Hypothetical situation: I notice my car's brakes are making funny noises, so I take the car to my mechanic to have it checked out. The mechanic inspects the car and informs me that the noise is caused by a buildup of brake dust, and the brakes themselves are still fully functional.

While pulling out of the mechanic's driveway, the brakes fail and I rear-end a Bugatti Veyron. Clearly, the mechanic's evaluation of the brakes was incorrect. Who's responsible for the damage to the million-dollar sports car?

(If it's relevant, assume the mechanic has any applicable certifications or licenses, and is not just "someone who's good with cars".)

  • "He inspects the car". Does that include giving it a formal brake test on calibrated equipment? Apr 29, 2022 at 15:36
  • @WeatherVane, it includes whatever would be the standard procedure for a customer complaint of "the brakes are making funny noises".
    – Mark
    Apr 29, 2022 at 21:24

2 Answers 2


The mechanic could be held liable, indeed this attorney explains what you have to prove in exactly this case (not necessarily involving a million dollar car). The mechanic was negligent in diagnosing and repairing the brakes. You then have to prove that you mad the mechanic service the brakes (receipts / invoices). You need an attorney to figure out exactly why the brakes failed – maybe he messed up reassembling the brakes, maybe the brakes were defective (product liability) and he was negligent in detecting the defect – then the manufacturer is also liable, and it becomes an issue of what percentage of blame goes to each person. This doesn't mean that you are off the hook, because you still might have taken action to avoid the collision (emergency brake? steer to the right? how fast were you driving, how close were you following?).

  • 2
    Typically, you need to have an appraiser or expert consultant attest why the brakes failed. That's not a job for an attorney.
    – Roland
    Apr 29, 2022 at 10:13
  • 1
    Yes, and that the brakes failed, and you weren't just sleeping, or texting, or drunk.
    – PMF
    Apr 29, 2022 at 12:25
  • Would OP have to prove that the brakes were faulty immediately after the accident, to escape the more obvious cause of negligent driving, (or tampering with the brakes afterwards) as they had been tested only moments beforehand? Apr 29, 2022 at 15:37
  • The attorney doesn't testify, he seeks those who would testify on behalf of his client. The attorney knows that is admissible vs. not, and what "matters" legally.
    – user6726
    Apr 29, 2022 at 16:10

The defective vehicle owner's liability depends upon whether the vehicle owner failed to use the care of a reasonable person to prevent the accident, which is up to a jury to decide on a case by case basis.

If the jury finds that you reasonably believed that you didn't have a problem with the car that needed repair and could foreseeably result in this kind of accident as a result of your investigation of the issue by talking to a mechanic, they you have no liability, although the mechanic might have liability to the person whose car was damages if the mechanic's mistake was one that a reasonable mechanic wouldn't have made.

If the jury finds that the vehicle owner exercised reasonable care, and that the mechanic, while mistaken, reached the same conclusion that a reasonable mechanic would have reached under the circumstances because the cause of the brake failure was uniquely difficult to diagnose correctly for some reason, then neither the vehicle owner or the mechanic has liability to the person whose vehicle was damaged.

In most civil law countries of continental Europe, unlike most common law countries which use a negligence theory of liability, the vehicle owner would have tort liability for the amount of the damage to the vehicle that was damaged, because in those jurisdictions, the definition of fault is closer to a strict liability definition than the definition of negligence at common law.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .