Car accidents are common events that can lead to serious personal injuries. Crashes that involve a truck, though, are far more severe. Tractor trailers, even when empty, can weigh more than 30,000 pounds. Those that are full of cargo often top 80,000 pounds. With all of this weight, the amount of force that these vehicles bring to a collision, therefore, is exponentially higher than a car that typically weighs about 3,000 pounds.
Because of the heavy impact that a tractor trailer or other truck can bring to a crash, whenever one is involved in a traffic accident the injuries that result are often serious or even fatal. This is why it is so important for all trucks to have working brakes. Because they are one of the most reliable ways for truck drivers to avoid an accident, a truck's braking system can save lives. Unfortunately, when they fail, these same braking systems can put people at risk of a serious injury.
The Problem of Truck Brake Failure in Maryland
Just like normal drivers in their cars, the main ways for truck drivers to control their vehicles and avoid a collision with others on the road is their steering and their speed. Without one of these tools, any driver is considered out of control. Unfortunately, the most dangerous way for a driver to be out of control while on the road is when their brakes fail. This leaves them unable to slow down and often going too fast to effectively steer, making an accident likely and often devastating.
Unfortunately, brake failure causes a staggering amount of truck accidents. According to a study done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), nearly one out of every three truck accidents involved brake failure. The study had investigated 967 crashes in 17 states between 2001 and 2003, which had involved a total of 1,127 large trucks. Out of these accidents, almost 30% of the trucks involved had brake problems that contributed to the crash. This staggeringly high number is even more extreme when compared to the fact that only 5% of the passenger vehicles involved had brake problems.
Causes of Brake Failures in Trucks
Simply put, brakes are made to work. When they do not work, that means someone was responsible for them failing. Different people, though, are responsible for different aspects of a brake system's design, manufacture, and maintenance. This can make it slightly more difficult to determine who was really at fault for a truck accident caused by a brake failure.
Failures Caused by Brake Manufacturers
There are a handful of companies that design and manufacture brakes. However, because these companies exist to make a profit, they are all too willing to sacrifice the safety of drivers for an increase in their own profits.
As a result, these companies often adopt new brake designs that are meant to use less or cheaper materials than earlier designs. Unfortunately, this often means that the new kinds of brakes either do not work as well or do not last as long as expected. When this happens, truck drivers and the other people on the road are the ones who are bound to suffer when the brake system fails.
Even if the brake system's design is safe, though, a company that cuts corners or has poor quality control is bound to have manufacturing errors that leave some of their brakes in poor shape when they leave the shop. A brake failure that happens because a mechanism does not even match the design that it was supposed to follow can cause a serious truck accident.
Whenever the brake design or manufacture is at the heart of a truck's brake failure, you could have a products liability claim against the company that was ultimately responsible for the crash and your injuries.
Failures Caused by Poor Brake Maintenance
Even properly designed and manufactured brakes will wear down over time. After all, truck brakes do a lot of work every day, bringing tens of thousands of pounds of truck to a stop numerous times every few hours.
As a result, maintaining a truck's braking system is crucial. Unfortunately, whenever a truck is being serviced that means it is not on the road. As a result, maintenance is not something that happens as often as it needs to happen, and is often only something that is done after a problem has arisen. All too often, this means that maintenance comes too late to prevent a serious brake failure and a truck accident.
The two parties responsible for a truck's maintenance are the driver of the truck and the trucking company that he or she works for. Drivers are supposed to inspect their vehicle's braking system on a nearly daily basis and note any potential problems in their log books. However, because this takes time and a truck driver's time is their own money, this often does not happen. Additionally, not all brake problems can be seen without a full inspection that cannot be done on the road.
The trucking company, on the other hand, has the tools and the ability to effectively test a truck's brakes for problems and to fix any that they find. However, they rarely take the time and the effort to do this because it costs them money every time they take a truck off the road and find new problems to fix.
Because of their lack of incentives, neither the trucking company nor the driver take brake maintenance as seriously as they should, leading to potentially dangerous brake conditions that can cause a serious truck accident.
Baltimore Truck Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a trucking accident in or near Baltimore, Maryland, you need financial compensation to help recover from the injuries you have suffered. The best way to ensure this happens is by filing a personal injury claim, but this often takes a skilled personal injury attorney.
This is where the personal injury lawyers at the Baltimore law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help. Contact our law firm online or call us at (800) 529-6162 for the legal assistance you need to get the compensation you deserve.