Brake Failure Semi-Truck Accidents in Charlotte, NC
Many commercial vehicles on North Carolina roads have brakes that are defective, out of alignment, or simply worn out. When those brakes fail, anyone in the vicinity of the truck is at risk of serious harm.
Many people involved in truck accidents suffer severe injuries and extensive financial losses. In North Carolina, victims can file claims for compensation from the liable party(s), which can provide money to account for medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning potential, pain and suffering, and more.
Identifying who is liable for a truck brake failure accident is a complex process, with many possible defendants. Don’t try to figure it out by yourself. Contact an experienced truck accident attorney in Charlotte at Stewart Law Offices to discuss your rights to compensation.
Our law firm has more than 30 years of experience representing injured people in the Queen City, Mecklenburg County, and the surrounding communities. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.
What Is Truck Brake Failure?
Brake problems are a consistent problem in the trucking industry. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recorded more than 570,000 brake violations in commercial trucks in a recent year. In addition, around 12 percent of large trucks inspected during the Consumer Vehicle Safety Alliance’s weeklong International Roadcheck were placed out of service for brake-related violations.
When truck brakes function properly, they apply pressure to both the front and rear wheels to prevent them from spinning freely. The resulting friction allows trucks to slow and stop safely. Calipers and brake pads apply this pressure to front wheels, while brake drums and shoes apply pressure to rear wheels.
In most automobiles, a special fluid is used to create pressure within brake lines. But in large commercial trucks, air-powered brake systems are more common. With air brake systems, multiple braking units can be linked throughout the length of a semi-truck, which allows drivers to control them directly from a truck’s cab.
Unfortunately, consistent exposure to friction and other extreme forces can cause truck brakes to wear down quickly, increasing the chances of brake failure accidents. Product defects, improper adjustment, or even simple brake misalignment can also lead to these types of crashes.
Common Causes of Brake Problems in Trucks
Truck brakes are designed to wear down over time. But usually, only serious negligence results in complete brake failures.
Brake problems are commonly caused by:
- Improper maintenance: Trucking companies and owner-operators are required by law to inspect, maintain, and repair any trucks under their control at regular intervals. In some cases, negligent owners may attempt to save time or money by skipping inspections, hiring unscrupulous inspectors, or even forgoing repairs altogether.
- Imbalance: Brake imbalance can happen when certain brakes are applied more frequently or with more force than others. Imbalance can also result from mismatched components or defects in an air brake system that applies more pressure to some brakes than others.
- Overheating: Semi-trucks are particularly difficult to slow or stop when traveling downhill. The friction that results from persistent braking can cause brakes to overheat, especially if truck drivers do not know proper braking techniques or if the brakes have not been properly maintained. Overheating can also cause brakes to weaken and lock up, leading to a dangerous loss of control.
- Overloaded cargo: One of the main reasons commercial trucks are so difficult to stop is their tremendous size and weight. If trucking companies or cargo-loading companies choose to overload trailers beyond their recommended capacity, the excessive weight can cause brake failures.
- Design or manufacturing defects: In some cases, brakes or braking systems may have design flaws or manufacturing defects that prevent them from working properly.
Liability in a Brake Failure Truck Accident
In accidents between passenger cars, liability typically falls upon the drivers involved in the crash. In accidents that involve large commercial trucks, there are often several parties aside from the truck driver who may be responsible for creating the conditions that caused the wreck.
Possible defendants in a Charlotte brake failure truck accident include:
- Truck drivers: No matter who owns a commercial truck, the driver is responsible for conducting safety inspections before, during, and after their trips. Failure to do so could mean that they are partly liable for a brake failure accident.
- Trucking companies: Shipping companies that own commercial truck fleets are legally responsible for the safety of their vehicles, which includes making sure trucks are of good quality, regularly maintained, and driven by well-trained professionals.
- Cargo loading companies: Truck companies sometimes partner with third parties who are responsible for loading cargo onto trailers. Overloaded trucks put too much stress on braking systems, increasing the risk of a failure.
- Brake manufacturers: If a truck’s brakes fail even though the truck was driven safely and maintained properly, it could indicate a problem with the braking system itself. Manufacturers may be held liable in product liability lawsuits if accident victims prove that the brakes were defective from the start.
- Truck mechanics: Qualified truck mechanics understand the rules of proper maintenance and inspection. If they fail to uphold proper brake inspection or repair standards, their negligence could contribute to brake failure truck crashes.
Why the Brake Manufacturer Could Be Liable
Brake manufacturers may be held liable in brake failure truck accident claims when:
- They make changes to brake system designs without proper safety testing.
- They design brake systems that are prone to failure in certain normal conditions.
- They manufacture brake systems without following proper designs or procedures.
- They manufacture or assemble brake systems with missing parts or components.
To prove that a manufacturer was responsible for the brake failure that caused your truck accident, you will need to demonstrate that the brakes were designed poorly or manufactured negligently. This requires significant research and knowledge of similar cases, which can be difficult for those without legal training — and especially for those recovering from serious injuries.
Let a trusted Charlotte truck accident lawyer at Stewart Law Offices do the heavy work for you. We’ll devote our time and resources into building a product liability claim that stands up to even the toughest challenges.
How an Attorney Can Help Prove Brake Failure
Proving that a truck accident was caused by brake failure requires a thorough investigation. At Stewart Law Offices, our attorneys will work relentlessly to identify what happened and who should be held responsible for your Charlotte brake failure accident case.
Our lawyers will collect strong evidence to support your claim, such as:
- Truck maintenance records, which may indicate negligent brake inspection or repair practices
- “Black box” data from trucks’ electronic logging systems, which provide useful information recorded just before a crash, such as vehicle speed and brake status
- Post-crash investigations of large truck air brakes, which can test the operability of various components, gauges, and warning systems to identify brake defects or system imbalance
- Police reports, which often include crash diagrams, toxicology results, and official determinations regarding who was at fault for the accident
- Statements from drivers, passengers, and any other eyewitnesses
- Photos or video footage of the crash scene
- Testimony from accident reconstruction specialists who examined the brake system to determine what went wrong
This evidence, combined with your medical records and proof of other losses, will build a strong case for maximum compensation for you.
Injured in a Charlotte Semi-Truck Accident? Contact Stewart Law Offices Today
The aftermath of a truck accident can be catastrophic. You shouldn’t have to pay for your injuries and other damages if someone else is to blame. Put Stewart Law Offices to work for you. Our truck accident lawyers in Charlotte have dedicated our careers to demanding justice for injured people, and we’re good at what we do.
Questions? Call or contact us today for help with your Charlotte semi-truck accident case. All initial consultations are free.