When a Truck’s Brakes Fail to Function, Who Will be the Liable Party?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a truck’s braking system must be able to “provide for safe and reliable stopping of the commercial motor vehicle.”
The FMCSA’s standards on trucks’ brakes and brake parts is one specific law that is geared towards helping ensure the safe operation of trucks. A truck’s braking system is one of the most important parts of a semi-trailer, also known as a big rig or an 18-wheeler. If a truck’s brake malfunctions, a major traffic accident is most likely to follow.
The most common reasons why brakes fail are thinning or wearing out of brake pads, brakes getting suffused with grease or oil, brakes overheating, and brakes and/or brake components failing to meet the required standard on construction, installation and maintenance – all of which help prevent excessive fading and grabbing.
If a truck’s braking system malfunctions, blame may fall on any of the following:
- Manufacturer, who may have failed to meet the automatic brake adjustment system require under the law.
- Driver, who either fail to perform a pre-trip inspection of his/her vehicle’s braking performance, or who may have deliberately unhooked or depowered his/her truck’s front brakes (and rely instead on the brakes of the trailer and downshifting to slow down and stop the truck) in order to minimize expenses due to worn out tires and brakes.
- Company or people who loaded the truck. Improper loading or failure to evenly distribute a truck’s load can easily result to brakes overheating and malfunctioning.
- People who fail to maintain the brakes or who may set brakes improperly. Trucking firms and, specifically, drivers, are required to make sure that brakes work properly. This is why, under federal regulations, a maintenance record, which will show the performance of scheduled/regular maintenance of trucks, should be kept and made readily available by trucking companies.
Besides those already mentioned above, other common truck brake problems, include poor air pressure, condensation, worn break components, brakes out of adjustment, use of substandard pars in the manufacture of brake parts, damaged, disconnected, or punctured hydraulic fluid lines, and worn tires.
In its website, the Abel Law Firm says that ensuring that brakes function well is crucial to a truck’s operation. Thus, trucking companies, parts manufacturers and drivers all have their own responsibility in strictly following the mandated safety regulations. Any failure on their part can result to a civil lawsuit filed by the victim and/or his/her family for the purpose of seeking justice and the compensation that is intended to cover all the damages (the victim) is made to suffer.