The brakes on commercial trucks, buses, and other large vehicles are often different from those on the average passenger vehicle. While regular cars will usually have hydraulic brakes, most heavy trucks use air brakes to slow or bring the vehicle to a stop.
These brake systems are complex systems that require specialized knowledge and skill to maintain. If the brakes on a commercial vehicle that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded with cargo fail due to a defect, improper maintenance, or another reason, a catastrophic injury accident could occur.
If you have been injured in a truck accident caused by brake failure in South Carolina, you could be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and more. At Jebaily Law Firm, our South Carolina truck accident attorneys have more than 100 years of combined legal experience that we’re ready to put to work for you.
Call us or reach out to us online for a free consultation today.
Why Truck Brakes Fail
Truck brakes may fail for numerous reasons. Brakes may begin to degrade months or even years before they ultimately fail. When brake systems fail, the most common causes tend to be:
- Defective brake system design
- Defective manufacturing of the brake system
- Poor maintenance of the brake system
- Overuse or misuse of the brake system
Determining what caused the brakes to fail is crucial in a truck accident claim. Multiple parties potentially could be responsible. These parties could include the owner of the truck, the driver, the brake manufacturer, a third-party maintenance company, or others.
Why Are Truck Brake Failure Accidents So Common?
Truck brake failures are so common because air brakes are complex systems that require skilled installation and maintenance. Drivers must have specialized training to operate air brakes properly. Negligence on any party responsible for the truck’s performance could lead to a devastating accident.
In some instances, design or manufacturing issues or poor maintenance could cause brakes to fail. Blame could sometimes fall on the driver as well.
The brake system in a passenger vehicle operates on basic hydraulic pressure lines. That is sufficient for a passenger vehicle, but a truck that is fully loaded with cargo requires a more sophisticated braking system. In a large commercial truck, an air compressor pumps air pressure into air tanks, which then exert pressure on the truck’s brakes when a driver attempts to slow down or stop.
By overusing the brake system, truck drivers can deplete the air pressure in the tanks before the air compressor has enough time to refill the tanks with fresh air. Truck drivers often overuse braking systems on long downhill drives, for instance. When the tanks have no air, the brake system cannot utilize air pressure to properly stop or slow the truck.
Most Common Brake Problems That Can Result in a Truck Accident in Florence
Some of the most common brake issues that can cause truck accidents to include:
- Improper maintenance
- Poorly adjusted brakes
- Overheated brakes
- Worn brake components
- Incorrect air pressure or pressurization system failures
Types of Truck Accidents Caused by Brake Failure
Brake failure is more likely to cause certain types of truck accidents than others. Among the most common crashes brake failure can cause are:
- Rear-end collisions – Rear-end collisions can happen when brakes fail and a truck driver cannot come to a complete stop before hitting the vehicle in front of them.
- Speeding collisions – Speeding accidents can occur when bad brakes prevent the truck driver from reducing their speed in accordance with the speed limit.
- Intersection collisions – Intersection collisions can happen when a truck’s brakes give out as the truck is approaching an intersection where they need to stop.
Serious Injuries That Occur When Truck Brakes Give Out
Truck accidents caused by failed brakes can cause devastating injuries, especially when the truck is moving at high speed. Some common injuries that occur in these types of accidents include:
- Brain injuries
- Loss of a limb
- Fractured bones
- Spine injuries
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Severe burns
Truck Brake Failure Facts and Figures
According to the FMCSA’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study, vehicle brake problems play a role in around 29% of large truck crashes. Brake issues were considered the top factor in large truck crashes, according to the study.
Pursuing an Injury Claim After a Trucking Accident
If you were injured in a truck accident, you could be entitled to compensation. Compensation is designed to compensate the injured party for economic and non-economic losses resulting from the accident, such as:
- Medical expenses, including hospital bills, physical therapy expenses, prescription medication costs, and more.
- Lost earnings if you are unable to return to work due to the accident
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life
- Property damage
Seeking compensation for injuries caused by a truck accident can be more challenging than for harm suffered in a collision involving just passenger vehicles. That is because truck accidents are often more complicated due to different types of evidence (including maintenance logs and other documentation), the severity of injuries, and the fact that multiple parties could potentially be liable.
For instance, if the brake failure occurred due to poor maintenance, that could mean that the trucking company or a third-party maintenance company might be liable. If the brake failure occurred due to a mechanical defect, the manufacturer of the brakes could potentially be held responsible.
Insurance is another factor in truck accidents. Most trucks carry insurance coverage with substantially higher limits – often $1 million or more. With so much money on the line, you can count on the insurance companies to put up an aggressive fight. That is why it is vital to consult with an experienced truck accident attorney before starting the claim process.
How Our Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help You
At Jebaily Law Firm, we have the knowledge and resources to independently investigate truck accidents, determine liability, calculate damages, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. We are ready to use every legal tool at our disposal to help you seek the total amount of compensation you deserve.
Contact our South Carolina truck accident lawyers today for a consultation.