Trucking accidents are often significantly more serious compared to car accidents. This is, in part, because trucks are much larger and often travel at higher speeds. Because commercial trucks spend so much time on the road, mechanical failures often result in trucking accidents.
The most common mechanical failures on trucks are due to defective tires and brake problems or failures. In fact, brakes are the cause behind roughly 30 percent of all truck accidents. These problems might include complete failure, bad brake adjustment, or other related issues. When brakes fail, the legal terrain can get complicated, so using a trucking accident attorney to help with liability is often a good idea.
Potential Parties in a Brake Failure Case
Trucking litigation can be complicated, but when it involves a defective part or product, the complexity increases. If you have been involved in an accident with a truck that was due to brake failure, several parties may be brought into the lawsuit. These parties may include:
- The company that loaded the truck
- The company that owns the truck (if different from the driver)
- The driver
- The company or person that is responsible for maintaining the brakes
- The break manufacturers
All of these entities likely have their own insurance companies as well, which further complicates this type of case. The insurance companies may also fight among themselves over which company is liable for the accident.
If you are the victim, it may not matter which insurance company takes responsibility. However, if certain terms in a policy would deny or limit coverage, then you may have an interest in which insurance company is involved. Policy limits may also play a role as well.
Responsibility of the Brake Manufacturer
In situations where the brakes are considered “faulty” or “defective,” the brake manufacturer may be the real cause of a trucking accident. There are certain federal guidelines that brake manufacturers must meet, and a failure to meet these requirements can ultimately result in legal liability.
In brake manufacturer cases, the victim often must show that the brakes were designed poorly or in an unsafe manner, or that this particular set of brakes was somehow defective or was not manufactured correctly.
Trucking Company and Driver Fault
The trucking company or the driver may sometimes take actions that result in trucking accidents. To save money, some drivers or even companies will disable front brakes and rely on trailer brakes, or downshifting, to slow the vehicle. This dangerous practice allows the driver or trucking company to save money because they do not have to replace their brakes as often.
The trucking company or driver is often responsible for maintaining their truck, which includes brake replacement and general maintenance. Failure to conduct this basic maintenance can result in accidents. Generally, drivers keep a log of when they last replaced or checked their brakes—this is required by federal law. This log is good evidence in a trucking accident case if you are alleging poor maintenance.
Determining who or what caused a brake-related trucking accident can be a challenge. An experienced trucking accident attorney can help you with this complicated process, so you do not have to go it alone.