Nearly a third of large truck accidents are caused by some kind of brake malfunction. It stands to reason, then, that if you’re involved in a trucking accident, the first place to look for a cause is the truck’s braking system and brake maintenance history.
Unlike auto accidents involving two privately owned vehicles, trucking accidents are more complicated to deal with. There are often multiple companies involved in the ownership, maintenance and operation of the truck, which can make it difficult to seek compensation in the event you’re party to a crash. If you’ve been involved in a trucking accident, seeking representation from a truck accident lawyer can help simplify the process and potentially increase the compensation you receive from the insurance company.
Who is to Blame?
Assuming that the cause of the truck crash is brake related, braking issues in trucks can be caused by a number of groups, including:
- The brake manufacturer — defective brake parts
- The brake maintenance company (or the driver) — poor maintenance
- The party who loaded the truck — unbalanced cargo
- The driver — negligence or unsafe driving practices
Let’s take a look at each of these potential causes to discover the ways in which a mistake from any of them can cause a trucking accident.
The Brake Manufacturer
If you’re involved in a truck accident where the cause of the crash can be pinned on defective brakes, you may be able to file a product liability lawsuit in court. Brakes must meet a number of federal regulatory safety standards. If they do not, you might have a valid court claim. These standards include:
- Ability to provide a minimum braking force depending on the truck’s weight
- Ability to go from 20 mph to a full stop in a certain amount of time depending on the truck’s size
- Ability to meet the requirements of the automatic brake adjustment system
Additionally, sometimes the government will discover defects in a manufacturer’s brake designs or manufacturing processes. Under these circumstances, the manufacturer must initiate a product recall. If defective brakes caused your accident, you might have a claim against either the manufacturer or the owner of the truck. A truck accident lawyer can tell you if a particular braking system has been recalled.
The Driver and Trucking Company
Truck brakes are usually maintained by either the driver or the trucking company. Commercial trucking companies must by law keep a record of regular maintenance and each driver must perform a daily inspection to ensure that the truck can be operated safely. This inspection includes checking the braking system for leaks in the brake chamber, loose brake parts or damage to the brake shoes. If maintenance and inspection logs cannot be provided, you may be able to file a claim against either the driver or the trucking company.
Improper truck loading, either by the driver or the trucking company, can also cause braking problems. If the weight of the cargo isn’t evenly distributed, excessive force may be needed to brake properly, causing the brakes to overheat.
Unsafe driving practices can cause additional braking issues. Sometimes, a truck driver who also owns the vehicle will try to minimize expenses by depowering the front brakes, placing the full cargo load solely on the rear brakes and the transmission. This can save money by extending tire and brake life, but poses a significant safety hazard.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer
To learn whether or not unsafe practices or defective parts played a role in your accident, it’s a good idea to reach out to a truck accident lawyer. An attorney can assist you in getting to the bottom of the issue, and ultimately help you get the compensation you deserve. At Heuser & Heuser, LLP, we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free case evaluation.