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Who Is Liable for a Truck Brake Failure Accident?

Brake failures can lead deadly truck accidents. Many times, the reason for a brake failure accident can be a combination of defective brakes and how the driver responded to the dangerous situation. It can also happen when brakes are not maintained properly.

Brakes on large commercial trucks differ from average passenger vehicles. Most of these trucks are built with air brakes, while smaller vehicles have hydraulic brakes. Air brakes are much more complicated, and the manufacturers who make them are heavily regulated. These brakes use air compressor pumps that force pressure into air tanks; this creates pressure on the brakes when a driver uses the pedal to slow down and stop. Air brakes have to meet minimum safety standards, like specific minimum rates for deceleration and braking force. Those that do not meet these are defective.

These defects can be built into brakes during the manufacturing process; it is not unheard of for truck parts to have design problems or be improperly built, as there are numerous components and room for mistakes. If truck braking systems are not regularly serviced in the proper ways, that can also cause these parts to be defective. There are federal laws requiring truck owners to maintain brakes, but some cut corners, and this is a serious problem.

 Here is a short list of common truck brake defects:

  • Air pressure that is too high or low.
  • Leaks in brake lines.
  • Overheated brakes.
  • Poor brake adjustment.
  • Worn-out components.

Determining liability in any type of truck accident case can be challenging because there can be several parties involved. Besides the truck driver, there might be a trucking company, truck manufacturer, parts manufacturer, and maintenance provider. You (your lawyer) will need to find out if the driver owns the truck or is employed by a transportation company.

Federal laws also mandate that truck owners and drivers keep logs, and these can provide valuable information, like the last time the brakes were serviced. Driver logs can have discrepancies with company logs and maintenance logs, which can be key evidence for showing which party was responsible.

How Do Defective Brakes and Truck Drivers Cause Accidents?

Large trucks take longer to stop than passenger vehicles, and defective brakes can increase the crucial stopping time. Uneven brakes can make trucks jackknife or overturn if one part of the truck stops faster than the other does. Defective brakes are also dangerous when tractor-trailers are going down hills. The descent should be slow, with the driver using low gear instead of the brakes. If a driver mistakenly applies the brakes while driving down a hill, the brakes might fail if they are defective.

Overusing the brakes can increase wear and tear because the air pressure can get used up before the compressor can refill the air tanks. Without that pressure, the brakes will not work properly. According to Transport Topics, about 30 percent of all truck accidents are caused by air brake failure, and these include intersection crashes, rear-end collisions, and speeding collisions.

Evidence Needed to Prove Liability

It is crucial to get information at the scene if possible, including the trucker’s commercial driver’s license number. Anyone who witnessed what happened can be spoken to, and you will want their contact information. Take photos of the accident, including vehicle damage, injuries, and road conditions.

It is common for truck accident survivors to be taken by ambulance for emergency medical services, so gathering evidence can be impossible. The police report should have the basic information you need, plus the officer’s perspective about what happened. You can ask your passengers to help with this if they are able to remain at the scene. Keep copies of all your medical records, and hold on to the statements and receipts as well.

How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help Me?

After a truck accident happens, you can phone your auto insurance provider to share the basic facts without offering any opinions. Waiting too long might raise questions, and you only need to report the incident and let them know that you are being treated and if there is property damage.

It is wise to contact a truck accident lawyer during this early phase. An attorney can gather evidence and investigate so you can focus on your recovery. If there were no witnesses, your lawyer might suggest hiring expert witnesses to appear in court if a settlement cannot be reached. These witnesses can recreate the accident scene, explain exactly how the crash caused your injuries and property damage, and how a brake failure and/or driver error was the main cause.

Dayton Truck Accident Lawyers at Wright & Schulte LLC Represent Clients Who Have Survived Truck Brake Failure Accidents

If you sustained serious injuries from a truck brake failure accident, you might be entitled to compensation. To learn more, contact our skilled Dayton truck accident lawyers at Wright & Schulte LLC. Call us at 937-222-7477 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Dayton, Ohio, we serve clients in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Centerville, Toledo, Youngstown, and Miamisburg.