Truck accident injuries due to brake failure are more prevalent than many assume.
Today’s commercial trucks weigh tens of thousands of pounds. To give you an idea, an 18-wheeler with no cargo weighs around 35,000 lbs. Fully loaded, the vehicle can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. With all this weight, the importance of properly-functioning brakes is paramount on the road.
When commercial trucks collide with passenger vehicles, the risk of extreme injury (and death) is very high. If you’ve been injured in a trucking accident –which was not your fault – you deserve to be compensated for your financial, physical, and mental damages.
In this post, we discuss the nature of commercial truck brake failure and the legal recourse with the help of a truck accident attorney. Let’s get moving.
How Do Commercial Truck Brakes Work?
Different classes of vehicles require different braking systems.
Braking systems on traditional passenger vehicles function with simple hydraulic pressure lines. Commercial trucks, on the other hand, require a much more robust braking system.
On large trucks, there is a compressor that creates and feeds air pressure to tanks – which then puts pressure on the brakes. These are called “air brake systems”. If the brakes are overused, the air in the compressor gets drained faster than it can be replenished. As a result, the brakes do not have adequate pressure to function properly – leading to truck brake failure.
How Often Do Brakes Fail on Trucks?
Truck drivers work very long hours on the road to meet tight deadlines. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck drivers are not allowed to be behind the wheel for more than 11 hours within 24 hours – with 10 consecutive off-duty.
Now, let’s take 11 hours and multiply it by the minimum speed limit of 55 mph. On average, we can assume that truck drivers cover around 600 miles in a full day on the road. With this much distance, the air brake system must withstand a great deal of strain.
Unfortunately, truck brake failure is very, very widespread. Data reported by Transport Topics states that air brake failure accounts for nearly 30 percent of truck accidents.
The causes of truck brake failure can be difficult to pinpoint. There are federal laws in place that require commercial trucks to be properly maintained and inspected to keep the public safe from truck accident injuries. However, drivers and trucking companies sometimes cut corners to save time and money.
If you suffered a serious injury from a trucking accident, you need to hold the liable party accountable. Speak to an experienced truck accident attorney to learn more about your options.
Are Truck Drivers Responsible for Brake Failure?
Yes and no. Liability for truck accident injuries due to brake failure typically falls on the company that owns the truck. However, fault may be placed on the driver for their actions or negligence.
Driver-Related Truck Brake Failure
Driver-related truck brake failure typically occurs when the driver uses the braking system improperly or presses down for extended periods of time. This is referred to as “riding the brakes” and is especially prevalent in areas with drastic elevation changes – like the mountains. Riding the brakes causes the system to fade quickly and creates performance issues. The runaway ramps you see when driving through the mountains are for commercial trucks experiencing brake failure.
Seasoned truck drivers know how to use alternative actions to slow the vehicle. Drivers that ruin the braking system are usually inadequately trained – and may be held accountable for negligence if their actions result in trucking accident injuries.
System-Related Truck Brake Failure
Equipment failures are very common in trucking accidents. The system may fail if something stops the flow of air necessary for the brakes to function. When this happens, the brakes can lock up and cause the driver to lose control.
System failures are commonly traced back to negligence in the inspection/maintenance process. Trucking companies are responsible to make sure the braking systems on their fleet function properly. Therefore, the company should be held liable for truck brake failure.
Trucking companies have legal defense teams to help them avoid truck accident lawsuits. If you suffered an injury due to equipment failures, you need to hire a skilled attorney to manage the claims process.
The Legal Steps to Earning Justice for Truck Accident Injuries
Earning justice for truck accident injuries is not an easy path. With the help of a truck accident lawyer, you will need to:
Establish the Duty of Care
Trucking companies have a responsibility – or duty of care – to keep their employees and other drivers safe on the road – per FMCSA trucking guidelines. Your attorney will begin the claims process by outlining these responsibilities.
Prove the Driver or Trucking Company Breached this Responsibility
This is where your truck accident lawsuit will get complicated. You will need to prove there was negligence by either the driver or trucking company that attributed to the truck brake failure.
The process will involve many moving parts and likely require expert opinions. These experts would be a traffic accident investigator and auto-mechanics professional. Your truck accident injury lawyer will work closely with these professionals to get to the root cause of the brake failure.
Your attorney will gather evidence to prove the driver and/or trucking company was responsible for the brake failure that caused your injury.
Show How the Truck Brake Failure Caused Your Injury
Once liability has been attributed, the next step is determining the extent of your injury. This will require insights from a medical professional. In short, the medical professional will need to provide proof explaining the extent of the injury, recommended treatment, and how the injury will affect you in the long run.
This is crucial in building your truck accident lawsuit. Your attorney will guide you through the process and manage communications with the medical professional.
Convey the Damages You Incurred
Victims are faced with many damages in truck accident injuries – physically, financially, and emotionally.
Building a personal injury claim requires you to place a monetary value on these damages. Damages in personal injury cases are categorized into two groups:
1. Economic damages
Economic damages refer to any damages that involve a clear price tag. These commonly include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Property damages
These damages are relatively easy to calculate. You’ll need to provide your truck accident injury lawyer with every invoice, receipt, estimate, paystub, etc.
2. Non-economic damages
These damages are much more subjective than economic damages. Common non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Reduced quality of life
- Emotional anguish
Due to the ambiguity of these damages, the at-fault party will do everything to deny coverage for these. Simply put, you NEED a skilled truck accident injury attorney to calculate these damages and negotiate for them. Trying to represent yourself will almost certainly leave you with subpar compensation.
These steps outline the basics of the legal proceeding in truck accident injuries. Your lawyer will manage the process from A to Z.
Get in Touch with an Expert Truck Accident Law Firm
Truck accident injuries can get very complicated. In addition to extreme injuries, a victim’s family may be dealing with a wrongful death lawsuit. Understanding the recourse for a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence is rarely clear cut – and insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to avoid liability.
At Midwest Injury Lawyers, we work closely with victims and families of truck accident injuries. Your primary focus should be recovery, leave the legal process to our experienced Indiana and Chicago truck accident lawyers.