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Liability for 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents Caused by Poor Maintenance


December 23, 2021

While all types of vehicles can cause a serious accident, collisions involving 18-wheeler tractor-trailer trucks pose a considerably higher risk of death or catastrophic injury.  When a tractor-trailer truck weighing around 80,000 pounds crashes into a motor vehicle weighing only 3,000 pounds, the passengers inside the smaller motor vehicle face a greater risk of sustaining severe, debilitating injuries.  Because of the elevated risk of death or severe injury, federal regulations created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandate inspections and specific maintenance schedules for all commercial trucks.  These laws not only mandate continuous inspections and maintenance, but the regulations also require meticulous record keeping to prove compliance.  Truck drivers also must fill out Driver Daily Vehicle Inspection Reports on a truck's tires, service brakes, windshield wipers, rims, emergency equipment, horn, wheels, parking brake, steering wheel, rear vision mirrors, and more under FMCSA Chapter 396.11.

Many close inspections of many tractor-trailer trucks would show violations; those items that fail to meet the government's standards must be repaired prior to the driver and/or the trucking company putting the tractor-trailer truck back into service.  Any violations will result in steep fines.  When a trucker or trucking company fails to perform the compulsory inspections or the lack of proper maintenance causes an accident, the driver, commercial carrier, maintenance provider, and/or the part manufacturer – separately or together – could be held liable.  Depending on the laws of the jurisdiction and the applicable laws, a lawsuit seeking damages could be filed against the at-fault parties.  Several types of poor maintenance or defective parts can cause a tractor-trailer collision, including brake failures, defective couplings, missing reflective warning tape, tire blowouts, broken taillights, and more.

Brake failures are one of the most common causes of maintenance-based truck accidents.  When a 30-ton truck suddenly loses its brakes, the chances of that truck causing a severe truck accident with another motorist are high.  This is why federal regulations assess strict safety standards on large truck braking systems.  For example, a commercial truck must slow down at a rate determined by the truck's size and meet several other standards during safety inspections.  When a truck's braking system does not meet federal standards, and there is an accident, several parties could be financially responsible for accident-related injuries and other losses.

The issue of faulty brakes leads to several trucking accidents each year.  The most common accidents caused by brake malfunctions include:

  • Rear-End Collision:  When a truck's braking system is failing, it is likely that the truck with crash into the rear of another motor vehicle.  If the truck strikes a car, the truck could ride up and over the top of the car, collapsing the passenger compartment.
  • Intersection Crashes: A severe collision could occur when a commercial truck enters an intersection and runs a red light, or its brakes fail. 
  • Speeding-Related Accidents: Properly working brakes permit a semi-truck driver to drive at the proper speed.  However, when the truck's brakes fail while traveling downhill, the truck driver won't be able to maintain the truck at the posted speed. 

If you or a loved one are injured in a tractor-trailer truck accident, or you tragically lost a loved one, call to speak with one of our experienced semi-truck accident attorneys.  Our attorneys can explain your legal rights and the process for pursuing monetary compensation.  

It is important to understand that negligence claims arising out of truck crashes are subject to strict deadlines.  Each state has its own time deadlines.  That is why you should speak to an experienced truck attorney promptly to protect your legal rights.

The Significance of Truck Regulations When Filing a Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawsuit

Although motor vehicle accident victims can significantly improve their chances of winning an accident injury case by retaining a truck accident lawyer, the complexity of a trucking accident claim makes legal representation essential. Because of the potential hazard of a motor vehicle weighing as much as 80,000 pounds traveling at interstate speeds, a comprehensive set of rules and regulations were implemented to reduce this threat to public safety.  Our truck accident attorneys rely on their experience and knowledge of these regulations to uncover violations by the trucking company and/or the truck driver. Some of these regulations include the following:

Hiring and Training:  Commercial trucking companies are required to conduct background checks as part of their truck driver hiring process.  The trucking company is obligated to review the trucker's past record and conduct drug testing.  After the trucking company hires a new truck driver, the company is required to train its drivers.

Alcohol/Drug Testing:  Commercial truck drivers are required to submit to random alcohol and drug testing.  

Hours of Service (HOS):  These anti-drowsy driving laws limit truck drivers' hours behind the wheel.  Truck drivers make more money by driving more runs.  This gives truckers a strong incentive to violate HOS rules.  Moreover, some truck companies overlook these infractions and even offer compensation plans to encourage these HOS violations.

Maintenance/Record keeping: Trucking companies and truck drivers are required to perform safety inspections and properly maintain their semi-tractor-trailer trucks.  These inspections include checking the lights, tires, and braking system.  Trucking laws also impose record keeping responsibilities for hours in service and other reporting.

Minimum Insurance Coverage:  Truck owners are required by law to carry higher insurance policy limits than non-commercial drivers because large commercial trucks cause more destruction and harm than small passenger vehicles. 

Securing/Loading Cargo: Special procedures must be followed if a tractor-trailer truck is transporting hazardous materials.  Even when a tractor-trailer truck transports non-hazardous cargo, there are regulations that require that loads be secured and balanced properly.  Cargo falling into the road constitutes a severe risk to other motorists.  

If you or a member of your family have been injured in a truck accident, our trucking accident attorneys are here to explain your legal rights and remedies.  

Legal Help for Truck Accident Victims 

Did you or a loved one suffer injuries in a truck accident?  Learn about your legal rights by calling Montlick Injury Attorneys Nationwide, 24/7, at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). Our Trucking Accident Lawyers in Georgia are here to listen, understand your situation, and advise you. 

We Know What It Takes To Win!™ 

If you have been injured or lost a family member due to an accident, contact Montlick & Associates, Injury Attorneys, for your free consultation today. Our law firm has been representing those who suffer serious injuries or lost a loved one in an accident for over 38 years.  Our trial attorneys have recovered billions of dollars for our personal injury clients through negotiated settlements, litigation/lawsuits, settlement of lawsuits, jury verdicts, mediation, and arbitration awards.

Please visit our read Montlick & Associates reviews to see what our clients have to say about our commitment to exceptional service.

No matter where you are located, our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us nationwide 24 hours day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or simply dial #WIN (#946) from your mobile phone. You can also visit us online at Montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or Free 24-hour live chat.

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Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law

Address: 17 Executive Park Dr NE
Atlanta, GA 30329, United States
Hours: Open 24 hours
Phone: (404) 529-6333
Toll Free: (800) 529-6333

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Truck Accident Lawsuit Lawyers in Georgia 

Sources:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/title49/section/396.11

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/title49/section/396.13 

https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/safetyplanner/documents/Forms/Driver's%20Vehicle%20Inspection%20Report_508.pdf

Category: Truck Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.