Most of the time, accidents involving large tractor-trailers are caused by a host of factors related to the driver, be it fatigue, daydreaming, aggressive driving or intoxication. But another significant contributor to these devastating accidents includes defective or poorly maintained brakes.
According to a study by the U.S. Department of Transportation, approximately 29.4% of large truck accidents are caused by brakes that fail due to either a defect or poor maintenance.
Brakes on large trucks are much different that they are on regular passenger cars, trucks and SUVs. Air brakes are in fact the most common on big-rigs, but since they consist of many different parts, many factors can cause brake failure – poor air pressure, condensation and worn seals are just a few reasons that can lead to brake failure.
It’s important to note that a complete loss of braking power is pretty rare…these systems are designed so that a complete catastrophic failure is extremely rare. In most cases where the brakes are the primary cause of the accident, the brakes did work to some extent but were insufficient to stop the truck in a short enough time.
Often times in a truck accident, the driver may try and claim the brakes were defective to try and deflect blame from their actions. In a truck accident where the brakes didn’t adequately stop the big-rig before the crash, there are several sources of liability. In some instances, a combination of different parties can be liable for the brake failure and thus, the accident.
One source of course is the driver, and by extension the trucking company.
Proper maintenance is absolutely critical to ensuring brakes work to their maximum efficiency. Brake shoes for example can have missing or broken components that can lead to a failure. Or, air leaks in the brake system can lead to a reduction in braking power.
The manufacturer of the brakes can also be held liable too, especially if their products did not meet minimal safety standards. But even if the brakes did meet minimum standards, a defect in the manufacturing process can occur, which would make the manufacturer liable.
Also, if another company improperly loaded the truck, they can be held liable too. If a load isn’t evenly distributed in the trailer, the brakes that bear the bulk of the load can in fact overheat and fail.
It’s important to understand these different parties because often times, each one will try and deflect blame onto the other.
If you’ve been critically injured, your primary concern isn’t who’s liable for your medical costs, property damage and lost wages, but how you’re going to be made whole again following a truck accident.
This is one reason why it’s critical you hire a truck accident attorney familiar with both U.S. and Colorado laws pertaining to big-rig parts and maintenance.