Defective equipment can cause truck accidents or make them worse. Both federal and state laws regulate the maintenance of commercial vehicles and passenger cars but the regulations and standards associated with commercial trucks are much more detailed and comprehensive in terms of safety features associated with the vehicle. The failure of some party or person to observe these standards and regulations can lead to liability if someone is harmed as a result. Also, if the driver or his employer is found in non-compliance, they can be fined for driving with defective equipment. Common types of equipment failures or defects include:
- Tire blowouts or tread separation;
- Steering failure;
- Broken defroster;
- Burned-out headlights, taillights, brake lights or turn signals;
- Brake failure;
- Defective straps or tie-downs that allow cargo to fall off the trailer;
- Defective anti-lock breaking system that causes the truck to jackknife;
- Broken mirrors; and
- Defective trailer hitch.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which reviewed a study of large truck accidents over a recent two-year span, 55% of large trucks involved in an accident had at least one mechanical violation. Nearly 30% of these trucks had at least one condition serious enough to immediately remove them from service. The study also showed that brake and lighting defects were the most common equipment failures. This news about defective brakes is especially critical since trucks require a much greater stopping distance than smaller passenger cars.
Several parties could be held liable for truck equipment failures which injure innocent parties. The trucker could be liable if he fails to inspect the equipment in a manner that satisfies applicable law or drives with known equipment defects. Every driver of a commercial vehicle is required to conduct a pre-trip inspection of his unit for purposes of making sure that his vehicle is functioning properly and that no defects exist that would pose a danger or hazard to themselves or other vehicles on the road. The trucking company could be liable for failing to fix or replace defective equipment in an attempt to cut costs or if it neglects to perform required routine maintenance checks.
While equipment failures often result in injury to unrelated third parties, truck drivers themselves may have a claim against their employers or the truck manufacturer if either of those parties knew of a hidden defect and failed to warn the trucker driver, who is injured as a consequence.
The truck manufacturer may be liable if it produces a faulty piece of equipment that directly causes injury or fails to enact a recall for a part it knows to be defective. Recalls may apply to both large trucks and smaller passenger vehicles. Since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was granted the authority to issue vehicle recalls in 1966, more than 390 vehicles, 46 million tires, 66 million pieces of equipment, and 42 million child safety seats have been recalled. If the recall comes too late, those injured as the result of defective equipment may be able to recover. In 2014, for example, General Motors set up such a fund for accidents related to defective ignition switches and is providing settlements to persons injured in Buicks, Chevrolets, Cadillacs, Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, and Saturns.Contact Our Defective Equipment Truck Accident Lawyers
The Birmingham truck accident lawyers at Hollis Wright are highly experienced in the science of accident investigation and reconstruction as well as determining the responsible parties. We have been involved in many cases that require significant and detailed forensic analysis. It is often necessary to retain a mechanical engineer to conduct a very technical inspection of the subject vehicle in order to determine whether defective equipment was present and caused the accident. We have access to some of the best experts in the country who can conduct a full scale investigation and inspection of the involved vehicles in order to determine the cause of the accident.
If you or a loved one were injured or killed in a truck accident involving defective equipment, then contact an experienced attorney at Hollis Wright today for a free consultation. If you retain an attorney at our firm, your case will be handled on a contingency fee basis which means you don’t pay a fee unless we obtain a monetary award or settlement on your behalf.