Defective Brakes And Trucking Accidents: Proving Who Is At Fault

Posted on: 30 December 2015

A study in 2007 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration showed that brake failure was the most commonly associated factor in large truck crashes. Sadly, thousands of truck accidents occur every year due to this simple mechanical failure, causing serious injuries and fatalities on American roads. Nonetheless, if a truck collides with your car due to brake failure, how do you decide who is to blame for the accident? Find out here.

The parties involved

There are generally several parties involved in a trucking accident, according to the nature of the arrangement the driver has with the trucking company. As such, following an accident, your attorney will consider the following:

  • The brake manufacturer
  • The truck driver
  • The company that owned or operated the truck
  • Any company that loaded or unloaded the truck

Negligence by any (or all) of these parties could lead to or exacerbate an accident that occurs due to brake failure.

How the brake manufacturer could become liable

For some accidents, your attorney may discover evidence that the brakes on the truck did not meet federal standards. Federal standards mean that a truck's braking system must develop a certain braking force and achieve a certain deceleration speed related to the size of the vehicle.

After an accident, your attorney can ask for an expert to inspect the brakes on the truck. This inspection may reveal that the manufacturer did not make the brakes to the desired standard or that there was a fault in the manufacturing process. In both cases, this evidence could prove that the manufacturer was liable for the accident.

In some cases, the Department of Transport may issue a recall on certain braking systems that don't meet the federal standards. You can check the details of these recalls online. If the truck owner/operator had installed a recalled brake system, he or she could also become jointly liable with the manufacturer for the accident. Your attorney may ask the manufacturer for proof that the truck owner/operator received notification that the brake system was faulty.

Owner/operator and driver liability

If the truck's brake system met the required federal standard, your attorney will look for evidence that another action caused the brakes to fail. In many cases, the owner/operator and driver's actions can cause the brakes to overload and fail.

For example, owner/operators will sometimes deliberately unhook the front brakes to avoid the wear on tires and brake parts. When they do this, the truck has to rely solely on the rear brakes. In an extreme situation, the rear brakes are often unable to do the job properly, which can result in a collision. If your attorney discovers that the front brakes were not in operation, he or she will try to show that the owner/operator was to blame.

Owners and drivers must also meet federal standards when it comes to regular maintenance and checks. Owner/operators must keep detailed maintenance records, while drivers must carry out pre-trip inspections of their trucks every day. These daily checks cover the brakes, and drivers must specifically look for evidence of broken, loose or worn parts.

If the maintenance records show that the people responsible did not carry out these checks, an attorney will use the evidence to prove liability for the accident.

The loading company's role

Overloaded trucks can cause accidents. While commercial trucks can shift significant loads, it's important that the company that loads the vehicle evenly distributes the weight, or the truck's braking system may not cope. For example, an improper load may put too much pressure on the back of the truck, causing the rear brakes to overheat and fail.

In this instance, your attorney will arrange for an expert to inspect the truck after the collision. Alternatively, a police report is often available. If the evidence shows that the truck's load was uneven or too heavy, your attorney may try to prove that the loading company was negligent.

Trucking accidents can occur for many reasons, and proving liability is seldom easy. Talk to an experienced trucking accident attorney for more advice and information. For more information, contact a business such as Arrington Schelin & Munsey PC.

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