Truckers often get a bad rep for accidents on the road. Whether speeding or driving while fatigued, there are several points of blame directed at truck drivers. Truckers certainly deserve some responsibility for tractor-trailer accidents, especially when driving impaired or failing to observe road rules. However, sometimes it is defective truck parts that cause accidents. When this happens, it can completely change the nature of the case.
The Most Common Examples of Truck Parts Defects
Big companies make most truck parts and design them to last a long time. However, manufacturing errors and poor maintenance can cause them to fail. Here are some common examples.
Trucking is very lucrative and companies are constantly looking to cut costs. Sometimes, this can mean using cheaper materials or improper manufacturing practices when building the engine. This can lead to parts breaking down prematurely.
In some cases, engine failures can cause the truck to catch fire or explode. The flames can spread throughout a trailer and cause severe damage to cargo or even other vehicles on the road. Failure to retire older trucks can increase the risk of engine failure.
When the transmission fails, this can be a perilous situation. If the driver isn’t aware of the problem and continues to drive, it can cause severe wear and tear on other parts, including damaging valves and pistons.
Transmission failures are often caused by overheating and defective gaskets that aren’t strong enough for commercial vehicles. Transmissions affect the truck’s ability to haul safely, especially in uphill conditions. Failure could cause the truck to stop uphill or even start rolling backward.
Tire failure is a common cause of truck accidents and many tires have been recalled for poor manufacturing or wear problems. When it comes to tire defects, the most dangerous are typically blowouts. Low air pressure or improperly manufactured tires can cause blowouts.
Blowouts can cause truckers to lose control of tractor-trailers. That can cause the trailer to sway or jackknife. Tire debris can sometimes hit passersby and cause death or injury. Blowouts also pose a severe risk to truckers, who often die in these crashes.
Brakes on big trucks are designed to be highly durable and last many years. However, in some cases, brakes can fail or even catch fire. Several factors can cause this, including poor maintenance by truckers and defective parts from the manufacturer.
Brake failure commonly happens because of overheating, leaking brake liners, brittle calipers or ABS failure. This is a scary scenario in any vehicle, but it is especially devastating for vehicles weighing up to 80,000 lbs.
When steering fails, a tractor-trailer has almost no control over how it moves. If a load is improperly secured or the trucker isn’t aware of the problem, this can result in hazardous situations on the road.
Improperly functioning steering is often caused by defective parts ― the most common being worn tie rods and ball joints. Steering failure risks increase when truckers do not pay close enough attention to driving conditions.
Any trucker who has experienced a blown headlight or taillight knows how frustrating and dangerous it can be. While this is often due to maintenance problems, defective lights are often to blame. Improper lighting can cause issues with visibility and lead to accidents.
When defects happen in trailer lighting, they’re often caused by failed lenses and bulbs. In some cases, corroded fuses and detached wiring are also to blame. Light failure on the tractor could make it difficult to alert other drivers of slowing down, stopping or turning maneuvers.
The Potentially Liable Parties for Defective Truck Parts Accident
At first glance, the responsible party seems obvious. The manufacturer should take the blame for producing a shoddy product and failing to do proper quality testing. However, the reality is often a bit more complicated.
The truck driver may be liable depending on how a defect caused an accident. Truckers are responsible for inspecting their vehicles before driving. They often skip this step or go over things quickly to get on the road. If an accident later occurs because they missed something, the court could hold them liable.
If the trucker was negligent, there’s a chance the company he or she works for will be held liable as well. When companies own or manage fleets, they also have a responsibility to complete maintenance and inspections regularly. Accidents resulting from a failure to do so will likely come back to these companies as negligence.
In many cases, the cause of a defect is human error ― usually by one of the mechanics who worked on the vehicle before it ended up in an accident. This can include improper wiring or other maintenance issues that lead to further problems down the road. Mechanics managing an entire fleet also have an increased risk of missing a truck.
Truck Parts Manufacturer
If a defect results from poor manufacturing or subpar parts, the manufacturer may be held responsible for any injuries that occur due to said defects. Even though this scenario seems much less likely than other possibilities, it happens. Sometimes the manufacturer of the truck itself could become liable.
The Damages You May Receive for a Defective Truck Parts Accident
When a tractor-trailer accident occurs because of defective parts, your personal injury attorney may seek compensation from all liable parties. This may mean more than one party is contacted to pay for damages and injuries. Here are some examples of the types of damages.
If you sustain injuries because of a defect, the medical expenses add up quickly. Depending on how severe the injuries are and how long you need to stay in the hospital, these costs can be pretty high. Your lawyer will try to ensure coverage for all expenses, such as ambulance rides, doctor appointments and medications.
When you’re unable to work because of your injuries, your attorney will seek compensation for any lost wages from the defendants. This amount is typically calculated based on an average weekly take-home pay multiplied by the number of weeks it takes for you to recover or get back to work. It may also include salary for missed days with a reduced rate if needed.
Pain and Suffering
If your accident resulted in a chronic or debilitating condition, your attorney would likely seek compensation for pain and suffering. Your attorney may calculate this as a lump sum representing the overall pain you are experiencing.
Some cases involve such gross negligence that the court decides to set an example by awarding additional compensation to punish the liable person. Punitive damages can turn a five-figure case into a six-figure one or higher. The goal is to make an example of the offender(s) and discourage a recurrence of the incident.
How To File a Claim for a Defective Truck Parts Accident
Starting a claim as soon as possible is critical to the success rate. The longer you wait, the more difficult it could become to find witnesses, collect evidence and reconstruct what happened. Your attorney might recommend waiting to see the prognosis from doctors before filing a case. He or she will likely continue to collect evidence at this time.
When you hire an experienced attorney, he or she handles the legal process, so you can focus on recovering from your injuries ― or mourning your loss. Contact our team at Siegfried and Jensen to see how we can help.