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Defective Brakes in Commercial Trucks and Assigning Liability

A common reason for commercial truck crashes is equipment failure, with brake failure standing apart as the leading cause of mechanically related truck accidents. The Large Truck Causation Study (LTCCS), issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), included data collected on fatal commercial motor vehicle (CMV) crashes over a period of several years. The results revealed that “more than one-third of the 407 trucks inspected by the Michigan FACT team had maintenance defects that would have placed them out-of-service (OOS) if they had been inspected before the crash.” Out of all the violations, the highest percentage of violations – 32.7 percent – involved faulty brakes.

As the victim of a truck accident in Atlanta, Savannah, or anywhere in Georgia in which defective brakes were involved, it is important to work with an attorney who not only handles truck accident cases, but also product liability claims. Assigning liability is a critical component of these types of cases.

Legal responsibility for truck crash injuries caused by defective brakes

One or more parties may bear legal responsibility for a truck accident when the brakes malfunction, or are found to be defective. These parties may include:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company
  • The brake manufacturer
  • The company who loaded the truck (if different from the trucking company)
  • The owner-operator or other party responsible for brake maintenance

Let’s examine more closely the potential liability of these parties:

Truck drivers and trucking companies

Some truck drivers and trucking companies exercise great care in the maintenance of their vehicles. However, it takes only one negligent act to lead to a catastrophic crash. Inadequate maintenance of brakes and other component parts may give rise to a claim for negligent maintenance.

Truck owners and trucking companies are required to have their vehicles’ brakes maintained in a prescribed manner. They are also required maintain compliance records in accordance with federal requirements. Routine inspections are required to ensure safety. Any failure to properly maintain truck brakes can lead to brake failure and subsequent injuries for which the truck driver or trucking carrier may be held liable.

The brake manufacturer

A truck’s braking system is subject to specific federal regulations to ensure its safe operation. The brakes must have the following capabilities and characteristics:

  • Match a particular braking force based upon the truck’s weight
  • Decelerate at a certain rate based upon the truck’s size
  • Have an anti-locking breaking system to avoid jack-knifing
  • Meet specified requirements for automatic brake adjustments

If the brakes of the truck involved in an accident do not conform to required federal safety standards, you may have a legitimate truck part defect claim against the brake manufacturer. You may also have a claim if the brakes fail because they wear away too quickly, if a piece of the system breaks, or if the manual does not warn of any potential problems that could arise if they are not properly maintained.

To ensure compliance with safety requirements, the government conducts investigations and tests of brakes. If they uncover defective brakes, they have the power to issue a recall. Recalled brakes can serve as evidence in your case.

An experienced truck crash attorney from our team at Harris Lowry Manton LLP can develop a strong case on your behalf. We investigate your case, scrutinize the facts, and hold those who are legally liable for your losses accountable, helping you secure the compensation you deserve.

To set up a free appointment about your case, call our law office in Savannah today at 912-651-9967 or in Atlanta at 404-961-7650. You can also send us a message through our contact form.


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