Have you been injured in an accident involving a truck that was due to poor maintenance? You may have grounds for a lawsuit. Contact Burg Simpson to see how we can help.

Commercial trucks spend most of their time out on the roadway. This heavy mileage combined with poor truck maintenance will eventually take its toll on gears, brakes, steering systems, and numerous other mechanical parts. When you take an oversized and enormously heavy vehicle transporting tens of thousands of pounds of cargo over a long distance and throw a mechanical malfunction into the mix, you have a truck accident waiting to happen.

There are numerous state and federal regulations that govern the inspection and maintenance of commercial trucks. Unfortunately, trucking companies sometimes delay these inspections along with necessary upgrades, repairs, and maintenance in order to save money and economize on time; an act of negligence that can lead to a serious truck accident caused by a tire blowout or another vehicle malfunction.

If you were injured in a truck accident, a poor truck maintenance accident attorney from Burg Simpson is able to help. We have the knowledge and the resources needed to conduct a full investigation of your accident, including determining whether or not it was caused by negligent maintenance, and who is responsible for your injuries and other damages.

How Can Poor Maintenance Cause a Truck Accident?

Commercial trucks travel several hundred miles every day while transporting heavy loads of freight. Just as with a car or any other kind of motor vehicle, trucks have to be properly maintained in order to be safe to drive and comply with state and federal regulations. Sadly, there are many trucking companies that do not regularly inspect their fleet or abide by the federal and state laws that have been laid out for them.

What Maintenance and Equipment Problems Can Lead to a Truck Accident?

There are many different systems and parts that can fail or break down while a truck is on the roadway. These problems can cause truck operators to lose control of their vehicles. They can also impact the safety of the truck driver as well as other people on the road in numerous ways.

Equipment problems stemming from a lack of proper maintenance can lead to bigger issues including:

Tire Blowouts

The tires installed on cabs and their trailers naturally wear down after thousands of miles of driving. If a truck’s tires are not replaced as needed, they can experience a blowout on the roadway. This can result in the truck driver losing control of the truck. It can also cause vehicle rollovers and other kinds of accidents. Tread separation could also happen, leaving shreds of truck tires in the roadway creating a dangerous obstacle for other drivers.

Brake Failure

Most tractor-trailers use air brakes to ensure that truck drivers have enough power to slow down and bring their heavy vehicles to a complete stop. Air brakes will not work properly if they have mechanical issues like brake shoes that are worn out, air lines that leak, or various other malfunctions. Not being able to brake properly can make it difficult or even impossible for a truck driver to avoid an accident.

Engine Failure

Engine failure can happen for lots of reasons. This malfunction not only affects the truck driver's control of their vehicle, but it can also give rise to other safety problems. For instance, an oil leak might cause the truck's engine to light on fire. The resulting smoke can then obscure the trucker’s vision, causing them to crash into another vehicle.

Trailer Decoupling

Coupling systems are designed to hold the truck's trailer in place securely while still making it possible for the truck driver to navigate turns and bends in the road. When the coupling system fails, it can cause the trailer to detach from the truck’s cab and crash into other vehicles.

Broken Freight Securement

Faulty straps, chains, and other devices used to hold the truck's freight securely in place can fail. When this happens, freight can shift during transport. Falling, loose, improperly secured, or unsecured freight is liable to cause serious injuries to the occupants of nearby vehicles as well as heavy damage to the vehicles themselves.

Steering System Malfunctions

A truck driver must be in control of his vehicle at all times. Even seemingly insignificant issues with the steering system of a commercial truck could have extreme consequences that directly impact the driver's ability to avoid a serious accident.

A mandate issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that all trucking companies must routinely inspect their fleet, ensure their trucks are properly maintained, and make any necessary repairs in a timely fashion.

Similarly, truck drivers are required to inspect a wide range of vehicle features and parts every single day and include their findings in a daily report. These daily inspections should include the service and parking brakes, the horn, tires, mirrors, steering mechanism, emergency equipment, wheels, and windshield wipers. It is not only considered negligent to operate a commercial truck that needs maintenance or repairs or has not been inspected at all, but it is also illegal and could constitute negligence per se.

Federal Laws and Commercial Truck Regulations

There are a considerable amount of regulations that freight companies are required to obey when it comes to the inspection and maintenance of their commercial fleet. These rules apply to any vehicle that is owned by a freight company and to any vehicle that is leased for 30 or more consecutive days.

Some of the more notable Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations are:

  • Routinely maintaining, inspecting, and repairing the truck
  • Verifying and examining truck accessories and truck parts to ensure they are safe for use
  • Keeping detailed and accurate maintenance logs that can be shown when requested

Truck drivers are also responsible for observing the condition of their trucks while they are out on the road. This includes:

  • Making a pre-departure inspection to identify potential problems or defects that require repair or maintenance
  • Thoroughly inspecting the condition of both the truck and the payload at least once within the first 50 miles of each trip
  • Reinspecting the payload and the truck after either three consecutive hours of driving, driving more than 150 miles, or during a duty status change
  • Drafting a full inspection report after every shift

If you were injured in an accident and you suspect that negligent truck maintenance was to blame, reach out to a truck accident attorney at Burg Simpson today.

