In the aftermath of a truck accident, many truck drivers will claim that their brakes failed and caused the accident. This assertion may very well be true — DOT data shows that 29 percent of large truck crashes involved braking issues — but it does not automatically deflect fault or liability from the truck driver.
Truck brakes are manufactured, maintained and inspected in order to achieve a high expectation for their functionality. Even when they do fail, fail safes often exist to ensure that a partial failure does not lead to a wreck. Therefore, a truck accident caused by “brake failure” may actually be the result of a defective product, negligent practices, or a bit of both.
You and a truck accident lawyer can parse through these possibilities together as you consider the following information:
Who Could Be Liable When Brake Failure Led to a Truck Accident?
There are several possibilities as to who could be liable when a truck accident occurs as a result of brake failure:
- The truck’s driver
- The maintenance company or truck owner responsible for maintaining the vehicle
- The company that loaded the truck
- The brake manufacturer, or those who handled the brakes before the truck was sold
Why the Brake Manufacturer Could Be Liable
Truck brakes are heavily regulated in terms of their capabilities and the processes used to ensure quality and reliable, repeatable performance. Through the use of brakes, a truck must be able to develop a minimum braking force based on its weight, decelerate to a stop at a specific rate, meet requirements for automatic brake adjustment systems and other performance standards.
Brakes that cannot meet these standards are considered a defective product. They may be defective by design, or defects may have occurred as a result of mistakes in the manufacturing or product handling process. Sometimes, the original manufacturer may not be at fault but rather a company that shipped the brakes, installed them on the truck or otherwise modified them before they reached the eventual truck owner.
Therefore, many companies could be potentially liable when brake failure leads to injury.
Truck Drivers or Trucking Company Owners
Sometimes, a truck driver will either deliberately or inadvertently limit the power of their braking system. A common scenario is that a driver will completely unhook their cab’s braking system in order to only use the trailer’s brakes. This can help the truck owner save money on maintenance, but it places unpredictable stress on the rest of the vehicle.
Other times, a party responsible for inspecting and maintaining the system does a poor job. Federal law requires that truck owners maintain an ongoing log of each inspection and maintenance activity. If this log is incomplete or contains obvious discrepancies with what forensic investigators discover at the accident scene, then whoever owned the truck or maintained it could potentially be liable.
Finally, improper loading or driving habits can cause brakes to overheat.
All of these scenarios put multiple parties potentially at-fault, often leading to multiple injury claims being filed to suss out who is ultimately responsible.
Getting Help from a Truck Accident Lawyer
Factors like those described above make each truck accident that results from brake failure a complex situation when trying to recover compensation for personal injury. A skilled, experienced truck accident lawyer is therefore often required to handle the multiple lines of investigation and decide which claims should be filed while creating all of the needed documentation.
Hiring a truck accident attorney is therefore extremely beneficial if you have been the injured in a trucking accident. Use the number above or the convenient online form to the side to contact Stewart Bell, PLLC and receive a free case review regarding your accident injury today.