There are many causes of trucking accidents, including driver negligence; however, one major cause of trucking accidents is the owner or operator’s failure to maintain the truck and trailer in a safe manner. For example, a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that an estimated 29% of large truck accidents were caused by faulty brakes. Despite federal and state regulations setting forth minimum safety standards for larger commercial vehicles and trucks, many owners and operators fail to ensure their trucks are safe enough to be on the road, as well as fail to meet the applicable federal safety standards.
Both state and federal law govern and set the minimum safety standards required of interstate and intrastate carriers. These minimum standards are codified under federal law as the Motor Carrier Act which requires, in part, that every commercial motor vehicle must be operated in accordance with the laws, ordinances, and regulations of the jurisdiction in which it is being operated. However, if a regulation of the Federal Highway Administration imposes a higher standard of care than that law, ordinance or regulation, the Federal Highway Administration regulation must be complied with.” 49 C.F.R § 392.2. The federal agency responsible for promulgating these safety regulations is known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Failure to maintain, in the context of a commercial trucking accident, is the owner or operator’s failure to maintain their trucks and trailers in accordance with federal, state, and local safety standards, as required under the Motor Carrier Act. Generally speaking, failure to maintain claims manifest themselves in three major ways: failure to maintain brakes, failure to maintain tires, and failure to maintain trailers. While this is not an exhaustive list of ways in which an owner or operator could fail to maintain their truck or trailer, these are three of the most common ways in which owners and operators negligently operate their trucks.
As cited above, an estimated 29% of all large commercial truck accidents are caused by faulty brakes. A truck’s owner or operator’s failure to properly maintain the truck’s brakes can affect the driver’s ability to stop and safely operate the truck—putting those sharing the road at grave risk. When an 18-wheeler’s brakes fail, especially given the weight of the truck and trailer, a catastrophic accident can occur, causing great injuries to other drivers.
Whether you live in a big city or small town, hearing of a truck tire blowout is almost a daily event. A tire blowout, unlike a flat tire, is when there is a sudden and unexpected burst or rupture of the truck’s tire, usually when the truck is moving at a high rate of speed. When a tire blowout happens, the driver can lose control of the truck, causing him or her to hit nearby vehicles, or even cause the truck to rollover. Unfortunately, tire blowouts are generally caused by a failure to regularly and properly inspect the truck’s tires, and failure to repair or replace tires when needed. These failures to properly maintain the truck’s tires are in violation of the Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations and guidelines.
Semi-trucks are required by federal law to ensure that their trailers are safely secured and properly aligned when hooked-up. Often, drivers are in a hurry to either pick-up or deliver their cargo, causing them to fail to ensure the trailer is properly aligned. A malalignment of the trailer causes unnecessary and increased pressure on the truck’s tires, which affects a driver’s ability to fully and properly control the truck. Additionally, malalignment can also cause uneven and dangerous tire wear, which as discussed above, can cause a tire blowout.
If you have been injured as a result of a commercial truck or 18-wheeler accident, it is important to hire a personal injury attorney who not only understands the impact your injuries have on your daily life, but who also understands the complexity of federal regulations which govern trucking lawsuits. Please do not attempt to determine if you have a compensable case. You must consult a relevant liability attorney who has the expertise and extensive knowledge necessary to determine who ultimately caused the harm and injuries you or a loved one suffered. Contact us for a free case evaluation here.