In the case of a truck accident caused by brake failure, there may be more parties to hold responsible. In a typical truck accident case, you may seek damages from the truck driver, their employer trucking company, and their insurance companies. However, if the truck’s brake failure contributed to the crash, you may be entitled to sue the vehicle’s manufacturer or the brake manufacturer as well.
Truck Accidents Caused by Equipment Failure
The federal government puts out regulations that govern truckers across the country. The goals of these regulations are to make the roads and highways of the United States safer. Since each truck travels millions of miles each year, and there are millions of trucks on the road, these regulations may have a significant impact on drivers across the country. Many of the rules deal with equipment on the truck, such as lights, tires, and brakes, and work to ensure that they are safely installed and maintained.
The government agency that puts out safety regulations is called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This agency was formed to create safer trucking rules. Its regulations have the force of law across the country. Most of these rules are recorded in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
CFR § 396 gives guidance for inspection, repair and maintenance for commercial trucks. This regulation first requires that the drivers, officers, mechanics, and others involved with the trucking company understand the maintenance rules. Second, the rules require that every carrier company “must systematically inspect, repair, and maintain … all motor vehicles….” This does not give specifics, since each fleet of trucks may require different levels of maintenance. For example, a company with only three trucks may need each truck maintained more often than a fleet with over 100 trucks.
One maintenance rule specifically requires the truck’s parts to be in working order. CFR § 396.3(a)(1) requires that “[p]arts and accessories shall be in safe and proper operating condition at all times.” This means that any truck that is put on the road with faulty or damaged parts is automatically in violation of this regulation. Every motor carrier must also have certified brake inspectors. § 396.25 requires these inspectors to have special certifications and training specifically to avoid brake failure while making sure that brakes are safe.
With these regulations, it is very difficult for any trucking company to deny liability for putting a truck on the road with unsafe brakes. These rules work to keep manufacturers on their toes, constantly inspecting and ensuring the safety of their trucks and drivers. Failing to do so may make them liable for accidents their drivers or faulty equipment cause.
Suing Trucking Companies and Brake Manufacturers for Injuries
If the trucking company was negligent in maintaining brake systems on one of their trucks, the above regulations may help prove your case against them. When you sue a trucking company, you need to prove that they did something wrong to cause the accident – that they were “negligent.” Failing to follow regulations for brake upkeep and safety should qualify as negligence.
However, the trucking company may not be the only negligent party in a brake failure case. If they put fresh, new brakes on a truck, the manufacturer of the brakes may be partly to blame for your crash. If the trucking company did everything that it could – or was only partly responsible for the brake failure – you may be able to sue the brake manufacturer as well. The brake manufacturer would have to pay for its share of damages if the brakes were faulty or improperly manufactured.
Ultimately, you may be able to collect whatever damages you are entitled to. The split of who will pay for damages depends on how much they contributed to the crash. For instance, if the truck that hit you had faulty brakes, but also had a drunk driver, both parties may share liability. Alternatively, the court may decide that the manufacturer is fully responsible since the truck would have crashed even if the driver were sober. Full damages on your case may include damages for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Talk to a lawyer about what your specific case may be worth, and to discuss possible limits on damages in your state.
Truck Accident Injury Lawyers
The attorneys at the Reiff Law Firm represent injured truck accident victims across the country. If you were injured in a truck crash caused by brake failure or malfunctions, or you lost a loved one to a tractor-trailer accident, talk to an attorney today. Our lawyers offer free consultations on new cases. Call us at (215) 246-9000 or fill out our online contact from.