Car crashes are complicated, especially in comparative fault states like Ohio. When assigning fault, the insurance company will examine every aspect of the crash, including whether the vehicles involved were well-maintained. It may seem hard to believe, but yes, there’s a good reason why your car’s condition matters in a crash.
Modified Comparative Negligence
When distributing assigned fault, the insurance companies look for anything that could shift the balance onto the other driver. Negligent vehicle maintenance is an easy target because it is preventable and (usually) apparent. If the insurance company’s investigation finds that you have bald tires or crunching brakes, they will likely try to shift some of the fault to you, even if you weren’t necessarily responsible for the crash.
Remember that as a car owner, you have a responsibility to keep your vehicle in working order and make sure it is safe to drive. Failing to maintain your vehicle and get it regular maintenance not only increases your fault in a crash but it also makes crashes more likely.
Crashes Caused By Negligent Maintenance
If your taillights are out, you’re more likely to be rear-ended because the other driver may not realize you’re slowing down, especially at night. Generally speaking, taillights reduce the risk of a crash by upwards of 16% for vehicles that are lower to the ground.
If you’re not sure whether your taillights are out, you can either have a friend look for you or back up near a wall and look for the glow on the wall. If you don’t get this fixed promptly, you may also face a ticket should a police officer notice.
If your car crunches and grinds whenever you slow down, it’s probably time to get your brakes replaced. When your brakes are worn down, they’re much less sensitive and require more time to make the car slow down. That increased response time can be a contributing factor in a crash and could be one of the more significant considerations in fault distribution.
Brakes that have been neglected for a while are particularly dangerous because they can fail altogether, leaving you unable to safely slow down. If you ever hear that distinctive crunch, almost like driving on snow, when you pull up to the stop sign, get your car to the mechanic as soon as possible!
Bald tires are a two-prong problem. First, worn tires typically have lower air pressure, which will make steering more difficult and can increase stopping distance. Second, bald tires are much more likely to experience a blowout, endangering everyone on the road.
Many drivers who experience tire blowout lose control of their vehicle and start uncontrollably drifting across the road, potentially into other vehicles. Likewise, tire scraps tumbling into traffic can disrupt other drivers or even go through windshields, especially at high speeds.
Car Maintenance Milestones
Just as you might have a sticker on your windshield reminding you of your next oil change, it’s probably a good idea to set reminders for when you need routine car maintenance and brake repairs. Not only can this help you avoid a crash, but it could also prevent fault redistribution if someone else hits you.
Tires typically need replacing every 25,000-50,000 miles. If you’re worried about your tires wearing down, take a moment to check them at least once a week. If it looks like the tread is fading, or if the tread is gone, it may be time to get them replaced.
It’s also a good idea to get your tires rotated about every 8,000 miles. Rotating helps the tread wear evenly, which can potentially extend the life of your tires and reduce the likelihood of a blowout.
Knowing when it’s time to replace your brakes can be tricky. A lot of mechanics recommend getting new brakes every 20,000-60,000 miles. That’s an enormous range, especially if you’re not a trained mechanic. For that reason, you should be able to identify the warning signs as soon as possible.
The crunching sound signals very worn brakes that need to be replaced immediately. Some of the earlier warning signs that your brakes are wearing include longer brake times, squeaking sounds, and a rattling steering wheel. If you suspect your brakes are wearing down, it’s best to get them replaced before they lead to a serious crash.
If you or someone you love suffered severe injuries in a car crash, we are here for you. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer from Ross, Midian & Breitmayer, LLC, please don’t hesitate to call (614) 450-2223 or send us an email.