Trucker negligence is a major cause of truck accidents. However, sometimes the truck driver has followed the rules of the road and shown admirable care while behind the wheel. Still, an accident happens which injures innocent people. How did this happen, and who is legally at fault?
This is where a truck defect could be to blame. Commercial trucks like 18-wheelers and semis are large, with many different moving parts. These vehicles need to be in good working order, otherwise the vehicle could malfunction out on the road and end up running over smaller vehicles.
If you were hurt in a truck accident, poor maintenance could be the reason. At Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys, we always consider all possible reasons for a wreck. When mechanical issues make a truck unsafe, the truck owner could be at fault for failure to maintain their fleet, or a mechanic might share blame. Please call our firm today to discuss these and other issues with an Atlanta truck accident lawyer.
What Are Common Maintenance Issues?
Many things could go wrong with a truck, but some mechanical issues are more common than others. After a collision, we can work with experts to inspect the vehicles to see if substandard maintenance was a contributing factor. Here, we consider the most common malfunctioning parts on a large commercial truck.
Brakes are essential to any vehicle—but they are especially critical for large trucks. When brakes fail, heavy and large vehicles will plow through intersections and cause large pileups on the highway. Due to their size, trucks put tremendous stress on their brakes, which must be in tip-top working order, otherwise disaster will result.
The federal government has also recognized the importance of properly working brakes, which is why they have passed several regulations. Some regs make certain braking systems mandatory on trucks, while setting standards for how quickly the brakes must decelerate a vehicle.
Unfortunately, negligent maintenance can lead to brake failure:
- Failing to replace worn brake pads, which will ultimately make it harder for a truck to stop.
- Using the wrong brake pads for the truck, leading to outright brake failure.
- Using mismatched brake components, which increases stress on the braking system.
These problems are avoidable. Some mechanics are simply lax in the work they perform, or otherwise the trucking company is trying to save money and not fixing trucks at the first sign of wear.
A truck’s tires are the point where a truck contacts the road. Properly working tires are essential to safe driving. When tires are worn or improperly inflated, then a trucker will struggle to control their vehicle.
Two major problems are overinflation and underinflation. Truck tires will blow out, and a truck can become uncontrollable, due to a failure to maintain proper pressure.
Overinflated tires are a risk because they become distorted and fail to grip the road properly. They are also so inflexible that they could burst when temperatures rise or if the vehicle has been in motion for hours. Tires warm up with driving, and a tire with too much air at the start of the shift could blow after being on the road all afternoon.
Underinflated tires also create problems. Because there is insufficient air inside the tire, more pressure is transferred to the tire rims and axles. Steering capability decreases, and the truck might become unresponsive.
Worn treads are another major problem with tires. When tread is worn, the truck doesn’t grip the road. In rain or icy conditions, the truck could more easily slide out of control and slam into vehicles.
Unfortunately, many trucking companies try to cut corners and use old tires. These tires are less elastic than newer tires, and the risk of blowout increases.
The transmission system is an elemental part of any motor vehicle. Understood simply, the transmission transfers power generated by the engine to the wheels. The transmission literally gets a truck going.
Problems with the transmission system will obviously make a truck dangerous to drive. Unfortunately, the system will wear out like any other part of a truck, and overloaded cargo can make the transmission wear out sooner than expected.
A diligent mechanic should spot and fix transmission issues, and a trucking company should report issues to a mechanic as soon as possible for inspection. Unfortunately, failing to fix a transmission can lead to:
- Insufficient power when accelerating
- Transmission fluid leaks
- Inability to put the truck in gear
- Popping out of gear
Due to these problems, a trucker could end up crashing into another vehicle even while driving safely.
The cargo in the trailer is secured with ties and other equipment. Unfortunately, this safety equipment could become frayed or worn, which increases the risk of failure. Consequently, cargo might shift in the trailer, which will make the entire truck unstable. A semi-truck is at real risk of rolling over because of the design of the trailer, which could end up crushing any vehicles in adjacent lanes.
Who Is Responsible for Poor Maintenance?
In our experience, legal liability usually rests with the truck’s owner and the mechanic. A trucking company that insists on using used tires will be responsible for that choice when the tire blows and a trucker runs over a vehicle or pedestrian. However, a mechanic might also be to blame when he fails to perform his job carefully.
Ultimately, trucking companies owe the public a duty of care to only put safe vehicles on the road. They can’t delegate this duty to anyone else, and injured victims have a right to demand fair compensation when defects end up hurting them. This is the law of negligence, and it applies to trucking companies just as it does to truck drivers.
Contact an Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Our firm can review all the facts known and help you determine if you have a legal right to sue for an accident. Don’t let a trucking company ignore your injuries or try to bully you into a low settlement. Call Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys, (404) 689-0817, for a consultation.