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Mods, car accidents, and legal problems

Discussion in '2nd Gen. Tacomas (2005-2015)' started by seligman, May 23, 2009.

  1. May 23, 2009 at 1:49 AM
    #1
    seligman

    seligman [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I'm just curious for the people who make lots of mods to their truck.

    Let's say you make some innocent (and legal) mods to your truck. You get into a car accident and it's your fault.

    The police, insurance company, or lawyers working for the other person, discover the mod and insist that it caused, or at least influenced, the accident. I'm not saying it's legitimate, but you know how police and lawyers behave...

    At what point can you be held personally responsible for an "unsafe" mod? Does this vary state to state?
     
  2. May 23, 2009 at 2:27 AM
    #2
    A.D.

    A.D. Desert Riding Ninja

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    I would say the mods wouldn't be legal then, like changing your exhaust to just off the headers and starting a fire. The mod wasn't legal, so you could be held liable, i know that is out there, but if a mod was unsafe then it would be illegal, right? You shouldn't be held liable for completely legal mods, car enthusiasts have been doing them for decades now, and i am sure many of them have not been held liable, except for the street racers, them i could see it heading a different way, as in they were modding solely to commit illegal acts. I don't know if this clears anything up, but i don't think many of the mods discussed here would have any consequences.
     
  3. May 23, 2009 at 2:29 AM
    #3
    05PreRunner

    05PreRunner "Living life in the FAST lane..."

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    Only thing i can really see Police or Lawyers twisting up on you would be tinted tail lights...
    (they can saw the tint reduced the output of the tail lights, causing the guy behind you to not see when you were braking)

    Sounds retarded, but they most likly would do that...:rolleyes:
     
  4. May 23, 2009 at 5:13 AM
    #4
    Brunes

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    Yeah...They would have to prove that it had some relation to the accident.
    Just because they say something doesn't make it true "Oh- His Tacoma is lifted so he rear ended me" just doesn't make sense.

    Now if you have an ABS disable switch and rear end someone in the rain/snow/whatever else. They might argue that it influenced the out come...or the light example above. The question is really what will it do.

    If the accident is clearly your fault anyways...prolly not much. If it's questionable then you should probably worry about weither your mod is legal or not. If you haven't done anything against the law then it is by proxy "safe." The laws were written to prevent people from doing unsafe things.

    PS Didn't appreciate the lil "how police and lawyer act" jab. Your lawyer would pull the same shit if it was turned around and you were the no fault party...and he's probably trying to pull some stuff to get you off. Cops are there to investigate- They have no vested interest in fucking you over...so they write what they see.
     
  5. May 23, 2009 at 10:40 AM
    #5
    Evil Monkey

    Evil Monkey There's an evil monkey in my truck

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    Well if the accident is your fault, how would proving a mod caused it help their case? It's already been proved that it's your fault.

    What you'd worry about is one that was not your fault but the blame is being put on you for your mod. The tail light tint that 05PreRunner mentioned is the perfect example. It's a illegal mod by DOT standards and many states enforce it so it's very likely the case could be made that your mod caused the accident (reduced visibility) and could shift the liability back to you. I drove behind a truck once that had very dark tint plus he had some weak LED lights in place of the incandescents. I could barely see his brake lights even being directly behind him. If he had to do an emergency stop, I don't know if those lights would register to the driver behind him.

    Another might be using lights that are legally too bright for the road or adjusted incorrectly due to a lift. Blinding the person in front of you so that they lose track of the road could definitly be your fault.

    Other than things that reduce your visibility or harm the other drivers ability to see, I couldn't think of how something you did to the truck would be turned against you if the accident were not your fault.
     
  6. May 23, 2009 at 11:03 AM
    #6
    rpoint16

    rpoint16 Well-Known Member

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    Attorneys are in the business to make money, just like anyone else. They will argue your case to benefit them & make money. If there is not much of a case, meaning "not enough to benefit them", they probably will not take it. There are exceptions to this though. I will post a "Handle on the Law" thread soon.



    That is a great question though.

    Say you have a 8" lift on your Taco & it was professionally installed & legal. Someone cuts you off going 25mph, you barely touch & you roll & you are fine. The guy who cuts you off gets a ticket & his ins company pays out 3K for repairs. So now, same scenario except you break both collarbones & are paralyzed from the waist down or you lose a leg, something life altering. I GUARANTEE you, right or wrong, that guys insurance company’s legal department will fight vigorously to put some/most of the blame on you for radically modifying your vehicle from the factory settings. I beleive even in most owners manuals & on lift installation kits it clearly states “any modification to this/any vehicle… may result in unstable… & may cause injury or death, etc… There are thousands of senarios like this. Insurance companies settle all the time in no-fault cases.
     
  7. May 23, 2009 at 11:20 AM
    #7
    Jimirich

    Jimirich Well-Known Member

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    If you were driving a stock car and caused an accident, say, looked at your stereo and drifted the lane. You could be found responsible for causing the accident. On the other hand if you lifted your truck yourself, caused the alignment to be very outta whack and drifted the lane causing an accident, you could be found guilty of criminal negligence incurring jailtime and/or punitive damages above what your liability is for causing an accident due to lack of attention, dropping coffe in your lap etc. More extreme: suppose you decided to carve off all the tread on your tires and the result was you losing control of your vehicle and causing an accident. Your actions of modification could be found to be negligent.
    As stated in the above quote, If the accident were not your fault I don't see how you could be held liable for mods on your truck. It doesn't mean some scheister lawyer wouldn't try to turn the tables on you, though.
    Eh, thats my.02
     
  8. May 23, 2009 at 12:31 PM
    #8
    seligman

    seligman [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Hey, you interpreted my comment the wrong way. I didn't necessarily mean anything negative about it, except for maybe the lawyers :)
     
  9. May 23, 2009 at 12:48 PM
    #9
    Kyouto42

    Kyouto42 Iron Beard

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    Pretty much agree with the above but I'm no lawyer. What I think would be interesting to find out is if say you put an AP bumper on, rear end someone, and it doesn't do anything to your truck as much but totals the vehicle in front of you possibly even killing the occupant(s). In that case, and let's say they get some research done and find that if you left it stock and the crumple zones worked on the truck, it would have saved their lives. It seems to me like the party/family of the injured/deceased might be able to come after you in full. That's and extreme case but... it's a valid question.
     
  10. May 23, 2009 at 12:51 PM
    #10
    MotoTacoma

    MotoTacoma Adrenaline Addict

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    a big one in this topic is bumper height, headlight/taillight height.. those that have their trucks jacked up high, make sure you are within your state's laws.. otherwise if someone pulls out in front of you, or rear ends you,and it is THERE fault, you may be determined at fault by insurance co. IF the police officer/other party/insurance agent picks up on the violation...
     
  11. May 23, 2009 at 1:03 PM
    #11
    seligman

    seligman [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Another thing I wonder about is the difference in laws from state to state.

    Let's say your mod is legal in your home state but you cause an accident in another state where that mod is illegal.

    What are the chances your auto insurance covers you? If not, I guess your ass is grass?
     
  12. May 23, 2009 at 5:11 PM
    #12
    MotoTacoma

    MotoTacoma Adrenaline Addict

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    i don't think the state to state laws regarding inspection violations differ that much, but if they do, sounds like a grey area... don't be the one to set the case law...
     
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