An auto accident in Waterville is being blamed on a mechanical failure.
According to the Kennebec Journal, the problem had to do with the front end of a Volkswagon Jetta. The 31-year-old driver reported he was operating the vehicle on North Street when he suddenly described feeling in the steering wheel as if he’d struck a pothole. He swerved and struck a large white van head-on.
Inside the van, the 62-year-old driver and two passengers sustained minor injuries. One was transported the hospital. Incredibly, the driver of the Jetta wasn’t seriously hurt.
Police investigators reported there was no pothole in the area. However, they came to the conclusion that a mechanical failure in the vehicle was responsible for the collision.
Both vehicles had to be towed from the scene.
It is possible – and in fact, increasingly common – for those injured in Portland car accidents to learn a dangerous or defective vehicle contributed to the crash or exacerbated injuries. Last year, a record 51 million vehicles were recalled, which was slightly more than the old record, set in 2014.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded almost 900 separate recalls last year. There were 803 recorded in 2014. These figures are largely representative of the fact that many automakers are initiating more recalls than ever, after huge fines were levied against makers of Takata airbags, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler for acting too slowly to alert regulators and the public to safety problems.
However, neither a recall nor a police report concluding a mechanical issue will be enough to definitively establish product liability in court. Of course, they can be tools. However, most courts won’t allow police reports indicating conclusions of causation at trial. They will sometimes allow officers to testify about those conclusions, but most patrol officers aren’t accident reconstruction experts. Proving product liability usually requires at least one – often more than one – expert.
Plaintiffs need to show:
- Injury and suffered losses;
- That the product is defective;
- That the defect caused the injury;
- That the product was used as intended.
Establishing a common defect by showing other similar incidents or pointing to a related recall can help strengthen a claim.
In a case like this with no serious injury, the decision to file a lawsuit would need to be carefully weighed. Product liability cases against auto manufacturers can be long, drawn-out affairs. Certainly, they are necessary and worthwhile in cases where plaintiffs suffer serious injury or the premature death of a loved one. However, for minor injuries, one may be able to collect adequate compensation from insurance without engaging in complex litigation.
A consultation with an experienced accident attorney in Portland should help determine whether to move forward with a lawsuit.
According to carcomplaints.com, Jetta customers logged 20 different complaints about the 2015 model, including seven pertaining to engine function, three with clutch problems and two with electrical problems. Older models are reportedly prone to additional problems, including issues with the fuel system.
If you are the victim of an auto accident in Maine, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Mechanical failure believed to be cause of Waterville accident, Feb. 23, 2016, By Rachel Ohm, Kennebec Journal