Can Mechanical Failure be the Reason for a Truck Accident?September 20, 2021
Although the main cause of truck accidents is driver error, it is not the only reason why these unfortunate events happen. Other reasons include poor weather conditions, unavoidable debris in the road, a trucking company’s negligence, and mechanical failure. That last cause can be difficult to detect and can be caused by negligence, meaning that injured parties can encounter hurdles when attempting to prove it in a lawsuit. A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer could be the best option for help in these situations.
What are the Main Reasons for Mechanical Failures?
A faulty or defective tire can cause a dangerous failure or blowout, and the risk for this happening increases with the significant weight that trucks carry. Truck drivers can easily lose control in poor weather conditions and on rough terrain too, leading tires to fail. Drivers, owners, and operators are responsible for maintaining these tires, but do not always do so. Companies may not want to invest the time or money to replace old tires, and drivers may sometimes ignore warnings that this should be done. Tires should have their treads and tire pressure monitored regularly, and they should also be rotated and replaced as needed.
Brake failures are also common and can be due to thinning brake pads, faulty brake lines, leaking brake fluid, and worn discs. Since trucks need about 40 percent more distance to come to a stop than passenger vehicles do, brake problems can be extremely hazardous. Besides that, if the driver is not properly trained to avoid brake failure, an accident could be even worse.
Other reasons for truck mechanical failures include coupling failures that make the trailers loosen and/or become unhinged, broken headlights or taillights, suspension failure, steering failures, and transmission failures. These trucks are made to carry heavy loads, but too much weight and improperly loaded cargo can cause a transmission malfunction. Even if a truck passes inspection, excessive cargo in the back can burn through a newly installed transmission quickly.
How Does Negligence Lead to Mechanical Failures?
One example of carrier negligence is when the driver or other personnel sees a problem, notifies the carrier, and nothing is done to correct it. Maintenance workers can also neglect to complete certain maintenance and/or repairs for which they are assigned. Or they might complete the work the wrong way, which can compound the original problem.
Skipping regular inspections can also be considered as negligence. Regular, consistent inspections are crucial for truck safety, yet drivers and companies skip them to save time and money. Failing to inspect the brakes, tires, and other components is not wise and can lead to mechanical failures. Therefore, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates that truck drivers document vehicle inspections every single day the truck needs to be driven. These reports should then be given to the truck carriers. If a cab and trailer are not in safe operating condition, the vehicle should not go on the road.
Truck Mechanical Failure Liability
After truck accidents occur, investigations are frequently required to determine the root cause of the crash. It can be a complex undertaking that can take a bit of time and research. Although truck drivers have significant responsibilities for checking their trucks before driving them each day, they are generally not held liable for service, inspections, maintenance, or repairs. The entities that handle that, such as trucking companies or inspection agencies, might be more at fault in many cases, but the responsibility for failure could also be shared.
The FMCSA stipulates that all motor carriers and equipment providers have to systematically inspect, repair, and maintain their motor vehicles, and this also applies to subcontractors that perform the repairs, maintenance, and inspections. In essence, all parts of the truck must be in safe, operating conditions at all times. If every company and provider followed this to the letter, there would be very few truck mechanical failures and resultant accidents. As in any business, the goal is to be successful, but cutting corners on safety puts lives at risk.
Who Might be Responsible for a Truck Accident?
In addition to regularly maintaining their fleets to comply with FMCSA regulations, motor carriers must keep accurate records of all these inspections and repairs. Since much of this work is subcontracted to other vendors, it can be harder for carriers to monitor the work that is being completed. A repair shop might perform poor work, but the records may not reflect that. A plaintiff would need to prove how something like that may have happened and caused the mechanical failure.
The companies that manufacture trucks have been known to produce unsafe or defective products, whether it be a major part, smaller component, or an accessory. When made aware of the problem, they must stop the manufacturing process and notify the public as soon as possible. Once the carrier is notified, they then need to take the proper actions as well, continuing the notification down the supply and usage chain. Those defective parts often come from contracted parts suppliers, who would be responsible for letting the public know if any parts have defective design or manufacture.
Finally, truck drivers can be held liable to truck accidents for mechanical failures if their trucks were apparently not in good working order before they started their routes. Their inspections are not as detailed as those handled by their employers and subcontractors but are still necessary. Besides the issue of mechanical failures, these drivers must be properly licensed and trained, not take risks on the road, and be well prepared to respond should a mechanical failure occur while they behind the wheel.
After a Truck Accident
Some truck accidents are serious enough to cause fatalities or personal injury significant enough to prevent victims from moving or being moved. The first thing to do after an accident is to call 911 and request emergency assistance. Passengers should all be checked to see if they are okay, and if it is safe to do so, the vehicles should be moved to the side of the road or another close, safe location.
Police officers will arrive, secure the scene, and complete an accident report. The passengers should exchange their contact and insurance information quickly, and it is always a good idea to have as many pictures of the accident scene as possible. Taking photos of the vehicles and damage is important, but it also helps to snap shots of the street, skid marks, license plates, weather conditions, and anything else that can help to show liability. During this time, it might be hard to remain calm, especially when there are injuries. Even so, getting angry with a law enforcement officer, driver, or passenger can be detrimental to a case. Keeping calm and providing short, factual answers is the safest move.
If there were witnesses, their contact information should be obtained before leaving the scene. As a final note, even if there are no apparent injuries, accident victims should get medical evaluations as soon as possible. Some injuries are not immediately apparent, and not getting evaluated treated right away could impact any future insurance payments, settlements, or lawsuits.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims Injured in Truck Accidents in Maryland
If you have been injured in a truck accident in Maryland, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Our team has handled countless truck accident cases and are ready to help you with your case. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.