Trucking Companies and Truck Manufacturers Can Be Held Liable for Accidents in Many Cases
While truck driver negligence is a leading cause of truck accidents, it is not the only factor that can lead to a serious or fatal collision. In many cases, issues with the truck itself will play a role as well. When maintenance issues and defects lead to accidents, trucking companies and truck manufacturers can—and should—be held accountable.
Truck accident cases involving maintenance issues and defects present some unique challenges. As a result, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side. With more than a decade of experience handling truck accident cases and product liability cases, the Shlosman Law Firm can help you seek the full financial compensation you and your family deserve.
Common Maintenance Issues that Can Lead to Truck Accidents
Like all vehicles, 18-wheelers and other commercial trucks require regular maintenance. Keeping these trucks in good operating condition is essential for keeping motorists safe on Louisiana’s roads. Unfortunately, many trucking companies (and other businesses that operate large commercial trucks) do not adequately maintain their fleets, and, as a result, accidents involving maintenance-related problems are far too common.
With the size and weight of large commercial trucks, even relatively minor issues can lead to major accidents. Here are some common examples of maintenance issues that can cause truck drivers to suddenly and unexpectedly lose control:
Failure to Perform Engine or Transmission Maintenance
With the number of miles that most truck drivers cover on a daily basis, commercial trucks often require engine and transmission maintenance at much more frequent intervals than cars, pickup trucks and SUVs. But, maintenance on large commercial trucks can be expensive, and, as a result, many truck owners and trucking companies put off necessary service.
Failure to Properly Maintain Couplings, Cargo Straps and Other Truck Components
On a large commercial truck, any unmaintained component has the potential to lead to an accident. This includes not only engine and transmission components but also couplings, cargo straps, suspension systems and other truck components. Under federal trucking safety regulations, truck drivers and trucking companies are required to regularly inspect these components for signs of wear. Yet, many fail to do so.
Failure to Replace Burnt-Out Headlights, Tail Lights or Brake Lights
Burnt-out headlights can limit truck drivers’ visibility, while burnt-out tail lights and brake lights can limit trucks’ visibility to other drivers. Both of these factors can significantly increase the risk of a collision. While truck drivers’ and trucking companies’ regular inspections are supposed to identify these types of maintenance issues, these inspections don’t always happen. Additionally, some truck drivers will choose to hit the road knowing that their trucks have burnt-out lights in order to try and stay on schedule.
Failure to Replace Worn Brake Pads or Rotors
Brake failures are a leading maintenance-related cause of commercial truck accidents. This includes failures caused by worn brake pads and worn rotors. Both components need to be in good shape in order for a truck driver to be able to stop safely, and when the need for brake maintenance goes unaddressed, the consequences can be devastating.
Failure to Replace Worn Tires
Failure to replace worn tires presents similar risks. While blowouts are a concern with worn-out tires, lack of tread can also lead to loss of control on wet roads, and it can increase a truck’s stopping distance significantly. While retreading worn truck tires can be an appropriate form of maintenance, retreading must be done properly to ensure that the new tread is firmly bonded to the old tire.
Common Defects that Can Lead to Truck Accidents
While maintenance issues can arise at any point during a commercial truck’s time in service, defects exist from the day a truck leaves the factory. Even so, a defect may not lead to failure until months, or even years, down the line.
When defects lead to truck accidents, truck manufacturers, component manufacturers and the dealerships that sell defective trucks can all potentially be held accountable. This applies to all types of truck defects, including common defects such as:
While truck drivers may or may not know if their brakes are in need of maintenance, they typically won’t know that their brakes are defective. If an 18-wheeler or other large commercial truck’s brakes fail unexpectedly, this can have catastrophic consequences on the road. Along with defective brake pads and rotors, defective brake lines, connectors, and other braking system components also present risks for all motorists in the truck’s vicinity.
Defective Cargo Straps and Other Equipment Used to Secure Truck Cargo
When they are behind the wheel, truck drivers generally expect their cargo to stay put. Shifting cargo can lead to loss of control, and it is a common factor in jackknife and rollover accidents. Loss of cargo in the roadway can also be extremely dangerous. While these issues can result from failure to replace worn cargo straps and other equipment used to secure truck cargo, defects are a concern here as well.
Defective Engine and Transmission Components
Engine and transmission failures can result from both maintenance issues and defects. These, too, can lead to sudden loss of control. When investigating an accident that resulted from an engine or transmission failure, determining the specific cause of the failure is an essential step toward holding the correct party financially accountable.
Defective Electrical Systems and Components
Electrical system defects can cause loss of control, loss of visibility and various other types of extremely dangerous failures. Modern trucks increasingly rely on electronics, and it often won’t be possible to spot the risk of an electrical failure until it is already too late.
While tire blowouts and loss of traction can result from wear over time, they can also result from tire design and manufacturing defects. This includes designing tires that are prone to failure and using the wrong rubber compounds during the manufacturing process. When tire failures result from defects, tire manufacturers can be held fully accountable under Louisiana law.
Proving that a Maintenance Issue or Defect is to Blame
When seeking to recover financial compensation for a truck accident, proving the cause of the accident is an essential first step. When dealing with any type of truck-related issue, this involves determining whether inadequate maintenance or a defect is to blame.
This is not an easy process. It requires a prompt investigation, and it requires the expertise of engineers and mechanics who can pinpoint the specific issue that caused the truck driver to lose control. With this in mind, it is extremely important to engage a law firm promptly, and it is equally important to choose a law firm that has specific experience handling truck accident cases involving maintenance issues and defects.
At the Shlosman Law Firm, we have the experience and insights needed to handle these cases effectively. When you contact us about your truck accident case, the steps we may take to prove that a maintenance or defect is to blame for what happened include (but are not limited to):
- Conduct an On-Scene Investigation – The evidence available at the scene of the crash (i.e., skid marks and debris) will help show exactly where the accident happened, how fast the truck was going, and in what direction it was traveling at the time of the collision.
- Examine the Truck – By hiring experts to thoroughly examine the truck, we can both identify the specific component that failed and determine why the failure occurred.
- Obtain the Truck’s Maintenance Records – If it appears that inadequate maintenance is to blame, we can obtain the truck’s maintenance records to prove it.
- Obtain Testimony from the Truck Driver or Company Representatives – If necessary, we can also obtain testimony from the truck driver or trucking company representatives under oath.
- Hire an Accident Reconstructionist – Through the science of accident reconstruction, it will often be possible to demonstrate exactly how a maintenance issue or defect triggered the events that led to a serious or fatal collision.
Pursuing a Claim Against the Trucking Company or Truck Manufacturer
While gathering evidence of the maintenance issue or defect is an important step on the road to financial recovery, it is ultimately just one step of many. Proving liability in any truck accident is a time-intensive process, and this is especially true when dealing with a truck-related cause. At the Shlosman Law Firm, we are committed to doing what it takes to help our clients recover maximum compensation, and if you have a claim for a truck maintenance issue or defect, we will do everything we can to help you recover as fully and quickly as possible.
Discuss Your Claim with Attorney Tom Shlosman in New Orleans, LA
If you believe you may have a claim for a truck accident caused by a maintenance issue or defect in Louisiana, we strongly encourage you to contact us right away. To discuss your case with attorney Tom Shlosman in confidence, call 504-826-9427 or request a free consultation online now.