Accidents involving commercial trucks can be much more serious than other accidents. The size and mass of a fully-loaded truck can cause serious damage to other vehicles, drivers, and passengers. This is the reason why truck drivers and truck operators are heavily regulated by governmental agencies, like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). When trucking companies fail to follow the law, violate the law, or cut corners to save money, they put innocent people at risk of injury or even death.
When someone is injured in a trucking accident in North Carolina, the injury victim can file a personal injury claim against the driver, truck owner, or transportation company for damages. In some cases where there is not enough insurance coverage, those injured can even file claims against the shipper of the goods and/or the broker. If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, Davis Law Group, PC will work to determine if equipment failure was the cause or one of the causes of your accident. Those persons and entities responsible for the equipment failure will be held to account for it by compensating you for your injuries and damages. Contact attorney Brian Davis at Davis Law Group today to learn more about your options. In the meantime, below is an overview of equipment failure and truck accidents in North Carolina.
Truck Equipment Failure & North Carolina Truck Accidents
When truck equipment fails or a faulty part fails, the driver may be suddenly unable to control the truck, which increases the risk of a serious accident, especially if the truck driver is operating the truck on the highway. Equipment failure can include but is not limited to the following examples:
- Brake failures
- Tire failures
- Under-ride bar failures
- Load-securing failures
Brakes are the most important piece of safety equipment on a large truck, and most modern commercial trucks use air brakes, which comprise many different components that must be regularly inspected and maintained. Given the size and speed of a commercial truck, it needs much more time and distance to come to a stop than a regular passenger vehicle. If the brakes fail or are not in good working order, a truck driver will not be able to stop the truck before crashing into someone else on the road or highway.
Most brake failures involve the slow wear that happens to brakes over years of use. Brakes become worn out over time from slowing the truck down hundreds of times a day. Simply put, brakes deteriorate with excess heat and use, so it is essential that truck drivers and truck companies regularly check their brake systems to make sure there are no unsafe or malfunctioning components to the system.
Another common type of truck equipment failure is tire failure. When a tire blows out on a commercial truck, it is nearly always without warning. Losing a tire suddenly can destabilize the entire rig enough for a truck driver to lose control. If you are driving next to or behind a truck that has a tire blow out, you could get severely hurt. This is one reason truck drivers are required to check their tires each day before they drive.
FMCSA requires that drivers should inspect their tires every day for irregular tread wear and tread depth, cracks, bulges, and other damages. Truck drivers must also make sure their tires are properly inflated and make adjustments to the tire pressure depending on the weight of the load they are carrying. Unfortunately, some truck drivers fail to perform these daily checks, and trucking companies often put off replacing worn or threadbare tires as long as possible to avoid the high cost of replacing the wheels.
Underride Bar Failures
Because commercial trucks are higher off the ground than other vehicles on the road, a passenger vehicle behind it could slide right underneath it if the truck had to come to a sudden stop. This is exactly what happened to the famous starlet Jayne Mansfield in 1967 when the car she was riding in came upon a tractor-trailer too fast and was unable to stop in time. Her car slid under the truck and she was killed instantly. After her death, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made it mandatory for all commercial trucks to be fitted with underride bars. However, these bars have been known to fail, and when they do, innocent drivers can suffer very serious injuries.
Because underride bars are located on the back of trucks, they often become damaged when a truck backs into a loading dock, making them prone to failing. Also, if they are improperly welded or made of cheap materials, they may not prevent a passenger vehicle from sliding underneath a truck.
The inside of a commercial truck trailer is often overlooked. There, belts, bars, bags, and other mechanisms keep cargo from shifting around while the truck is in motion. If this equipment fails, the truck's cargo – often tens of thousands of pounds' worth – can suddenly and drastically shift in the back of the truck, causing an imbalance of weight. OSHA puts the duty of safely loading and stacking cargo on the shipper of the goods. The Federal regulations require the truck driver to inspect the load to make sure it's safe before transporting it. This requirement (FMCSR section 392.9) does not apply to the truck driver if the driver feels that inspecting the load is impracticable. This exception to inspecting the load applies in situations where the truck driver cannot safely get in the trailer to inspect the load.
An improperly loaded trailer can also mean danger and potential injury for the truck driver. When a driver unlatches a trailer door, if heavy items have shifted during transport they can push the trailer doors open and tumble out on top of the truck driver.
When a load shifts during transport, it is nearly impossible for a truck driver to control the vehicle as it speeds down the highway. If all of the weight shifts to one side of the trailer, it is difficult and often impossible for a driver to steer the truck in the proper direction. This can certainly lead to a serious accident.
Davis Law Group, PC: Truck Accident Personal Injury Attorneys
If you, or a loved one, have been in an accident involving a commercial truck that was caused by equipment failure, you should not have to pay out of your own pocket to cover your medical costs or to repair or replace your car. Ultimately, someone is responsible for a truck's equipment failure, whether that's the truck driver, the trucking company, the shipper, or the broker of the shipment.
Davis Law Group, in Asheville, NC, has 28 years of experience in investigating and handling truck accident cases. We understand all the pieces and parts of a truck and know how to identify when equipment has failed, why it has failed, and who is responsible for its failure. Contact us online or call our law office at 828-350-7700 today to schedule a free consultation where will can discuss the specifics of your truck accident and personal injury case.