Out of all the components of a commercial truck, the braking system might be the most important. Without properly working brakes, a big rig puts every other motorist in danger whenever it hauls cargo. Rear-end collisions, in particular, become all the more likely.
After a truck accident involving a commercial truck with defective brakes, who can be held liable for the resulting damages? Someone needs to pay for the victim’s medical bills, lost wages, and so forth. But who will ultimately foot the bill? It could be not one party, but several.
Truck Driver Negligence in Brake Failure Accidents
The first party to name as a defendant in a truck brake failure accident claim is, of course, the truck driver. As the person who was operating the vehicle, they have the most responsibility to do so safely and not cause any accidents.
An experienced truck driver who is paying attention to their surroundings should also notice peculiarities with their own vehicle. That is to say, if their truck’s braking system is acting strangely or seems inefficient for whatever reason, then they should pull over when it is safe to do so, assess the situation, and possibly call for a tow. Failing to recognize the warning signs of an impending brake defect that causes a crash will place liability on the trucker.
Mechanic’s Duty to Provide Safe Repairs
Truck brake failures can often be tied to inadequate repairs and maintenance conducted by a mechanic who serviced the vehicle. When building a truck accident client’s claim, an injury attorney will often want to check mechanic and maintenance records for any signs of these failures. If that information is not shared freely, then it might have to be subpoenaed. Many trucking companies have contracted mechanics who perform all maintenance, so narrowing down the work to one shop should be possible.
If the brake failures can be clearly linked to a botched repair job, then the mechanic could be liable for any resulting accidents. Full liability could be difficult to establish, though, and it is likely that partial liability would be the case. Partial liability requires a claim to name more than one defendant, and any awards or settlements at the end of a successful claim would be divided among them.
Truck Load Crew Responsibility
Did you know that most commercial truck drivers are instructed not to assist with the loading and unloading of cargo at each of its destinations? Instead, load crews who are receiving and/or shipping freight are in charge of that process. For example, a truck driver bringing pallets of product to a retail store will usually take a break inside the store while the load crew works on unloading the truck and putting outbound shipments onto it.
This unexpected division of labor can shift some truck accident liability onto those load crews and the companies that employ them. Truck drivers have to trust that load crews will appropriately load and unload cargo, bearing in mind both weight distributions and the total weight of the vehicle.
If a truck is overloaded and exceeds its weight limit because a load crew put too much cargo into the trailer, then the braking system is more likely to fail. Any resulting crash could result in a partial liability split between the trucking company and the company that employed the load crew.
Getting to the Bottom of Truck Accident Liability
As it can be seen, liability determinations in truck accidents can vary greatly. The previous examples are only a few of many that could be explored. To best handle your truck accident claim and get a clearer idea of what parties are truly liable for your damages, you should work with a truck accident attorney from the start.
McHargue & Jones, LLC handles truck accident claims for people in Chicago and Cook County. Call (312) 487-2461 if you need our firm’s help for a case of your own.