In order to avoid collision with the driver of a car who made a wildly optimistic illegal left turn, I had to push my brake pedal all the way to the floor and stop far more suddenly then one would in any non-emergency situation. But I barely avoided collision. After that my brakes didn't work well and required depressing the pedal all the way to the floor to get less deceleration than one normally gets from quite moderate braking. It turned out a brake line in my ancient car (circa 20 years old) had sprung a leak from the high pressure in the line during that incident.

Is the other driver responsible for any of the costs of repair?

  • What would you say if it was a squirrel that ran in front of your car and you stomped on the brakes? Or a deer? – BlueDogRanch Sep 19 '17 at 2:09
  • @BlueDogRanch : If an animal destroys my car I don't think the courts would order the animal to pay for it. – Michael Hardy Sep 19 '17 at 3:21
  • I didn't mean wreck your car; I meant causing the brake issues. The other driver is not liable, as much as a squirrel or deer would be liable. – BlueDogRanch Sep 19 '17 at 3:50
  • You got lucky. You had a sub-par safety system and it reveled itself in a way no one got hurt. Your model car has the breaks it does to meet some standard, your particular car might not have been meeting that standard at the time of the incident, that may be a legal problem. – user4460 Sep 19 '17 at 15:54

The reason an at fault driver is liable for damage in a collision is due to the tort of negligence.

To be liable under negligence one of the many factors that the plaintiff (that's you in this case) must prove is that the damage you suffered was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant's (that's the U-turner) acts or omissions. This is where your case would fall down: a collision is a reasonably foreseeable outcome, damage to your braking system in normal operation is not reasonably foreseeable given that an emergency stop is something a breaking system should be able to do.

This is simply a maintenance issue.

  • It is, however, basic tort doctrine that you "take your victims as you find them". If the defendant's unlawful act resulted in the foreseeable emergency braking by others, which caused the plaintiff to swerve out of control and crash, or the load to shift and spill, might such harms not be included within the scope of compensable negligence? Of course, many states recognize "comparative negligence" where acts of more than one actor exacerbate the result. – Upnorth Sep 21 '17 at 15:41
  • @Upnorth That's a different question: why not ask it? – Dale M Sep 21 '17 at 19:18
  • My comment was intended only as a counterpoint to your assertion related to proving proximate cause. My point was that it may certainly be foreseeable that someone's vehicle or load becomes damaged during an emergency maneuver necessitated by someone else's violation of traffic code. – Upnorth Sep 22 '17 at 15:44
  • You MIGHT have a remedy against the mechanic who performed the last road-worthiness test on your vehicle for not spotting dangerously corroded brake lines. – Laurence Payne Jan 25 '19 at 13:11

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