Pinellas Park, Florida police stated yesterday that an accident where a box truck crashed into a KFC restaurant and injured three patrons was caused by brake failure.
The box truck crash happened at 1:17 PM on April 5 in Pinellas Park at Park Blvd. and 66th St. North. The police stated the truck driver was traveling south on 66th St. when the brakes failed on his truck. He saw stopped traffic in front of him, and he tried to steer the truck over the median into the northbound lanes. But the truck went over the median, crossed several lanes of traffic, and hit a pickup truck.
The box truck continued into the parking lot of the restaurant where it it the west wall of the building. Inside were several patrons eating lunch. The impact pinned them against a table and the wall. Each were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
Brake failure is a serious issue for big rigs, box trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles. With a tremendous amount of weight in the truck, the brake system handles a massive amount of pressure every day. After years of use, it is possible that the brakes on the truck can fail and endanger other people. The NHTSA reports that 30% of truck crashes involve brake failure.
Who is to blame when truck brakes fail? It depends upon the situation, but it can be one or more of the following:
- Truck part manufacturer: When the truck brakes fail, it is important for them to be closely inspected for defects and failures. The manufacturer of the parts could be liable in a truck crash if the parts they produced failed.
- Mechanic: A truck must be in safe condition before it is allowed to be used for commercial use each day. Truckers and trucking firms may use third party mechanics to handle repairs and maintenance. If the mechanic did not see a problem with the brakes, he could be liable.
- Cargo crew: The FMCSA has written a guidebook that tells what trucking companies can and cannot do, including how the freight should be loaded to avoid too much stress on the brakes. Crews that improperly stack and secure the cargo area can overload the brakes.
- Trucker: The responsibility in the end is on the trucker to drive safely.
Clearly, truck crashes involve a complex process to determine who is liable for the brake failure. To be clear, brakes do not fail on their own. There must be a reason that they failed, and it usually is due to part defects and/or poor maintenance. Determining liablity for the brake failure is key if there will be a personal injury lawsuit in the case.