Truck accidents are often caused by what is officially recorded as “equipment failure.” This can generally involve any mechanical problems or problems with the truck itself, but brake failure is one possible type of equipment failure. If you were injured in a truck accident caused by brake failure, is that the truck driver’s fault? Or perhaps someone else’s?
Responsibility for a brake failure accident commonly falls on one of three parties: the truck driver, the company they work for, or the mechanics who maintain the vehicle. Sometimes the company that manufactured the brakes or even another driver is also liable. Determining which party is responsible in your specific case often requires looking at relevant regulations and statutes and the specific facts of the case at hand.
For a free review of your truck accident case, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to speak with our Maryland truck accident attorneys.
Who is at Fault for Brake Failure Accidents involving 18-Wheelers in Maryland?
When determining fault in a truck accident, it is possible to trace the core cause of the accident back to brake failure. From there, you determine who is at fault by looking into how and when problems arose with the brakes and whether anyone should have noticed them, should have spoken up about the problems, should have replaced faulty brakes, or otherwise did something to cause the brake issues. Typically, the fault for one of these or similar issues falls on one of the following parties:
Truck drivers are responsible for the vehicle they drive. There are federal trucking regulations that require drivers to check certain pieces of equipment and see for themselves that they are in good working order as part of their job. Additionally, the trucker is often in the best position to identify whether there is something wrong with their vehicle since they are the one driving it so frequently.
If the trucker was supposed to check for mechanical problems and the issue with the brakes should have been caught during that inspection, then the trucker could be responsible for any issues that stem from an overlooked or ignored problem with the brakes. Additionally, if they noticed something was wrong while driving but failed to get them checked by a mechanic or failed to report the equipment issue to their bosses, then they could also be liable for leaving the problems to linger.
At the end of the day, if the trucker could not have identified the brake failure, it might not be their fault. In fact, the truck driver might be just as much a victim of the brake failure as anyone else hurt in the crash. Talk to our Baltimore truck accident lawyers for help investigating what the trucker knew and when they knew it.
The Trucking Company
Often, truckers work for a larger trucking company that owns the vehicle and takes responsibility for its maintenance and upkeep. In these cases, the trucking company could be liable in their role as the trucker’s employer or because they failed in proper upkeep of the vehicle. Often, in-house mechanics at trucking companies are the ones who maintain the vehicle. They often have deeper authority and expertise compared to the driver when it comes to how the truck is supposed to work. If the brake failure stems from a problem they should have identified and fixed, the accident could be the trucking company’s fault.
Additionally, truckers might report problems to their employers and their employer’s mechanics. If they do so, and then those parties fail to fix them, they could be the ones who are liable in place of the truck driver.
Sometimes truckers and trucking companies rely on the expertise of an outside mechanic to fix problems they’ve identified. If a third-party trucking company repairs, adjusts, or replaces brakes or any part of a brake system, they could be liable for problems with the work they performed.
Often, a trucking company or a truck driver could argue that they relied on the mechanic – an expert – to do their repairs, and that the mechanic should be at fault instead of them. This isn’t always a valid defense, and a court might find that these parties share fault. Our Bethesda truck accident lawyers can again investigate who caused the issues and who should have done better, holding each party liable for their own share of fault.
The Brake Manufacturer
The auto parts manufacturer that made the brakes could also be liable – or partly liable – for a brake failure truck accident. Mechanics, trucking companies, and drivers might rely on new brakes to be in good working order. If, after proper maintenance and testing, none of them notice any problems with the brakes, there might be no grounds to hold them at fault. Even so, if the truck’s brakes had a design flaw or a manufacturing defect, the brake manufacturer could be liable for the brakes’ failure and any resulting damages.
These kinds of claims are often based on products liability laws rather than claims that the manufacturer was literally involved in the events that caused the accident. In these cases, our Maryland truck accident lawyers might be able to file your case against the negligent manufacturer and get you compensation, but these cases are sometimes complex.
Some highways are designed with safety features like runaway truck ramps to allow truckers experiencing brake failure to stop their vehicle safely without causing an accident. If another driver unreasonably interferes with the trucker driver’s ability to access a safety ramp, they could share liability.
Similarly, if brake failure would have caused a mild crash, but another driver makes the accident worse because they were speeding or driving recklessly, they could also have contributed to your injuries. Even if another driver did not cause the brake failure itself, they could have contributed to the severity of the ensuing crash.
This kind of situation is rare, but our Rockville truck accident lawyers can nonetheless help hold other drivers responsible for their fair share of damages after a truck accident alongside any other negligent parties.
For a Free Case Review, Call Our Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyers
If you were hurt in a trucking accident, call the Dundalk truck accident lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 today.