Can Mechanical Failure Be The Reason for My Accident?
If you’ve recently been involved in a truck accident, you may be wondering if the accident was caused by mechanical failure. In 2019, more than 4,100 people died in large truck crashes in the United States, with more than 118,000 trucks involved in accidents that caused an injury. Unfortunately, mechanical failure is one of the most common reasons for truck accidents in the U.S., with issues involving brakes and tires being particularly common.
With over 80 years of combined experience representing truck accident victims across the nation, the Truck Accident Law Firm is the preeminent law firm that other attorneys turn to for help. We focus on serving Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, New York, though we also serve clients nationwide.
In this article, we’ll review some of the key most common reasons for truck mechanical failures. We’ll also review the situations in which a truck company, manufacturer, or other party may be held liable for damages that resulted from a mechanical failure that led to a truck accident.
What are the most common types of maintenance and mechanical failures that result in truck accidents?
Some of the most common types of mechanical issues that may result in a truck accident include:
- Brake failure
- Trailer hook up failure
- Loss of running lights or directional signals
- Tire blowouts and tire tread separation
- Truck engine overheating
- Truck transmission failure
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is tasked with regulating the trucking industry for the safety of truck drivers and others on the road. FMCSA rules include maximum hours of service to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue. Additionally, the truckers and carriers must comply with regulations regarding inspection, repair, and maintenance. These rules forbid any unsafe operation that is likely to cause an accident or vehicle breakdown. The FMCSA rules also maintain a list of parts and accessories necessary for safe operation that must be present and in good condition.
These parts include:
- Brakes and brake system components
- Signal and lights
- Safety equipment
What Does Maintenance Neglect Look Like In Tires?
Tires are extremely important to the safe operation of trucks. From supporting massive loads and miles of travel, semi-truck tires should be replaced, inspected, and repaired thoroughly and regularly. There are a wide variety of rules that must be followed regarding truck tire maintenance. Unfortunately, problematic tire maintenance can lead to disaster. Improper maintenance of semi-truck tires can manifest in a variety of ways, such as late or missed tire inspections or failure to maintain tire pressure.
In fact, data shows that about 80% of the roadside tire failures result from creeping air loss. As one might expect, the chief cause of truck tire air loss is lack of essential maintenance. Tire pressures should be checked every week, at least. Fortunately, regular truck tire maintenance can greatly reduce the likelihood of an accident.
In addition to maintaining correct tire pressure, it’s essential to have the right tires for the job. If a truck runs approximately half of its operation time in an off-road environment, but the tires are strictly on-highway tires, this presents a potential tire-killing situation. Taking advantage of an application-specific tire will significantly help with the tire’s — and ultimately the vehicle’s — performance and productivity.
Any condition causing truck tires to fail to run straight and make constant and consistent contact with the pavement will also accelerate wear. Misalignment is another issue that causes premature wear on tires. Tire misalignment can occur in many forms, from drive axles being out of alignment to bad steering geometry. Loose wheel bearings, bent axles, or axles that flex excessively can also cause rapid wear of the inner shoulder of the inner tire on a dual wheel. In addition, worn shock absorbers will begin to allow a tire to bounce more than it should, impacting the tire’s contact, and thus its overall wear.
How Does a Driver’s Log Book Help You in a Case?
All commercial trucking companies require drivers to carry and maintain log books during each trip. A log book records each trip a driver takes, how long they were driving, what they were carrying, and where they were going. This book also records all maintenance, repairs, and upkeep done to the vehicle. Surveys prove that between 25% and 75% of drivers violate these rules, failing to complete required daily inspections or to properly update their log books on a regular basis.
In addition to conducting daily inspections and recording the results, drivers must not need repairs or truck malfunctions in their log book. Because of this, the details in a log book can be a powerful tool for attorneys after a truck accident. Log books can be used to show if a trucking company failed to properly maintain their vehicle, which can often be used to prove negligence. It can also show that a truck driver intentionally drove their vehicle when they knew it could be dangerous.
What are the Most Common Examples of Trucking Negligence?
Some of the most common examples of negligence leading to truck mechanical failure includes:
- Drivers skipping daily inspections: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers to document daily vehicle inspections. A driver vehicle inspection report must be completed at the end of each work day and submitted to the carrier. A driver should not work until they are confident the cab and trailer are safe to operate.
- Maintenance people do not complete assignments or do so poorly: Truck companies may be guilty of negligence if their employees intentionally do not fulfill regular repairs or maintenance tasks in between trips. Even if a contractor employee makes a repair, they may sometimes make the repair incorrectly, which may leave the vehicle in an even more damaged state. Incorrectly completed repairs are another common cause of trucking accidents, and can often lead to liability for trucking companies, and sometimes for contractors, particularly if the repairs are done through a large contracting firm.
- Carriers ignore notifications of defects: If a driver or maintenance personnel notices an issue on or in the vehicle, they notify the carrier it needs to be looked at further or repaired. However, if this notification is ignored or forgotten, it becomes negligent.
Failure to inspect the brakes: Brakes are one of the most important parts of a truck. Unfortunately, many trucking companies do not require regular brake inspections, or often skip required inspections.
- Failure to inspect and replace tires: Considering the weight of trucks and the speed at which they move, truckers tires need to be in great condition to make trips safely. However, failure to inspect tire tread and pressure as often as they should can be catastrophic.
Who is Responsible for Truck Mechanical Defects?
In most cases, a specific employee or group of employers are directly responsible for the maintenance of a particular truck. Legally however, the trucking company in question is typically responsible for any actions trucking employees complete while on the clock. Depending on the situation, the driver, a member of the maintenance team, of the trucking company will be responsible for the accident and any injuries you may experience. While a specific worker may be directly responsible for your accident, it’s much easier to achieve compensation from the employing business.
In addition, it’s important to realize that truck inspection violations and neglected maintenance are quite common. Therefore, these issues are contributing factors to a large percentage of trucking accidents. Since these factors are clear signs of company negligence, lawsuits can often be filed to recover damages. These damages can cover medical bills, loss of income and other expenses associated with the accident.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a trucking accident, the lawyers at The Truck Accident Law Firm are here to help. We welcome your questions! Fill out our contact form to Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer, or phone us directly at 888-511-TRUCK (8782). We are committed to helping you get the maximum compensation for your injuries, including medical bills, lost income, disability, disfigurement, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.