Most people with any common sense would not drive their vehicles if they knew there was a serious problem with their brakes. One would think that this common-sense rule would govern the decisions of truck drivers and trucking companies as well. After all, an 80,000 pound truck with poorly maintained or defective brakes magnifies the likelihood of a catastrophic accident. Unfortunately, truckers and trucking companies operate under a different set of rules where the rush to deliver a load and make money take precedence over basic repairs and maintenance of truck brakes. Even worse, trucking companies will often take steps to make their big-rig truck brakes even less effective to save money.
How Faulty Brakes Causes Truck Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has detailed rules regarding trucking maintenance and repair of many truck components—including its brakes. The purpose of these rules is to make certain trucks are safe when they are operated on our roadways and to prevent tragic wrecks. For example, the rules require the systematic and periodic inspections of trucks to be certain they are in proper working order. Trucks are not to be operated if a condition puts them in danger of a breakdown or a crash.
The rules are even more specific regarding the minimum inspection standards for brakes and the qualifications of the employee inspecting the brakes. When trucking companies and truckers violate these basic safety rules, victims suffer devastating injuries in accidents. Brakes can cause collisions in two ways: brake failure and inadequate braking ability. Common reasons the truck’s brakes could have caused your crash include:
- Failing to inspect brakes. Besides the periodic inspections by trucking companies, truckers are required to inspect their brakes before taking the truck on the road. The inspection should include checking the brake shoes for missing parts and to be certain that they work properly, inspecting the brakes for missing or loose components, and listening for air leaks. If a truck driver finds any problems, the truck should not be driven until repairs are made. This is also true of any periodic inspection. Sadly, the opposite happens frequently.
- Failing to repair problems. Failing to make any needed truck brake repairs is completely irresponsible and likely to cause a crash. Yet, that could have been the cause of your accident, with you and your family paying the price.
- Failing to replace glazed brakes. One very common problem with brakes occurs when the brakes are overused and overheated. This can cause glazed brakes that feel hard to the touch but are really softer than properly maintained brakes. When brakes become glazed, resins and other binders in the braking system can melt or the brake pad material may crystallize—with the consequence that the brakes' performance will be compromised.
- Failing to load properly. When the truck’s load is unevenly distributed, the brakes can overheat and malfunction when they are needed most.
- Depowering the brakes. Some truck drivers and trucking companies deliberately depower the truck’s front brakes to save money on the maintenance and replacement costs of the brakes and tires. When this is done, the trucker is forced to rely on the trailer brakes and downshifting to slow and stop his truck—insufficient in an emergency situation—and even normal driving conditions.
Who Could Be Responsible for Your Injuries If Defective Truck Brakes Caused Your Crash?
More than one party could be liable for compensating you for your injuries depending on the problem with the brakes that caused your wreck. Possible defendants you may want to pursue include:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Truck mechanic and company responsible for truck maintenance
- Company that loaded the truck
- Manufacturer of the brakes and truck
An experienced truck accident attorney should complete a thorough investigation to determine how problems with the truck’s brakes caused or contributed to your crash. This will also tell him which parties should be sued. It is important to pursue your claim against all possible parties to maximize your chances of receiving a settlement that fully compensates you.
Our Truck Accident Attorneys Are Here to Fight the Truck Companies on Your Behalf
Do you suspect your truck accident was caused by faulty brakes or other truck driver negligence? We're here to defend the rights of the injured victims of trucking accidents in Georgia and South Carolina. Start an online chat or call us at 706-863-6600 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.