Chicago Truck Brake Failure Lawyer For People Injured in Semi Crashes
When a truck's brakes fail, it is one of the most dangerous things possible for every other driver on the road and their passengers.
Victims of accidents with commercial trucks will suffer serious injuries that may remain with them for their entire life. If you have been the victim of an accident where there was a brake malfunction, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
First, you need to contact an experienced truck accident attorney to investigate your crash and help you seek financial compensation.
Brake Failure Statistics
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, brake failure was among the top ten coded causes of large truck crashes. In fact, brake failure played a role in the highest number of crashes.
In a study, the FMCSA found that brake problems were a factor in 29% of truck crashes. When a tractor trailer is traveling at 65 miles per hour, it takes roughly 550 feet to bring it to a complete stop.
This is more than one-tenth of a mile, and is almost double the length that it takes to stop a passenger car. Even a slight problem with the braking system will exponentially raise the odds of a crash. Chances are that the crash will be serious.
Victims Suffer Serious Injuries in Truck Accidents
Truck accidents with brake failure will be particularly hazardous and dangerous. Brake failure means that the truck is likely traveling at a dangerous speed.
The truck driver may not be able to slow the truck down. The driver may lose control of the vehicle if they must take a curve or turn without being able to slow down.
Passenger car drivers may suffer serious injuries if they are struck by an out-of-control truck, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
How a Truck Braking System Works
There is zero margin for error when it comes to truck brakes. Tractor trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded.
A tractor trailer takes much longer to bring to a complete stop than a passenger vehicle that weighs on average around 3,000 pounds.
Most commercial trucks are equipped with air brakes. An air braking system will use compressed air to push the brake shoe lining onto the brake drum, creating friction to slow the wheel down. This is a technically complex process, and there are plenty of ways that something could go wrong.
Truck Drivers Should Be Trained for Brake Failure
Just because the brakes failed does not mean that it has to automatically cause a serious truck accident. Driver skill and experience can help bring a runaway truck under control.
One of the first things that a truck driver should do is find a runaway truck ramp where they can safely pull the truck off the highway. Truck drivers should take their foot off the accelerator and downshift the truck in an attempt to slow down.
While there is no legal obligation to hire only experienced truck drivers, the truck company must check the driving record of every trucker that it hires.
Even though the trucking company may try to save money by hiring less experienced drivers, it may end up facing crushing legal liability that a veteran truck driver could have saved them by controlling the truck when the brakes fail.
Suing the Trucking Company for Brake Failure
Most often, you would sue trucking companies when the brakes failed. The trucking company is legally responsible to ensure that the truck is inspected and in proper working order before it sends the truck out onto the road.
The truck driver must also perform their own visual inspections (although they may not spot problems with the brakes with the naked eye).
Federal regulations require that the truck's brakes be operative at all times. Trucks must be equipped with sensors and warning devices that would show a driver when the truck is experiencing brake failure.
There are strict federal regulations that monitor the performance of brakes. If trucks do not meet these metrics, they should be off the road until the brakes are repaired.
Suing the Maintenance Company When the Truck's Brakes Fail
Some smaller trucking companies may not have their own maintenance people on staff to do the work necessary to prevent brake failure.
Owner-operators or those who own only a few vehicles may outsource their maintenance to a specialized company. That company can be sued if their failure to properly maintain the truck's brakes caused the failure and the accident.
The trucking company may still not be off the hook legally when they hire someone else to perform maintenance. When a trucking company outsources any function or hires an independent contractor, they have a legal obligation to closely scrutinize who they hire.
If not, they can be liable for the brake failure itself or for negligent hiring.
Product Liability Lawsuits for Braking Systems Failure
One possibility is that the brakes themselves can be defective. Either the rotors or the brake pads may not work as intended, causing brake failure. When that happens, the company that made the truck or the part itself can be sued in a product liability lawsuit.
These cases are very scientific and technical. Your lawyer would work with expert witnesses to prove that the brakes themselves were defective.
There are three different types of product defects that can make the defendant liable:
- Design defects- there is something inherent in the product's design that makes it unreasonably dangerous to the user (this would tend to affect all products that have the same design)
- Manufacturing defects- the product departs from the intended design, and it becomes unreasonably dangerous
- Marketing defects- the manufacturer of the brakes knew or should have known of a potential danger and failed to warn the public about it
If you are filing a product liability lawsuit, you will be able to sue anyone who was involved in the stream of commerce. Most often, people sue the manufacturer, but you can also sue the dealer or store that sold the brakes.
Compensation for a Tractor Trailer Accident
Truck accident lawyers will seek the following compensation for you when you have been injured in an accident:
- Your complete medical costs
- Property damage to your vehicle
- Lost wages for the time that you missed from work and your loss of earnings capacity
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death damages if your family member was killed in an accident
Given the severity of a truck accident that happens at full speed or when the truck is out of control, these damages can be considerable.
You will likely be working with the trucking company's insurance provider to negotiate a settlement.
They will not want to pay you for the full amount of your damages. An aggressive truck accident attorney will need to fight for you to receive the full amount of compensation.
Call Our Law Office for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help you. Our truck accident lawyers are experienced and know how to go after the trucking companies that caused your accident.
You can reach out to us online or call us at (888) 424-5757 to schedule your free consultation. We value our attorney client relationship with you and work to get you the highest possible financial compensation after your crash. We serve clients in Chicago and throughout the United States.