Brake issues are a contributing factor in 27% of truck accidents according to the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) 2010 Report, “Trucking 101,” all told, brake problems lead to over 40,000 trucking accidents each year.
There are a number of manners in which brakes fail. Contrary to misconception, catastrophic brake failure is very rare due to the many backup systems in place in modern trucks to prevent this. Instead there are braking deficiencies, most often caused by poor maintenance that lead to reduced braking power. This in turn leads to accidents.
Common Braking Deficiencies
As noted, it is not absolute brake failure but deficiencies that lead to trucking accidents. Among the best discussion that I could find on the many possible contributing factors on brake failure can be found at Crash Forensics. Among those noted in the discussion include improperly adjusted breaks, improper alignment of brake linings, oil contamination, sticking brake calipers, improperly maintained brake fluids, incomplete friction surface, among a number of other factors.
With each deficiency, and some may be cumulative depending on the maintenance of the truck’s brakes, will come reduced braking power. In other words, it will take longer to stop. When speaking of large trucks that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds or 40+ times greater than a passenger vehicle, any reduction in the ability to safely stop can have catastrophic consequences.
Investigating Brake Failure in Trucking Accidents
Anytime a trucking accident occurs and results in serious personal injury or wrongful death, all of the usual suspects should be closely investigated. With involvement in 27% of all truck crashes, the brakes are a very good place to start.
In order to determine whether brakes were involved in the accident, which more than likely would suggest maintenance issues, it is necessary to get brake maintenance and inspection documentation on the truck. It may also be necessary to hire a truck crash expert for the investigation of the causes of the accident, which include not just brake failure but other possible causes.
The first indication of brake problems may come from witnesses. There may be other drivers or pedestrians that witnessed driving behavior that indicated brake problems. In fact, the first witness to step up may be the truck driver. This would be particularly likely in cases where the driver is a contract driver as many drivers are.
In this case, they would likely shift blame and liability for serious injuries or death from themselves. The primary target of redirected blame would be the trucking company and/or the trucking maintenance and repair service company.
An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney is Highly Advised
Any kind of motor vehicle accident can grow quite complicated. They are often extremely contentious where there are very serious personal injuries or wrongful death involved. In case of a truck accident involving a passenger vehicle, serious personal injury or wrongful death is almost certainly the outcome.
Truck accidents can be even more difficult due to the nature of the defendant, the catastrophic nature of the injuries and the consequent liability that the trucking company and/or the insurance company may be facing. Truck companies and their insurers will fight tooth and nail to avoid paying full and fair compensation to a victim and his or her family. In fact, they would like nothing more than to pay nothing at all no matter what the cause of the accident.
An experienced personal injury attorney is essential in these cases. The Albuquerque law firm of Collins & Collins, P.C. has significant experience in trucking accidents, and car accidents generally. We can help! You can reach us at (505) 242-5958.