Brake Failure Truck Accidents

Tulsa Brake Failure Truck Accidents

Brake failure in large commercial trucks creates a significant hazard on Oklahoma roads. Due to their size and weight, trucks pose an enormous danger to other motorists and pedestrians.

In addition, large trucks frequently carry hazardous materials. Commercial vehicles often haul explosive or flammable materials or toxic chemicals. If a truck’s brakes fail, the driver can lose control of the vehicle, hitting other motorists and pedestrians. A brake failure truck accident usually results in devastating consequences.

There are several state and federal regulations to ensure a truck’s braking system is in proper working order. Truck drivers are required to be familiar with the braking system on large commercial vehicles and inspect them frequently.

What Are the Federal and State Regulations to Prevent Truck Brake Failure Accidents?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the state of Oklahoma have safety regulations that govern the inspection, maintenance, and repair of large commercial vehicles.

Under FMCSA regulations:

  • Trucking companies and owners of large trucks must regularly inspect motor carrier vehicles
  • Truck parts and accessories must be in safe and proper condition or repaired immediately
  • Trucking companies, owners, and drivers are expected to maintain records of all services, including repairs or replacements
  • Inspectors must meet strict qualifications to be certified for commercial truck inspections, especially concerning braking systems

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troop S is an inspection program set at various locations throughout the state. They conduct roadside commercial vehicle inspections to help reduce the frequency of brake failure truck accidents.

Brake failure is a major concern for commercial trucks. The FMCSA and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) sponsor a yearly “Brake Safety Week.” During the annual program, local, state, and federal safety officials conduct brake system inspections, checking commercial trucks for:

  • Air or hydraulic fluid leaks
  • Anti-lock braking system indicator lights
  • The lining of pads, drums, and rotors
  • Loose or missing brake system components

If a motor carrier vehicle is found to have violations, they are immediately placed out of service.

How Common are Braking System Violations?

Every year large commercial trucks and busses are rigorously inspected for safety. If a truck’s fluids are running too low or the braking pads are worn, the vehicle may be placed out of order.

An out-of-service order violation (OOS) is a civil violation. In most cases, drivers or trucking companies are given hefty fines. Truck drivers may be placed on suspension for a specified period of time.
In the last reporting year:

  • 12,000, or 17.9% of all motor carrier vehicles inspected were placed out of service
  • 4,578 OOSs were due to various brake violations
  • Brake violations totaled more than four times the amount of all other inspection infractions
  • Brake adjustment violations accounted for 17.1% of OOSs
  • Braking system violations accounted for 28% of OOSss

The FMCSA yearly report reveals that brake failure remains the most common cause of large truck accidents. Nearly 30% of collisions involving large trucks cited brake failure as a factor in the accident.

What Causes Brake Failure in Truck Accidents?

Brake failure on trucks is a common cause of motor carrier accidents that can easily be prevented by inspecting vehicles regularly. The brakes on a large truck involve a complex and powerful system that requires frequent maintenance to operate efficiently.

Truck drivers, inspectors, and specific local and state agencies must pass rigorous training to be familiar with the braking system. Truck drivers especially must be able to feel, spot, or listen for a potential problem with the brake pads, rotors, fluids, or other components.

Some of the most common causes of brake failure truck accidents involve:

  • Lack of proper training: A license to drive a commercial truck includes training for inspecting the vehicle. If a driver fails to check the brakes on a truck, fails to report a brake problem, or otherwise willfully ignores the set professional standards, it can lead to a brake failure truck accident on the road.
  • Lack of maintenance: Motor carrier vehicles are required to be regularly inspected so that brakes and other components can be given proper maintenance, fixed, or replaced. Routine maintenance can prevent or catch leaky fluid lines, misalignment of the brake parts, and other mechanical issues.
  • Improper inspections, maintenance, or repairs: Only technicians specifically trained to service and repair commercial trucks should be allowed to work on the vehicles. In addition, inspections may only be performed by specially trained personnel. If an untrained technician attempts repairs, it can worsen the original problem. An unqualified inspector may miss a critical braking component malfunction. Brake failure can also occur when trained inspectors and technicians make negligent mistakes.

