Trial work isn’t easy; it’s complicated and requires knowledge of when expert testimony will be required and which experts will need to express opinions. At the point where you get the opinion the trial lawyer needs to know if what is said will be enough or if more is required to get to the jury. Trial judges listen carefully and if your evidence falls short of making a colorable claim you get bounced out of court before a jury ever gets to consider your claim. So to put this party on requires a lot of work, money to pay experts and a keen sense of what will be required to get to the jury.

Let’s see what this potential client wants to found out about a pedestrian accident caused (allegedly) by defective brakes after just coming from the garage.

Question: Is the driver liable for an accident if it is proved that the garage forgot to connect the brakes before releasing the car?

Question Detail: My friend collected his car from a garage after its annual service; he then drove out into a busy road. Before he had picked up any speed, a pedestrian, crossed a pedestrian crossing ahead of him. My friend applied the brakes but the car did not stop. He was able to swerve and bring the car to a halt without damage. But the pedestrian was struck a glancing blow and fell over. She was taken to the hospital where the nurse at the reception accorded her a low priority and had to wait about 3 hours to see a doctor. When her turn came, she could not stand. It was found that she sustained a more serious back injury and is likely to suffer permanent paralysis. If she had been given a suitable support and seen promptly, these consequences would probably have been avoided. Kevin also later found out that the garage had failed to reconnect the brakes before the car was returned to him. What recourse does Lucy have and against who?

Answer: If what you say can be proven the answer would be yes the garage would be liable. The pedestrian can sue the garage and may choose not to sue your friend the car driver. But his not getting sued is wholly dependent upon the strength of the proof that the brakes were not working at the time of the accident. Whatever your friend does I would recommend he do nothing to the car, not even use it and place it inside of a garage where it will be preserved. The car will need an engineer to examine it, express his opinions and write a report. The condition of that car mustn’t change significantly. It probably should have been flatbedded away from the accident scene. 


Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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