Approximately 4,000 people are killed nationally in commercial trucking accidents that are the result of intoxication, sleepy truckers, or distracted drivers. However, in some cases, mechanical failure can be the underlying cause.
Common Mechanical Failures
Trucking accidents are commonly caused by mechanical failures. Crash Forensics notes that the most common examples of maintenance deficiencies are braking defects caused by oil-contaminated brakes, braking defects caused by brakes that are out of adjustment, tire failures from tires that are under-inflated or over-loaded, wheel separations caused by wheels and hub assemblies that are improperly installed or maintained, and steering system components that are used and worn to the point that they separate and fail. These types of mechanical failures are not spontaneous, however. Rather, most mechanical failures are easily identifiable and are progressive in nature. And, due to a lack of reasonable care, or sometimes “turning a blind eye,” the failures remain undetected.
Federal Truck Maintenance Standards and Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a sub agency within the Department of Transportation, serves the purpose of ensuring safety in motor carrier operations through strong enforcement of safety regulations. The agency was created to deal with a large number of automobile accidents, as well as a lack of safety regulations for occupational vehicles. In order to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries, the agency implemented rules and regulations pertaining to commercial vehicle equipment and operation standards. The laws provide that all trucks are required to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained. “Systematically” has a meaning of performing “regular or scheduled programs to keep vehicles in a safe operating condition.” The discretion of regularity is in the hands of the driver (or trucking company), but the inspections should be consistent with the mechanical demands of the truck. The more miles or the heavier the load, the more often inspections should be performed.
Pursuant to federal law, truck companies and truck drivers must ensure safety by inspecting their equipment and performing regular maintenance checks. Drivers who violate the FMCSA regulations may be held liable for damages, in the event of injuries or wrongful death in truck accidents. If you have been injured in a truck related accident due to unsafe equipment and/or improper truck maintenance, you may be able to recover for your damages. Potential defendants in a claim may include the driver, trucking company, maintenance subcontractor, and the parts manufacturer.
Under a negligence theory, the plaintiff must prove the defendant failed to exercise reasonable due care. FMCSA regulations set the standard for truck maintenance: due to the fact that worn, failed, or incorrectly adjusted components can cause or contribute to accidents, owners and drivers must take reasonable preventive steps to prevent mechanical failures from occurring while the vehicle is being operated. A violation of this standard may hold a driver liable for damages.
Victims of car accidents in Pennsylvania may be eligible for a range of compensatory and noncompensatory benefits that cover damages for monetary as well as non-monetary losses. The experienced litigation attorneys at Solnick & Associates LLC have the skills and training to handle complex automobile accidents. Contact us or call (215) 481-9979 for a confidential consultation today.