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Who Is Responsible for a Truck Accident When the Brakes Fail?

Commercial trucking is a complex industry with many parties involved. So, when something goes wrong and trucks are involved in collisions, there’s often a great deal of blame-shifting, making it difficult to determine who is responsible. Take, for example, an accident where the cause is brake failure. The parties who might be at fault include:

  • Brake manufacturers — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, sets minimum safety standards for the performance of commercial truck brake systems. A braking system that fails to operate according to standards might be considered defective by design, if there is a widespread issue with its performance. If the system presents only sporadic problems, there might be a defect in the manufacture of the brakes. However, for the manufacturer to be liable, the defect would have to have existed at the time the system was produced.
  • Drivers — Negligent actions or omissions in the operation of truck braking systems can cause the brakes to fail. A driver who should have been aware of the problem but kept driving until the brakes gave out would certainly have to share some responsibility. The trucking company is responsible for the negligent acts or omissions of its employee while performing work-related duties.
  • Cargo companies — Companies that specialize in loading cargo into commercial trucks must make sure the cargo is secure and distributed in a safe manner throughout the trailer. Improper loading of a tractor-trailer can cause brakes to overheat and malfunction.
  • Maintenance companies — Companies hired to maintain commercial trucks must perform scheduled maintenance and be reasonably vigilant about noticing problems and following up on comments from drivers. Companies that neglect maintenance can be liable for accidents that result. However, if the trucking company puts rigs on the road over the objections of the maintenance company, fault can shift to the trucking company.

It is often necessary to attach all possible defendants in your truck accident lawsuit. The information that they reveal while pointing fingers at each other can greatly benefit your claim.

If you have questions about your truck accident case, speak to a knowledgeable attorney at Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, P.C. Call us today at 423-797-6022 to schedule your free initial consultation, or contact us online.

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