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How to fight being charged at fault for an accident due to mechnical failure?

by Mona
(Onsted, MI)

I had a tire blow out and a kind man changed my tire for me. He put on my spare and told me there was a Chrysler dealer about 2 miles up the road. I starting driving to the dealer at approximately 35-40 miles per hour; as I approached a red light to turn into the dealer my car suddenly car veered to the left and I could not control the car.

I aimed for the grass because I did not want to hit any cars and that is all I remember of the accident. I ended up waking up in a daze behind my airbags. I was off the road and there were some ladies offering to help me. I asked them what happened because I did not remember. These ladies told me that something happened with my front tires. The paramedics and police came and I told the officer what the ladies told me and I also told him what speed I was driving. I asked him to talk to the ladies who witnessed the accident.

I was taken to the hospital by ambulance and assumed that the police officer had taken the names of the witnesses and knew what happened to cause this accident. A few weeks later my insurance called and told me I was charged at fault for the accident even though no citation was given; I was shocked. I told them there was no way I could have prevented or predicted the accident and I was on my way immediately to correct a defect with my car.

They stated that I should have know about the tire prior to the incident and should have had preventive maintenance and that I was driving too fast for the spare tire. I could not believe this; how could I have know that my tire would have blown? I have researched the recommended speed for the compact spare tire, the type on my car, and it is 50 mph; I was driving 35-40 mph (10-15 mph below the recommendation).

How can I fight being charged at fault for this accident?

My insurance rates have jumped sky high for an accident I had no control to stop. Also, the police officer did not take the names of any of the witnesses and those witnesses know I was not at fault. Finally, I have had many medical bills and loss of wages and my auto insurance has not paid one penny yet; my health insurance has paid all medical bills. The auto insurance is delaying my wage loss payments purposely. I would appreciate any help you have to offer.


Hello Mona,

Unfortunately, you are likely to be at fault for this accident. When you have operate a vehicle, you take responsibility for the way the equipment of the vehicle will behave. You have a "non delegable" duty to ensure the car is safe to drive at any speed. If the tire blew up at 35 to 40 MPH, you failed that duty.

It's not fair from your perspective, however, look at it from the perspective of the people you caused damage to. They clearly did not do anything at all. You were the person in the best position to do something (which you did, tried to avoid), but you were not successful.

The issue with non delegable duties (like to inspect your breaks and your tires) is created so people cannot simply claim mechanical break down, and avoid paying for damages. This doctrine applies even when a repair shop does the work for you. It is still your duty to make sure the car is safe to drive.

This DOES NOT mean that the manufacture may or may not also be at fault, however, at most, you would be looking at a joint and several liability issue where you would still have to pay.

Contact a local attorney, they can help you much better than we can.

Good Luck,
Auto Insurance Claim Advice

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