Brake Failure is a Leading Cause of Truck Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that brake failure is the leading factor in truck accidents caused by mechanical failure. Many entities are responsible for ensuring truck brake systems are working properly.
This can complicate these personal injury cases. An experienced attorney can research the cause of truck accidents and determine the liable parties. Contact us today to connect with an experienced truck accident attorney, or keep reading for more information.
How Many Truck Accidents are Caused by Brake Failure?
According to the recent FMCSA report to Congress, 29.4% of truck accidents are caused by brake failure. In addition, brake problems are 170% more likely to be cited as a cause of truck accidents than other motor vehicle accidents.
There are many factors that can contribute to brake failure, and the FMCSA has yet to analyze data to determine how many accidents are due to poor maintenance, failure to perform inspections, manufacturer defects, or other issues. On an accident-by-accident basis, brake systems should be inspected after the truck accident to determine if failed brakes were a cause and what caused them to fail.
Common Types of Brake Problems on Large Trucks
Several things can go wrong in the complex brake system of large trucks. These include:
- Brake imbalances
- Misaligned brake shoes
- Residue in air reservoirs
- Faulty air compressors
- Damaged brake tubes
- Inadequate lubrication
The FMCSA requires brake inspections on all large trucks. Truck drivers are required to perform pre-trip safety inspections that include checking certain aspects of the braking system. The complete braking system must be inspected at least once every 12 months. Truck drivers and trucking companies are required to keep records of these inspections and any maintenance performed on brake systems. These inspections can catch some of these issues, but periodic brake inspections alone are not enough to prevent truck accidents due to brake failure.
What Causes Truck Brakes to Fail?
Some of the most common reasons for truck brakes to fail are:
- Poor Braking Technique: Inexperienced truck drivers can cause added wear to the brake system between inspections. Poor braking technique can also cause accidents directly.
- Inadequate Maintenance: The truck owner or trucking company fails to perform required maintenance, or maintenance teams fail to repair brake problems correctly.
- Overloaded Trailers: Too much weight at the back of the truck increases the load and wear on the brakes between inspections. Improper loading of a truck can also directly cause brakes to fail and cause an accident.
- Manufacturing or Design Defects: In some cases, manufacturers create brake systems prone to failure.
While manufacturer defects can play a role, most truck accidents caused by brake failure include some element of negligence. The negligence can be on the part of several different parties in these truck accidents.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Truck Accidents Involving Brake Failure?
Who can be held liable for a truck accident involving brake failure depends on the reason for the brake failure or the problem with the brakes.
Some potentially liable parties include:
- Owner-Operators responsible for their own maintenance schedules and inspections.
- Truck drivers engaging in unsafe braking techniques.
- Trucking companies responsible for maintenance, loading, and inspections.
- Maintenance crews who are negligent in their duties.
- Cargo loading teams responsible for ensuring cargo weight is appropriate.
- Truck parts manufacturers in cases of manufacturer defects or design flaws.
It is possible that more than one party could be liable for your truck accident if failed brakes were the main cause. This is a complicated matter that requires post-accident inspections, gathering of maintenance records, and other investigative research. It takes an experienced legal team to uncover the cause and liability of truck accidents.
Hire an Attorney Experienced in Truck Accidents
Truck accidents can be complex due to brake issues and other factors. Determining liability and the cause of the truck accident or brake failure takes an investigative legal team experienced and knowledgeable in the laws and maintenance requirements pertaining to large trucks.
A general personal injury attorney may not be familiar with the ins and outs of truck brake systems and government requirements. Our attorneys have a focus on truck accidents and are very knowledgeable in brake systems and other causes of these accidents. Contact us today to be connected with an attorney specializing in truck accidents with brake failure.