Most car accidents in Maryland and elsewhere are caused by driver errors. Occasionally, a defect or another problem associated with a car causes a wreck. This is a difficult scenario for people who end up injured in car crashes. Maryland’s car accident claim process is based on fault and a driver may not always be to blame if a car switches gears and it causes an accident.

Finding out who was to blame for these wrecks can be a challenge. If you or a member of your family has been hurt by a driver who claims a mechanical fault was to blame, you should talk to an attorney. Our Baltimore car accidents lawyers will advise you about who caused the accident. We will make sure the culpable party is held accountable.

How a Car Can Switch Gears and Cause an Accident

Transmission failure is one of the most common causes of a car switching gears. Most cars in Maryland have automatic transmissions. This means drivers don’t have to manually change gears. Like a manual transmission, the automatic transmission’s main job is to allow the car’s engine to operate over a narrow range of speeds while giving a wide range of output speeds. Without the automatic transmission, the driver would have to select a gear to allow a car to travel at a certain speed.

The transmission converts power from your engine into power at the wheels. It requires plenty of hydraulic fluid as well as gears and clutches. When cars change gears unexpectedly, the transmission is usually slipping. Drivers typically receive warnings when their transmission is slipping. They should act quickly and take their cars to a mechanic. Here are some warnings of impending transmission failure.

  • Delayed reaction or delayed engagement in the transmission;
  • Strange smells from the car;
  • Transmission warning light;
  • Hard shifts
  • Transmission fluid leaks.

A driver who notices these signs should be aware of possible transmission problems that can lead to a bad gear shift. Drivers who fail to address potentially accident-causing issues like transmission problems, worn tires or substandard brakes, can be held liable for a wreck. A fender bender or another accident can cause transmission damage. Drivers who are involved in accidents should get their vehicles carefully checked over for damage that’s not always obvious.

Who is Liable for Car Accidents Caused by Mechanical Failure?

If a car switches gears and it causes an accident, or mechanical failure is to blame for your injuries, you may face an uphill battle. Insurance companies constantly look for reasons why their policyholder was not to blame for an accident. They may seize on evidence pointing to a mechanical failure. These cases are not always cut and dry. Even if a car switches gears, there’s an argument to be made that a crash was not inevitable. Was the driver tailgating meaning he had too little time to react? If a driver has been experiencing transmission problems, he or she should have known of the dangers and get the car repaired. There are many shades of gray in this scenario and you should not take a driver or an insurance company at face value.

In cases that involve mechanical failures, a number of parties can be held responsible. They include.

  • The driver for failing to address the issue or not responding quickly enough to the situation;
  • A car manufacturer for a defect;
  • A car parts manufacturer;
  • A leasing company;
  • The garage or workshop that carried out substandard repairs.

Establishing Liability for an Accident Caused by a Mechanical Failure in Maryland

There is a range of potential causes if a car switches gears and it causes an accident. However, this is not a common cause of wrecks in Maryland or anywhere else. If you end up hurt by the roadside and the driver who hit you claims his car switched gears, you should be skeptical from the outset. A Maryland car accident lawyer can help. Always ask questions about why a mechanical error is to blame and gather as much evidence as possible.

The police officer who attends the accident is also likely to be skeptical. The argument that a car switched gears and caused an accident is sometimes made by drivers who are trying to get ‘off the hook’ for a wreck. The onus is on the driver to make the case that a mechanical problem caused the crash. In the absence of that proof, the police officer will likely ticket the at-fault driver.

Driver Error

Even if a slipped gear caused an accident, the driver may be to blame for failing to maintain his vehicle. However, other parties could be held liable for crashes caused by mechanical errors. If a workshop failed to address a known problem that caused an accident, it may be possible to sue the facility. If the slipped gear was caused by a design fault, the car manufacturer or another party can be held liable in a defective products action.

Manufacturer Error

Both your legal team and the insurance companies will investigate an accident to find out who or what was to blame. Once it’s established that a vehicle played a part in the crash, our team will consider whether the vehicle’s design, the manufacturing process, or recent maintenance or lack of it caused a mechanical failure.

Manufacturers, suppliers or maintenance providers have a responsibility for making sure a car is safe to be on the road. If a car switches gears and causes an accident, a manufacturing defect may be the cause. America has a strict framework for carmakers to address and fix defects.

NHTSA Negligence

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is responsible for policing defects in passenger vehicles. The NHTSA was created by the Highway Safety Act of 1970. The legislation requires automakers that are aware of defects to notify their customers, and remedy the problems.  The legislation gave the NHTSA the authority to investigate car and truck manufacturing defects and then to require companies to issue recall notices.

Some defects caused multiple accidents. The General Motors flawed ignition switch scandal of five years ago caused at least 124 car accident deaths and 275 injuries. GM paid out more than $590 million to victims and the families of the deceased through a compensation fund it set up.

GM said 2.6 million cars with flawed ignition systems could be accidentally switched off on the road. This dangerous defect caused the driver to lose control and disabled safety features such as power steering.

Supplier Error

Suppliers have also been held liable in the courts for defects that caused crashes and injuries. The most spectacular example in recent year is Takata airbags. As many as 68 million cars worldwide are affected by the recalls caused by defective airbags made by the Japanese company At least 15 drivers and passengers in the U.S. have died and more than 250 people have been injured by airbags that have exploded, sending shrapnel flying through the air at high speeds. The defect was caused by ammonium nitrate used to inflate the airbag in the event of a crash. The ammonium nitrate often becomes unstable over time, leading to inflators that explode with a sudden violent force.

As well as a manufacturer or a parts supplier, a maintenance facility may be sued over a car crash caused by a mechanical failure. An incorrect transmission repair or the fitting of a faulty part can cause a gear slip crash in Maryland. In some cases, garages performed substandard brake repairs that led to failures. A mechanic can also be held negligent for failing to diagnose a safety issue.

Hire a Maryland Car Accident Lawyer After a Collision Caused by a Mechanical Failure

Accidents caused by mechanical failures are very complicated. Many factors are involved and it can be difficult to prove the exact cause of the crash that left you or your family members injured. In some of these cases, experts have to be brought in by lawyers. If you deal directly with an insurance company, you risk being short-changed.

At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we will meticulously investigate the cause of your wreck to establish who was to blame for your injuries. We believe it’s important for you to recover as much as possible. Please see our results and call our Baltimore personal injury lawyers as soon as possible at (410) 288-2900.