A large majority of brake failure truck accidents can be prevented. With numerous safety regulations, many instances of brake failure issues can be attributed to negligence.

What are the Most Common Brake Issues that Lead to Truck Accidents?

Brake problems are a factor in the majority of large truck accidents. The most common brake system issues include:

  • Overheating brakes
  • Faulty suspension
  • Brake tube kinking or chafing
  • Brake imbalance
  • Overwhelmed braking system due to trailer overload
  • Lack of lubrication

Brakes need frequent maintenance and regular repairs. When a motor carrier vehicle’s brake system becomes faulty, it can lead to serious and deadly collisions.

Who is Responsible for a Brake Failure Truck Accidents

Liability can be complicated for truck accidents involving brake failure. In some cases, multiple parties may be responsible for the collision.

Following a detailed investigation into the accident, if the brake failure is found to be a crucial factor in the collision, the following parties may be held liable:

  • The trucking company
  • The truck driver
  • The truck’s manufacturer
  • The freight owner
  • An inspector or maintenance technician
  • The truck’s primary maintenance company

Proving negligence involves gathering extensive evidence. Motor carrier vehicles require the drivers and the trucking companies to keep detailed records. Nearly every truck is outfitted with some type of data-collection device, usually called a black box.

Records can determine when inspections and maintenance repairs were made, by whom, and if any inspections or scheduled maintenance visits were missed. Investigating and comparing logbooks and recorded data can reveal violations of FMCSA regulations.

The Importance of Preserving Evidence

Unlike other car wrecks, truck accidents involve vehicles in the service of a company. When a truck is involved in an accident, an investigation is conducted by local law enforcement and the truck’s owner or trucking company. The insurance company may also investigate the crash for liability and property damage.

Investigations are motivated to be quick so that the truck can be repaired and placed back into service. Unfortunately, repairing the vehicle means erasing and destroying critical evidence.

For an injured claimant, preserving the critical evidence stored on the at-fault truck is crucial to recovering the full value of their claim.

Trucking companies typically will have a team of lawyers and insurance adjusters. The primary goal for a trucking company is to limit liability and minimize or deny any payouts. It is in their best interests if the digital records on a truck are erased with the new repairs.

However, if a claimant retains capable representation, a truck accident lawyer can send demand letters to preserve all evidence. The true value of a truck accident claim can then be assessed with all pertinent information.

What Damages Are Typically Awarded in an Oklahoma Brake Failure Truck Accident

The types of damages typically awarded in an Oklahoma brake failure truck accident vary with the details of the collision. An injured claimant may be entitled to economic damages, including:

  • Property damage: Property damage includes vehicle damage and items damaged in the passenger car, like prescription glasses, electronics, and clothing.
  • Legal fees and court costs
  • Loss of income: Income can include lost wages for missed work and loss of future earnings for disabling or partially disabling injuries.
  • Medical bills: Medical bills include any treatments, surgeries, in-patient care, and physical therapy.
  • Medical equipment or devices: Injured claimants may need crutches or a wheelchair temporarily or permanently.
  • Home modifications: When injuries cause permanent damage, home and vehicle modifications may be necessary for a claimant to regain some mobility.

Economic damages can include anything of value that was damaged in the truck accident or any monetary losses during recovery.

An injured claimant may be entitled to an array of non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are difficult to assess due to their intangible nature and are derived from the physical and psychological pain experienced as a result of the collision:

  • Pain and suffering: The immediate physical pain caused by the truck accident and subsequent pain experienced during recovery and treatments
  • Psychological suffering: Psychological suffering refers to the mental and emotional pain that results in sleep disorders, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other short and long-term effects.

In some cases, psychological suffering may take the form of multiple damages, such as loss of enjoyment of life damages or emotional distress damages.

Tulsa Brake Failure Truck Accident Lawyers

The personal injury attorneys at Graves McLain can assist accident victims in recovering compensation for their claims. Call (918) 359-6600 and schedule a free consultation with a Tulsa brake failure truck accident lawyer.

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