How Often Brake Failure Causes Truck Accidents
The trucking industry is responsible for transporting as much as 69.1% of all freight in the United States. This means that there are hundreds or even thousands of trucks ferrying goods on American roads at any given time.
Sadly, intricate pieces of machinery are prone to accidents, and the FMCSA estimates that up to 30% of truck-related accidents are caused by brake failure. There are a variety of brake failure causes.
Causes of Brake Failure in Trucks
Brake systems in cars use hydraulic pressure lines, which work efficiently to stop smaller vehicles on the road. Fully-loaded freight trucks, though, require more stopping power. To make up for the extra force needed, truck brakes come equipped with a compressor that draws air, then compresses it before delivering it to the hydraulic pressure line.
Overbraking can reduce the air pressure in the lines, making it harder to actually stop the vehicle. If an emergency occurs before the compressor can draw enough air, the brakes don’t work as efficiently as they usually would, potentially leading to a brake failure accident.
However, there are more reasons a truck’s brake system may fail.
Defective Brake System Designs
This is one of the minor common causes of brake failure, and it often goes unnoticed. This is because truck brakes are designed following a standard design across all truck models, with little to no changes.
If a manufacturer decides, however, to change a part to one that’s prone to failure under certain conditions, it may render the vehicle unable to stop in certain circumstances. Similarly, shifting away from the tried and true designs may result in issues down the road.
In some cases, truck brakes may have defects arising from the manufacturing process. However, this issue is generally limited to a single set of brakes rather than a whole product line. A truck brake can be defectively manufactured even if the manufacturer doesn’t change the design itself.
Even a small flaw during the manufacturing process can have a detrimental effect on the brake’s efficiency. Defects are a natural occurrence in manufacturing, but if they’re not caught, they can lead to truck brake failure.
Transport companies only make money when their trucks are on the road. That means that they’re potentially losing money with every hour the truck sits in a repair shop. The need to increase revenue and get freight to its destination quickly mean that, sometimes, truck maintenance gets postponed as long as possible.
The longer a truck goes between maintenances, though, the more likely it is that a part will fail. In time, that can lead to a truck’s braking system deteriorating to the point that it can no longer bring the truck to a stop when needed.
What to Do Immediately After a Truck Accident
Although most truck accidents resulting from brake failure are serious, some of them only cause minor injuries. If you are involved in such an accident, you should do your best to tend to your injuries before taking further steps.
Once you’ve got that covered — and are physically able to do so — you should take the following additional steps to increase your likelihood of getting compensated for your injuries.
Seek Medical Attention
This should be your first priority. Even if your injuries don’t seem severe, you should still seek medical attention. A doctor may identify injuries that aren’t immediately apparent, such as concussions or internal bleeding. Also, insurance companies may claim that your injuries are not serious if you don’t seek medical attention right after the accident.
Call the Police
Under New Jersey law, you should call the police immediately if an accident results in property damage, injury, or death.
Even if you don’t have any apparent injuries, you should still contact the police, as truck accident injuries might have long-term effects. In the case of long-term injury, having an official accident report can go a long way in strengthening your case.
Watch What You Say
It would be best if you only speak factually when addressing anyone at the scene of an accident. New Jersey negligence laws allow for reduction of compensation if the injured person was partially responsible for the accident.
Insurance companies might take advantage of what you said after the accident to reduce the amount of compensation. Even saying something as polite as “I’m sorry” can be used as an admission of fault.
Gather Relevant Information at the Accident Scene
If you are physically able to, you should gather as much information as possible from the accident scene, including the following:
- The truck’s license number and DOT number
- The truck driver’s name, contact information, and license information
- The truck driver’s insurance information
Other helpful information includes:
- The name of the transport company that owns the truck
- The truck’s make and model
- Clear photographs of the condition of both the truck and your vehicle
- Contact information of any witnesses
What Happens in the Long-Term After an Accident?
Most truck accident claims are settled through negotiations instead of going to litigation. That being said, though, there’s still a process that everyone involved must follow.
Investigate and Document the Accident
You should contact the police and gather as much information as you can from the accident scene. Here, you’ll follow the procedure discussed above.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney
After an accident, contact an experienced trucking accident lawyer so that they can investigate the accident, determine the responsible party and ultimately fight to get fair compensation.
File a Claim With the Insurance Company
Once your trucking accident lawyer determines the responsible party and prepares the necessary documentation, they’ll make a claim with the insurance company. The documentation will also include your injuries and the expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
Multiple insurance companies may be involved if the accident involved multiple vehicles or the truck driver had umbrella insurance.
The insurance claim is typically in the form of a demand letter. The letter explains who was responsible and how much they should pay for damages resulting from the accident.
Wait for the Insurance Company to Review and Respond to the Claim
Once the insurance company reviews the complaint, it can make a settlement offer or refuse to pay. In most cases, the insurance company will have performed its own investigation. Insurance companies often try to minimize their financial responsibility.
It might, for example, claim that the responsible party did not cause the accident or claim that the injured party is partially at fault.
It might also try to downplay the severity of your injuries by claiming that they aren’t that severe.
In most cases, it will make a settlement offer that is too low. In such cases, your lawyer will renegotiate the settlement offer or respond to the insurance company’s denial.
(Potentially) File a Suit
If negotiations with the insurance company bear no fruit, then you may decide to file a lawsuit. However, you can still come to a mutually agreeable settlement with the insurance company at any time during the lawsuit process.
If the injury case does go to trial, a jury will determine the responsible party and the amount they have to pay for damages.
If you are injured or suffer property damage in a truck accident, contact Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo, L.L.P. – RAM Law. We will investigate the accident and build a compelling case to ensure that you get proper compensation.