Earlier this month, a young mother and her child tragically died when a pickup in which they were riding left the roadway and hit a brick building in a Baltimore shopping center. They died after having been ejected from the truck and two other relatives sustained injuries in the fatal accident.
The Baltimore Sun reported that while the collision is still under investigation, a police spokesperson said that “police had no reason to suspect the crash was intentional … [and] are investigating whether a malfunction or mechanical issues in the truck played a role in the crash …”
Potential liability related to physical condition of a vehicle
Authorities will continue to investigate the reasons for the shopping-center crash, but the circumstances raise broader issues of liability that can arise in any accident.
Of course, when a driver is negligent or reckless and causes a collision, that operator would be liable for resulting injuries. However, aside from driving, liability can stem from issues related to maintenance, design or manufacture of a vehicle.
For example, did the owner or lessee who was responsible for keeping the vehicle in good repair get regular maintenance and make reasonable repairs? A scenario could be imagined where a crash occurred because of brake failure and the owner had not had the brakes inspected at reasonably regular intervals.
Casting a broader net, a mechanic or maintenance company may have made a negligent repair or the person who was employed to make the repair may not have had proper training.
Stepping back even farther in the life of a vehicle, sometimes an accident can occur or can be deadlier because of a defectively designed vehicle or vehicle part. For example, in the 1970s, the Ford Pinto was eventually known to have a dangerous design that placed the gas tank too close to the rear of the car, making it more vulnerable to fire and explosion in a rear-end strike.
Another kind of liability based on the product itself could be a mistake or omission in the manufacture process or another poor choice could have been made during production like the use of the wrong kind of material like metal, plastic, rubber, glue, sealant, glass or other component.
The bottom line is that the victim of a motor vehicle accident should engage an experienced attorney who will cast a wide net in investigating the myriad of causes that can contribute to a crash to uncover all potentially liable parties.