Common Injuries Caused by Poor Truck Maintenance

The severity of your truck accident injuries will depend mainly on how fast the truck and your vehicle were moving when the accident took place, the angle of impact between the two vehicles, and several other factors as well.

Some of the more severe injuries commonly sustained in accidents caused by no or poor truck maintenance are:

  • Spinal cord/back injuries
  • Traumatic brain/head injuries
  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Internal organ damage/Internal bleeding
  • Involuntary amputations
  • Third and fourth-degree burn injuries
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Injuries that prove fatal

It is absolutely imperative that you seek prompt medical attention after being involved in a truck accident. This will allow your doctor to make an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan that manages your pain and helps your injuries heal as much as possible.

Who is Liable for an Accident Caused by Negligent Truck Maintenance?

Tractor trailers are somewhat elaborate in their design. They need careful maintenance and frequent repairs in order to operate safely and lawfully. In the absence of appropriate maintenance, truck accidents are extremely likely to occur. To prevent accidents from happening, truck drivers as well as their employers are required to abide by strict ordinances that oversee their vehicle’s inspections and maintenance. When a truck driver fails to meet these benchmarks, serious trucking accidents are often the outcome. When this happens, there are multiple parties that could be liable for your damages.

Operator Liability

In just about every truck accident case, the truck operator is going to be named as a liable party. Trucking companies share significantly in liability when poor maintenance issues cause trucking accidents, but the operator is also expected to be mindful of any problems with their truck. If a truck operator detects a maintenance problem while they are traveling, they have to address it as quickly as possible and notify their employer of the specific problem. It is, however, highly unlikely that truck drivers will be solely responsible for the damages in truck accident cases. The freight company almost always shares liability with its driver.

Freight Company Liability

While truck operators undoubtedly have a duty to make sure that their trucks are working safely, the responsibility of maintaining the fleet ultimately rests with the freight company. Freight companies are responsible for the routine inspection of their trucks, making any and all necessary repairs, keeping and updating maintenance records, and recognizing and fixing any possible dangers. If a truck is determined to be unsafe, no matter what the reason, the freight company is obligated to take that truck out of the rotation until it is safe to drive, or have it stricken from their fleet altogether if it is irreparable. Along with liability for damages, freight companies can face further penalties and safety violations.

Other Potentially Liable Parties

Individuals and/or companies other than the truck operator and freight company could be liable for a truck accident that was due to a lack of sufficient maintenance. While the operator and their employer are typically in charge of maintaining their trucks, other parties, like an independent mechanic or a garage, can manage the repairs.

Also, maintenance problems can be the result of defective vehicle parts and defective vehicles instead of simply negligent maintenance and repairs. In these instances, the company that manufactured a truck or any of its parts might be held accountable for damages. Other parties who might be liable include safety inspectors and retailers.

Poor truck maintenance accident claims are very complex. This is due to the fact that liability must be determined from among several potential parties. Having a skilled truck accident attorney by your side who can wholly investigate the accident and collect and preserve any vital evidence can make a world of difference in the outcome of a truck accident case.

What Damages Can I Collect After a Truck Accident?

If you overextended the limitations of your no-fault insurance policy or you live in an at-fault state and are able to prove that the other driver was liable, you could be eligible for damages for your truck maintenance accident. The forms of damages you might be entitled to vary depending on where you live and the facts of your case, such as who was at fault, what external influences played a role, the nature and degree of any injuries, and where the accident took place. Injured victims or their surviving family members often pursue damages in these cases. The most common damages are:

Economic Damages

Economic damages refer to the quantifiable, tangible damages you sustained because of your accident. Economic damages are monetary losses that can be documented and calculated, like:

  • Medical expenses
  • Other healthcare bills
  • Prescription medications
  • The cost of gas, cab rides, or Ubers to and from medical appointments
  • Lost wages
  • Lost projected wages
  • Funeral and burial costs

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages refer to intangible, non-monetary losses that involve emotional rather than physical harm. A truck accident lawyer from Burg Simpson can help you calculate the value of your non-economic damages, which may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental trauma
  • Loss of fellowship
  • Disfigurement or permanent scarring

If the court determines that the at-fault driver’s negligence or dereliction was especially egregious, they may be inclined to impose punitive damages. Punitive damages are a form of financial compensation that is intended to punish the at-fault driver and act as a deterrent against future violations. Whether or not you are eligible to collect punitive damages will depend on the circumstances of your truck accident and where you live. An experienced personal injury lawyer can tell you if you qualify.

Talk to an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Today

At the law firm of Burg Simpson, we have been protecting the rights of injured truck accident victims for decades and have recovered millions in compensation for our clients.

If you were injured due to the negligence of a truck operator, or their employer, we can help you pursue full and fair financial compensation for your injuries and other damages. To schedule your free and confidential case review, give us a call at (888) 895-2080 or fill out the contact form on our website.
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