When a 80,000-pound semi-truck comes barreling down the road, it is absolutely vital that their braking system is well taken care of and properly functioning. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case and a bad braking system can lead to a devastating crash – or even death – for those of us driving in traditionally sized vehicles. In 2015, over 3,800 people died in large truck accidents. This was 22 percent higher than 2009.
At the Cardone Law Firm in New Orleans, our truck accident attorney has over 40 years of litigation experience dealing with personal injury and car accident cases involving 18-wheelers. Our team of trustworthy lawyers understands that quickly acquiring evidence and investigating before the negligent party is able to make any changes to the scene is the key to developing a case. It is also worth noting that in cases involving semi-truck accidents and malfunctioning brakes, multiple parties may be held liable for the damage you have suffered.
What the Government Says
There are very strict standards and regulations that have been set by the federal government regarding the braking systems of 18-wheelers and other large commercial vehicles. This is completely necessary as loaded tractor-trailers can require 20-40% more distance to stop in comparison to a passenger vehicle; the distance can become even greater when it is raining and/or with poorly maintained brakes.
Two of the requirements set forth by law is that semi-trucks must be equipped with brake systems that create a specific braking force relative to its weight, and also that they should be able to adequately decelerate at a rate relative to its size. When these standards are not met, it can be the result of poor manufacturing and design, poor brake maintenance by the driver and/or company, or bad driving behaviors.
Brake failures rarely occur by “accident”. They tend to be the result of multiple issues that were not properly handled and which result in a horrendous accident. When companies and their drivers choose to replace brake systems only when absolutely necessary, then the vehicles become hazards to all drivers on the road.
Who Can Be Held Responsible For Your Truck Accident
Depending on the circumstances of semi-truck accident there may be several parties who may be held liable for the accident – especially if the wreck happened as a result of malfunctioning brakes. These parties include:
The driver of the semi-truck can be found responsible if evidence shows that they failed to properly adjust brake settings and/or drove recklessly. Another major proof of negligence can be found in whether a driver purposely depowered the front brakes and instead relied on the trailer brakes, as well as downshifting, to slow down. This sort of driving pattern is known to increase the risk of accidents.
Additionally, driving records can play a major role in proving that the driver was negligent. Write-ups, complaints against the semi-truck driver, a history of accidents, and drug/alcohol test results can all be used to strengthen your case.
Party Responsible for Brake Maintenance
This litigant can either be the owner-operator of the semi-truck or the leasing company of the vehicle. Ultimately, the party who is responsible for conducting mandated inspections, maintaining maintenance records, complying with federal recalls, and has legal ownership of the vehicle can be held responsible for the accident. Failure to comply with maintenance regulations can easily lead to equipment malfunctioning.
It’s also worth noting that some trucking companies can operate massive fleets – sometimes into the thousands. Because of this sheer number of vehicles, it becomes very easy to overlook the necessary maintenance needed to effectively handle so many vehicles. On top of that, tractor-trailer brakes require special parts and skilled laborers to maintain them. Companies may believe that the cost of maintenance and hiring specialized mechanics is too high and simply avoid doing what is required; brake linings should be replaced every 60,000 – 70,000 miles.
The Loading Company
There is a serious issue in the trucking/shipping industry that focuses on timeliness and speed. Workers in all aspects of the industry are encouraged to complete their tasks as quickly as possible in order to get the shipment out on the road and delivered ASAP. Sadly, this leads to missed protocols, rushed procedures, improper loading and overloading, and any other number of detrimental effects on the 18-wheeler.
This is especially true of the loading process as an overweight trailer can easily cause the braking system to malfunction. When you consider that these semi-trucks can already weigh up to 80,000 pounds when following the law, everything above that just increases the likelihood of catastrophe.
Issues with the brakes may stem from errors in the manufacturing and design process. When this is the case, then the accident falls under product liability. These types of cases arise because the manufacturer did not adequately design the brake and/or failed to meet federal manufacturing processes during the process.
Your comfort, health, recovery, and financial well being are of utmost importance to the Louisiana truck accident attorneys of Cardone Law Firm. We’ve spent decades fighting for those who have suffered a personal injury and need help when they can’t defend themselves.
For a free confidential consultation, please contact us today at 1-888-892-2736.