturers warn drivers that they need to be aware of their surroundings at all times. Drivers should not depend on lane change assistance technology, for example, and fail to check a blind spot before moving into another lane. Accident victims may be able to argue that this is a type of negligence, because a reasonable driver would have checked a blind spot—even with lane assistance technology—before making a lane change.

The same argument applies if the driver turned off the safety feature. Turning off a safety feature does not automatically make the driver liable for the accident. Again, if the driver failed to check a blind spot or was not paying attention and rear-ended someone, this would be evidence of negligence—regardless of the presence of any safety features.

With the assistance of an experienced attorney, accident victims are able to hold negligent drivers liable for their injuries.

Call Stein & Shulman, LLC today if you were injured in the Chicago area

If you were injured, you need the experience and expertise of skilled accident attorneys in Chicago, Illinois. To receive your free consultation with our law firm, call 312.422.0500.