Truck accidents are, by nature, far more complicated than a typical car crash. For one, when a truck crashes, it’s sheer size and weight is often no match for a typical passenger vehicle or SUV, causing serious injury for the driver and occupants. The reasons behind a truck crash often include driver fatigue or other negligent behavior as well as mechanical failure. Because there can be a number of factors at play, many truck accident victims choose to retain a truck accident lawyer to navigate the claims process and ensure fair compensation for their losses.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is tasked with regulating the trucking industry for the safety of truck drivers and others on the road. They also compile statistics on the causes of truck accidents, which they break up into three categories:
- Human error
- Outside conditions, like weather
- Mechanical failure
When a truck crashes at least partly because of mechanical failure, the driver, the trucking company or other parties could be liable for any damages resulting from the accident. Federal law requires that truckers and trucking companies inspect the truck daily and repair any safety hazards before the truck can go back out. They are also required to maintain records of these inspections and reports for three months. After an accident, it’s important that you or your attorney request these records to understand the truck’s inspection and maintenance history.
Common Types of Mechanical Failure in Truck Accidents
Trucks are on the road frequently and require many parts to keep it running at its peak condition on the road. Some of the most common types of mechanical issues that may result in a truck accident may have been preventable if drivers and carriers abided by federal safety regulations.
When tires fail and blow-out while the truck is in motion, fragments of tire can fly over the road and onto other vehicles obscuring vision. Or, the truck driver can lose control of the rig when a tire suddenly goes. Oftentimes, driver negligence or a product defect is to blame if a truck crash is caused by a tire blowout.
Many studies have shown that brake issues are one of the leading mechanical violations cited in truck accidents. When a truck can’t stop or stop in time, they can slam into the back of stopped traffic or veer off the side of a road causing catastrophic accidents.
Lighting issues, including broken headlights, tail lights, and signal lights, can cause serious problems. If a truck is on the road at night without bright or properly working headlights, the driver may fail to see smaller vehicles, pedestrians or other hazards in the road. If the signal lights or tail lights are out, other vehicles cannot know the truck driver’s intention for changing lanes or turning thus potentially causing a collision.
A transmission is a critical piece of a truck’s engine responsible for shifting gears and powering the truck up inclines and hills. Even if a transmission is regularly inspected and serviced, if the truck is overloaded and carrying cargo above its limit, the transmission can fail without warning leaving the driver unable to control the rig.
Liability for Mechanical Failure in Truck Accidents
Truck inspection and maintenance violations are quite common and are often part of the contributing causes to a truck accident. The truck driver and potentially other employees are responsible for inspecting the truck each day. If they are employed by a trucking company, the company itself is typically legally responsible to ensure they are complying with federal safety guidelines and operating their fleet safely.
More than one company may be responsible for different parts of the truck. For example, the tractor might be owned and insured by one company or owner/operation, while the trailer might be owned and insured by another company. Liability in a semi-truck accident can be complex and is one of the key reasons to consult with an experienced truck accident attorney to understand your case and your options.
Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, Truck Accident Lawyers
Are you considering talking to an attorney about an injury you or a loved one sustained in a truck accident? At Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, we believe in compassion and empathy and want to help. Contact us today for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success, we can get you the justice you deserve.