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Who is Liable for Defective Brakes on Trucks?

A recent study that was performed by the Department of Transportation discovered that approximately 29.4 percent of all crashes involving large trucks featured some sort of brake-related issue, such as brakes being out of adjustment or general brake failure. With these types of issues being so prevalent, who may be held liable when these issues cause an accident that leads to injuries to other people on the road?

In an accident caused by defective brakes, any of the following parties could be held legally responsible:

  • The driver of the truck
  • The company that was in charge of loading the truck
  • The party that is supposed to regularly maintain the brakes (such as the owner-operator)
  • The company that manufactured the brakes

Brake manufacturers must ensure that brakes meet certain standards of safety. All brakes for large trucks must be able to have a certain braking force, calculated according to a percentage of the truck’s weight. They also must be able to come to a stop from 20 mph at a size-specific rate, and meet the requirements for an automatic brake adjustment system.

Drivers and trucking companies are typically held liable in situations where they choose to depower the front brakes to save fuel or to minimize the wear on the breaks to save on expenses. They may also simply fail to regularly maintain the breaks to ensure that they’re in good working order. Improper loading can also lead to brake failure, as an uneven load distribution could cause the breaks to malfunction and eventually overheat.

If you believe that a serious truck accident was due to a brake failure, speak with an Atlanta personal injury attorney at McMenamy Law, LLC for the information and guidance you need.