Tractor-trailers serve a vital logistical role in our economy, but they also pose a serious risk to others using roadways in Florida and throughout the nation. While many trucking collisions are the result of driver fatigue, drug impairment, and illness or unsafe driving by a commercial driver, defective vehicle components and poor vehicle maintenance also contribute to a significant number of trucking accidents. Although the braking system of any vehicle constitutes an indispensable safety feature, faulty brakes constitute an even more serious issue when the vehicle is a forty ton fully loaded tractor-trailer combination. If you are injured or you lose someone you love in a trucking accident caused by shoddy vehicle maintenance or defective brakes, you might have a right to financial compensation. This blog post discusses issues that may be relevant to Florida personal injury lawsuits arising out of crashes involving big-rigs caused by unsafe components or shoddy maintenance.
Duty to Conduct Safety Inspections & Maintenance
Federal law imposes a duty on commercial carriers and truck drivers to conduct regular inspections and vehicle maintenance. This duty includes inspecting the brake system and component parts prior to embarking on a run. This inspection can involve checking for loose hoses, cracks in air disc brake rotors, hoses with leaks, damaged brake lining, and other potential brake problems. When inspections and necessary maintenance are not performed as required, the result can be an 80,000 pound tractor-trailer running out of control down an unsafe grade. While federal regulations specify that commercial carriers which are engaged in interstate commerce must satisfy inspection and maintenance regulations related to multiple vehicle systems and features, brake inspection and repair regulations are especially important.
Impact of Vehicle Loads
The proper loading of large commercial trucks can play a significant role in causing a dangerous crash. Weight limits are imposed on big-rigs to mitigate the risk of brake failure. Excessive loads can cause brakes to overheat or result in excessive brake wear, so brake performance is compromised. The brakes also must be serviced within a shorter period of time to avoid crashes related to deterioration of brake system components. Improperly secured or distributed loads can also compromise brake performance and result in uneven wear because the load is unbalanced. Compliance with federal regulations regarding weight limits for cargo and loaded tractor-trailers is critical to preventing collisions caused by brake failure.
Disregarding Warning Signs
Large commercial trucks are equipped with anti-lock brake systems (ABS) which include warning lights on the dashboard of the big-rig. The warning light is designed to put a driver on notice that there is a potential maintenance or safety issue regarding the brake system. The truck driver or commercial carrier can check the “fault code” to identify the precise mechanical issue, so the vehicle can be properly maintenance by the commercial carrier or an independent repair facility. When a truck driver or trucking company ignores ABS warning lights or other signs that the brakes are not operating properly, this failure to inspect the potential brake problem can cause a fatal trucking accident.
Brake and Truck Manufacturers
Manufacturers of large trucks and brake components have a legal duty to avoid manufacturing, equipping, or selling defective brake components or vehicles. This obligation includes the use of safe designs and proper monitoring during the manufacturing process to ensure that the final components are safe and function as reasonably anticipated. Brake component manufacturers are expected to undertake proper quality control measures and perform adequate safety testing. If a manufacturer later discovers that a component, brake system, or large truck is defective, the manufacturer has a duty to issue a recall and implement the recall in a timely fashion.
Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.: Seeking Maximum Recovery for Damages Sustained Due to Negligence
If you have suffered serious injury or you have lost someone you love in a Florida tractor-trailer accident, our Miami Trucking Accident Lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve. For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida. We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.