Brake failures and other brake problems on tractor-trailers and other large trucks contribute to many catastrophic collisions on the road. A Department of Transportation study shows that 29 percent of all large truck crashes in the U.S. involve brake failures, brakes out of adjustment or other brake-related issues.
Who is Liable for Large Truck Crashes Caused by Brake Failures?
The federal government has strict safety regulations for truck braking systems. Truck brakes that do not meet these standards could have a design defect or manufacturing defect.
Another potential problem arises when owner-operators do not properly maintain and inspect truck brakes. Federal regulations require commercial trucking companies to keep maintenance records, and every driver is required to perform a daily pre-trip inspection report on the condition of the truck’s condition, including brake systems.
Determining who is at fault for the devastating injuries caused by brake failures on large trucks can be complicated. The entities and individuals potentially liable for injuries caused by faulty brakes include:
- Manufacturers of the brake system;
- Owner-operators (responsible for maintaining the brakes);
- Drivers (responsible for regularly inspecting the brakes); and
- Companies that load the trucks.
A brake manufacturer might be liable for not designing the brakes properly, or if a defect occurred in the manufacturing process. A brake recall by the government is powerful evidence that the brake system is defective. A truck owner might also be at fault if the manufacturer notified the owner of the defect and the owner never took steps to correct the problem.
Even if a brake system is designed property, drivers and owner-operators might be at fault in a number of situations. For example, some owner-operators deliberately depower front brakes and rely on the brakes of the trailer and downshifting to stop or slow the rig. They do this to minimize the expense of tire and brake wear and replacement costs.
Owner-operators and drivers also can be liable for failing to properly set the brakes, and for failing to properly maintain the brake systems. They are required to check brake shoes to ensure they function properly, and do not have missing, loose or broken mechanical components. They should regularly listen for air leaks in the brake chamber, which indicate problems with the brake system.
Another potential problem area relates to how trucks are loaded. If a truck load is not evenly distributed brakes may overheat and malfunction. The company that loads a truck improperly may be liable for the injuries resulting from a catastrophic collision on the roadway.
Proving liability requires industry knowledge and accident reconstruction experience. Federal and state regulations require a certified truck inspector to inspect a commercial truck involved in an accident before it is removed from an accident scene. This important report should contain information on the mechanical condition of the parts of the tractor and trailer at the time of the accident.
Many trucks also have high-tech equipment that record important data similar to the “black box” on commercial jetliners. The equipment records data that includes the speed of the truck at the time of a motor vehicle accident, speed patterns and brake use.
Victim of a Michigan Truck Crash? Our Tractor Trailer Accident Attorneys Can Help
The truck injury attorneys at Michigan Injury Lawyers know how devastating a serious accident caused by faulty truck brakes can be for victims and their loved ones. The costs of medical bills and long-term care can be astronomical, and those who lose a spouse, child or other family member may also inherit significant financial burdens that stem from those losses.
The tractor trailer accident lawyers at Michigan Injury Lawyers can help you obtain compensation as you begin to rebuild your life. Call our Michigan accident lawyers at (888) 454-0801 or contact us online for a free evaluation of your claim. If we don’t win, you won’t pay for our assistance.