Trucking accidents rarely have a positive ending due to the sheer size and weight of a loaded 18-wheeler vs. the passenger car which may weigh only 2500 pounds. Of the over three and a half million truck drivers in the United States it is estimated that approximately one in ten are independent owner-operators while the vast majority work for one of the half a million trucking companies across America. Truck drivers generally make around 30-35 cents per mile, which averages out to only about $40,000 per year, and they only get paid for the time they are on the road—a significant factor in truck drivers who drive while sleepy or exhausted.
Of the more than half a million trucking accidents which take place each year there will be approximately 5,000 fatalities and untold serious injuries, most of which can completely alter the course of a person’s life. While there are a variety of issues which contribute to these serious trucking accidents such as driver negligence, inexperience and overloaded cargo, one factor centers around manufacturing defects in the truck or its components. These defects are responsible for a fair number of the trucking accidents which take place in our nation every year.
There are many parts on a large commercial truck which can fail through a defect or weakness, and these defective parts may be the root cause of the trucking accident or may have exacerbated the crash effects. The primary parts of a truck which are noted for having defects or failing include the brakes, tires, transmission and steering. Add to this mix other external issues such as defective truck pallet jacks, dock ramps or forklifts, and you truly have a recipe for disaster when all components are not routinely and thoroughly inspected.
When truck brakes fail, it could be the responsibility of the truck driver, the establishment who was responsible for loading the truck, the mechanic who was accountable for brake maintenance, or the company which manufactured the brakes. In some instances, owner-operators of large commercial trucks deliberately depower the front brakes, relying on the brakes of the trailer or downshifting to slow and stop the truck. This can be done to minimize the expense of brake replacements due to constant wear and tear.
A large commercial truck must have the ability to come to a complete stop from a speed of 20 mph at a proportion which is relative to the size of the truck, must meet system requirements related to the automatic braking adjustments on the truck and must exhibit a particular braking force based on the weight of the truck. If the truck’s brakes do not meet the federally mandated standards, then a person who is injured in a truck accident which can be directly tied to defective brakes may have a claim against the manufacturer.
There are some instances of defective brakes which have already fallen under federal governmental recall, meaning it was evident that the brakes were defective. Even though federal regulations also mandate that these companies keep meticulous records of brake maintenance on their fleet, these guidelines are not always adhered to. Finally, a truck’s cargo which has been improperly loaded causing cargo distribution problems can cause the brakes to overheat and ultimately malfunction.
If you’ve ever noticed a truck driver stopped by the side of the road, hitting each tire with a sort of club and wondered what they were doing, they are likely checking the tires to determine whether they are maintaining the proper pressure. When a truck tire blows out, you will see the evidence in the heavy strips of tire which litter the road. Blowouts can be caused by a defect in the tire, lack of proper tire maintenance, a trucking company who mounts mismatched tires with substantially dissimilar wear or when radial tires are mixed with bias tires on the same axle. A tire with any of these problems can fail and result in loss of control of the truck, leading to a catastrophic accident involving those who share the road.
If a truck manufacturing defect played a part in your truck accident you could have a product liability claim against the company who manufactures the truck component as well as simultaneous claims which may be filed against the driver, the trucking company and any other parties who were party to the accident. It is very important to seek the services of a highly experienced Longmont personal injury attorney who has a solid background in trucking accidents. Your life has been forever changed by your accident, and you need professional help in the form of an advocate who will fight aggressively for your rights. Contact the law firm of Fuicelli & Lee, PC, for a free case evaluation. You pay nothing unless you receive a financial settlement or award. Call our office at 303-355-7202 or fill out our confidential contact form.
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