In the District of Columbia, truck accidents can change the lives of anyone who has the misfortune to be involved in one of them. The size of a truck makes any collision involving one far more serious than just a normal car accident. While cars weigh around 3,000 pounds, even empty trucks typically weigh ten times as much. When full of cargo, a semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Combined with the truck's higher profile from the ground, which results in fenders that go above a car's fenders in a collision, this makes a truck accident a very serious event that can lead to life-altering or life-ending injuries.
Despite these dangers, truckers and trucking companies often fail to take measures that would help prevent these kinds of accidents. One of the measures that they often fail to take is properly maintaining the truck. Improperly maintained tractor trailers are frequently the cause of serious truck accidents that leave innocent drivers severely hurt, making poor truck maintenance a serious problem on the roads in the U.S.
Poor Truck Maintenance Causes Serious Accidents
Properly maintaining a truck can prevent or detect serious issues with the vehicle, such as failing brakes, worn or poorly inflated tires, or other mechanical problems that could potentially make it more difficult to drive the truck, or that can make the truck driver suddenly lose control. When these maintenance measures are not taken, the impact that it can have on the truck – and on all of the other people sharing the road with the truck – can be devastating: A blown tire at the wrong time can send a massive tractor trailer hurtling into another lane on the highway, crashing into any cars that happen to be there.
Unfortunately, poorly or improperly maintained trucks cause crashes shockingly often. During a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which investigated 967 truck accidents in 17 states between 2001 and 2003, brake failures alone were found to have contributed to nearly one in three truck crashes. Other simple maintenance oversights – like keeping track of tire pressure or making sure that headlights work – likely increase this number significantly.
Who Is Responsible for Maintaining a Truck?
One of the biggest issues with improperly or poorly maintained trucks is who was supposed to maintain it, in the first place. Truck maintenance can either fall on the backs of the truck drivers, who spend hours every day behind the wheel and are therefore in the best position to detect something that is going wrong, or on the trucking company that owns the vehicle, which is in the best position to actually carry out the required maintenance.
When the vehicle is on the road, it is the driver of the truck that can best detect when something is going wrong. They are very in tune with their vehicle and can feel when it is taking longer to brake or when low tire pressure is impacting how their truck is handling. Many trucking companies capitalize on this and require truck drivers to note potential maintenance issues in a log book for the company to look into once the vehicle reaches its destination.
However, these roadside inspections take time that neither the trucking company nor the truck driver wants to waste. As a result, more and more common carriers no longer require their drivers to do these inspections, and more and more drivers routinely skip them in order to reach their destination quicker. When this happens, the condition of the truck deteriorates quicker and puts other drivers on the road at a significant risk.
Even if the truck driver does follow through on his or her roadside inspections, finds a problem, records it properly, and notifies their trucking company of the issue, that does not mean that the problem will actually get fixed. Every moment a truck is kept off the road for maintenance, it is not making the trucking company any profit. Whenever it is in the shop for maintenance, it may be costing the company money in labor and parts for repairs. As a result, many trucking corporations will delay routine truck maintenance, which may result in the problem getting worse. Unfortunately, if these fixes are delayed past the point of safety, you and other innocent drivers could be put unknowingly in harm's way.
Your Options After a Crash Caused by Poor Truck Maintenance
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a truck accident that was caused by a truck because it was improperly or poorly maintained, you have legal rights that you can enforce through a personal injury lawsuit.
All drivers owe a duty of care to the others on the road to drive reasonably safely. This includes maintaining their vehicles in a way that makes a crash unforeseeable. If a truck driver or trucking company violates this duty of care and this ends up leading to a truck accident that causes your injuries, you could be entitled to compensation for your losses. This is true, even if the poorly maintained truck was the result of an oversight or a mistake – between an innocent but injured driver and a negligent trucker or trucking company, it would be unfair to expect the innocent party to pay for their injuries.
D.C. Truck Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
This is where the personal injury attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help. By serving as your legal representative, we can enforce your legal rights both in and out of the courtroom to ensure your interests are pursued and you get the compensation you need for a full recovery. Truck accidents can lead to life-altering personal injuries. There is no reason why they should also lead to devastating financial losses, as well.
Contact our law firm online or call us at (800) 529-6162 for a free consultation.