What Common Mechanical Failures Lead to Truck Accidents?

Commercial trucks are essential to our nation’s economy and a common sight on Virginia roadways and highways. Unfortunately, traveling alongside commercial trucks can be hazardous, particularly if the rig has not been properly inspected and maintained. In fact, research published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that mechanical failures, such as malfunctioning brakes and worn-out tires, are responsible for roughly 35% of all commercial truck accidents. If you were involved in a commercial truck accident that was caused by a mechanical failure, the Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help. We have been helping clients injured in trucking accidents secure fair financial compensation since 1985. Call us today to schedule your free consultation. 

What Are the Most Common Mechanical Failures in Trucks?

Commercial trucks are vulnerable to certain mechanical failures that are more hazardous than those that occur in passenger vehicles. The mechanical failures that occur most often in trucks are:  

Brake Failures

Brakes are an integral part of the safety of any motor vehicle, including trucks. When the braking system or one of its components fails, the truck driver will not be able to stop in time to avoid an accident. Trucks require up to 40% more stopping distance than passenger vehicles. Truck brakes also require more frequent maintenance than other parts. Brake failure can be caused by:

  • Worn discs
  • Faulty brake lines
  • Thinning brake pads
  • Brake fluid leaks
  • Inadequate brake fluid
  • Antilock brake system malfunction
  • Infrequent, improper, or no inspection

When brakes are worn out or not properly maintained, the driver is more likely to cause a serious or fatal crash.  

Tire Blowouts

Most commercial trucks have 18 wheels. When a tire blows, the sudden shift in the vehicle’s weight and balance can cause the driver to lose control of his rig. Just like other vehicles, truck tires must have a sufficient amount of tread, not have any wires poking through, and be properly inflated according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Drivers need to check the inflation on all of their tires before they hit the road because variations in temperature and other atmospheric conditions can lead to unexpected changes in tire pressure. A blown truck tire can also lead to additional accidents when sections become debris in the roadway that other drivers might have to swerve to avoid.  

Truck tires are also prone to manufacturing or other defects that can initiate recalls. Freight companies are expected to monitor the tires they buy by size and manufacturer so they know right away if any have been recalled.

Malfunctioning, Missing, or Broken Lights

Lights, including taillights, headlights, turn indicators, and side marker lights, are critical safety features on every vehicle. Without them, drivers could not drive safely at night or in inclement weather. Working lights also help other drivers to notice the truck. Turn indicators allow drivers to communicate with one another on the road by calling attention to planned movements in a way that others can easily see.

Lights that are burned out, broken, or have otherwise stopped working are a serious safety hazard. Unfortunately, they are also one of the most frequent mechanical failures on trucks.

All lights on a rig should be checked before a trip as well as during regularly scheduled inspections. Any that are missing, broken, or not working properly must be replaced before the truck is driven.

Who Is Liable for Truck Accidents Caused by Mechanical Failures?

When a mechanical failure results in a trucking accident, multiple parties could bear liability, such as:

Freight Companies

The FMCSA requires freight companies to regularly maintain, repair, and inspect their vehicles. They are also mandated to keep records showing what service was performed on what date. These same conditions apply to any subcontractors hired by freight companies.  

Truck Operators

Those who hold Commercial Driver’s Licenses are legally required to inspect their rigs for any mechanical problems before and after making a delivery. Both federal and state regulations also require drivers to pull over at weigh stations. Responsible truckers will follow all safety regulations and immediately stop driving a truck if mechanical problems develop. 

Truck Manufacturers/Parts Manufacturers

Truck manufacturers could be held liable if they produce or market a defective or dangerous product. They may also be held liable if they purposefully withhold information or fail to warn of any safety issues or defects. The same is true if an accessory, component, or part causes or contributes to a mechanical failure.  

Each of these parties owes the public a duty of care to ensure their vehicles are safe and can be considered negligent if that duty is breached. If their negligence causes an accident, they can be held accountable for any resulting damages.  

Was a Mechanical Failure Responsible For Your Truck Accident?

If you were injured in a commercial truck accident and you feel that a mechanical failure may have been the cause, call the experienced Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp as soon as possible. We can conduct an independent investigation, determine all contributing factors in your truck accident, and identify all potential sources of recovery. That is how we were able to win one client a $650,000 jury verdict after a truck driver experienced a tire blowout and struck her car. To schedule a free review of your commercial truck accident case, call (833) 997-1774 or fill out our online contact form. We have offices in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton, Portsmouth, and Chesapeake.