Understanding Georgia Motor Vehicle Crash Report
Although driver error is by far the most common explanation for a car accident, there are certainly other reasons that collisions happen. In some situations, the vehicle itself may have had problems that contributed to the crash, such as faulty equipment, poor repairs, and other related issues. In these circumstances, officers can note what was wrong with a vehicle on the Georgia Motor Vehicle Crash Report. This section is known as the “vehicle condition” section, sometimes called vehicle contributing factors. These are different than contributing factors related to the operator.
Keep in mind that just because a vehicle malfunctioned, that does not mean that the other driver escapes legal liability. Their reaction to the malfunction may not have been appropriate, which could trigger a requirement to pay you money damages. Other parties may also be to blame in vehicle malfunction situations as well.
What types of vehicle contributing factors might be noted on the crash report?
Any vehicle malfunction could lead to an accident. But, a few types of vehicle failures occur more often than others. Some of the factors officers can choose from on the report include:
- Tire failure. When a tire blows, it can become very difficult to control your vehicle. But, drivers are still expected to maintain control as much as possible. That means that legal responsibility can still result from a driver who hits you because their tire blew.
- Brake failure. Brake failures can lead to very serious injuries and damage. While brake failures may be outside of the driver’s control in some situations, it could also be directly connected to some other driver failure too. The unique facts of your case will play a big role in your ability to get money damages for your injuries.
- Improper or inoperative lights/signals. Signally intentions to turn or switch lanes can prevent accidents. When lights or signals don’t work, including brakes lights or headlights, those can result in collisions.
- Steering failure. Today’s vehicles rarely have problems with steering mechanisms, but it does happen occasionally. When a driver cannot properly maneuver their car, a serious accident can occur.
- Slick tires. When a driver goes through water, it can result in a phenomenon known as “hydroplaning.” This occurs when the tires no longer touch the ground and are just traveling over the water. It results in a momentary loss of control that can be catastrophic.
- Generally, a mirror malfunctions when it’s completely missing or broken. In many cases, this problem is the result of the driver failing to replace or repair a broken mirror.
- Power train. A power train is the connection between the engine and the axle. It allows you to actually steer and your control your vehicle. Malfunctions with the power train could be physical, or they could be due to the onboard computer network as well.
- Although suspension problems are relatively common, they are generally not severe enough to cause a crash. But, there are situations where a faulty suspension results in a loss of control over your vehicle that can lead to an accident.
- Truck coupling/trailer hitch/safety chains. When a trailer or other portion of a vehicle is not hooked up correctly, it can come loose and cause serious damage.
- Windows/windshield. Malfunctions with windshields are rare, but they can occur in the context of having a broken window or having a mechanism to prevent fog or condensation on your windows that could inhibit your ability to see potential hazards and other vehicles.
- Wipers are relevant in the context of heavy rains and where you need to remove debris from the windows to see properly.
In addition, officers also have the option to mark “other” for any other vehicle issue that played a role in the crash, and write in an explanation. If there was nothing wrong with the vehicles, officers could also mark “no contributing factors.”
Who is legally responsible for vehicle malfunctions?
In general, drivers in Georgia are required to keep their vehicles in good working order so that they are not hazardous to other people on the road. When a driver knows about a problem with their car, and they fail to address it, that can lead to a legal responsibility to pay for your injuries and property damage.
But, what happens when the other driver had no idea there was a problem with their car? Are they still liable? Maybe. It will depend on whether they took actions to ensure that their vehicle was in proper working order. For example, if the driver knew that their steering had been difficult lately, but they weren’t sure what was wrong, they could still be at fault when their steering goes out and injure you.
There are also other people or entities who could also be partially at fault for your crash. These include:
- Anyone who did maintenance on the vehicle. If the repairs or regular maintenance that was performed on the car was not done correctly or wasn’t done at all, then a mechanic or repair shop may have to pay for your damages.
- Vehicle manufacturer. There are situations where the car itself was not built correctly or where it has a poor or dangerous design. Under those circumstances, the vehicle manufacturer may also have legal liability.
- Parts manufacturers. There may have been just one part or piece of equipment that caused the accident. If you are able to pinpoint exactly what went wrong, you may also be able to include the manufacturer that only created or installed that one particular part. Vehicle manufacturers may outsource the production of certain parts, which may mean legal liability extends to other companies as well.
- Individuals or companies who load or attach trailers. If the vehicle malfunction is the result of improper loading or attachment that leads to a truck accident, anyone who helped with that process could be legally responsible for your damages and injuries.
Keep in mind that even if there are other parties have some fault, the driver may also need to be included in the lawsuit as well.
Get Legal Help After Your Car Accident
John Foy & Associates has over 20 years of experience helping those who were injured, with some of the top car accident lawyers in the state. We have seen a number of situations where vehicle malfunctions contribute to the crash or were even the sole reason that the accident occurred. Getting the right parties involved can be tricky. Don’t go through this process alone! Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.