Federal law 49 C.F.R. § 396.3(a)(1) requires a driver of a tractor trailer to make sure that his or her truck -- including the trailer and cab -- and its equipment are in good working order at all times. Equipment includes all brakes (tractor, trailer, and parking brakes), steering devices, lighting devices, tires, horn, windshield wipers, rear vision mirrors, and coupling devices. Truck drivers, however, are under pressure to deliver their goods and are often exhausted from the long trips. Sometimes truck drivers fail, intentionally or not, to check their truck equipment, leading to equipment failures. Serious auto accidents happen when truck equipment fails. When an 80,000 pound truck slams into a passenger car, serious injuries or death can occur.
According to an extensive study on large truck crash causes, published by the U.S. Department of Transportation and co-authored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 12 percent of truck-related collisions are caused by vehicle-related factors, particularly equipment failure. If you have been involved in an auto collision with a semi-truck, there is more than a 10 percent chance the accident was caused by equipment failure. If that failure is due to negligence, then in New Mexico you can seek compensation for all your damages. You should contact an experienced New Mexico truck equipment failure lawyer immediately.
Discovering Truck Equipment Failures
Inspecting and maintaining truck equipment is a legal requirement and failing to do so can have serious consequences. Examples of truck equipment failure include:
- Brake Failure. If any of the brakes fail, a truck cannot stop properly, and it already requires greater stopping distance than other vehicles.
- Tire Failure. Not checking and maintaining tires can lead to tire tread separations or blowouts.
- Missing Lights. Each truck is required to have flares and warning lights, of particular importance when a trucker pulls to the side of the road to rest -- other cars need to be able to see the parked truck.
- Missing Mirrors. Trucks have blind spots on the sides and back of the truck and require specific mirrors to correct the blind spots.
A good understanding of the relevant mechanics of a truck is in order to be able to discover if a truck accident was caused by equipment failure. A truck is composed of two parts: (1) the tractor; and (2) the trailer. Equipment failure consequences vary depending on which part of the semi-truck the equipment fails.
Possible Consequences of Tractor Equipment Failure
- Unwanted acceleration
- Steering issues
- Total engine failure.
Possible Consequences of Trailer Equipment Failure
- Hazardous materials leak
- Runaway trailer.
These consequences can be caused by other factors, too, which complicates the process to discover the accident origins.
Finding Cause & Holding All Parties Accountable
At Revo Smith Law, we make it our business to thoroughly investigate a truck-related accident. We understand the technical nature and the applicable laws of the trucking industry. We will demand access to driver logs, company logs, and the truck. Depending on what we discover, multiple parties could be responsible for the equipment failure that ultimately caused the accident.
Possible Liable Parties
- Truck Driver. The truck driver has a duty to maintain and inspect the truck he is driving/hauling. Sometimes, they fail to inspect and maintain properly because they are either (1) in a rush to meet a deadline; (2) too tired to inspect properly; or (3) reckless.
- Truck Owner. If the tractor is owned by another party, that party may be responsible for some equipment failure, depending on the circumstances.
- Truck Company. The truck company is required to inspect and maintain the trailer in certain circumstances, and if it fails to do so, it is liable.
- Loaders. If the equipment failed as the result of overloaded or imbalanced cargo, then the loaders may be jointly or separately responsible.
- Manufacturers. If equipment failed from its design or manufacture, the manufacturer is responsible.
It is important to investigate a truck-related accident before the evidence is either lost or destroyed. You should contact an attorney experienced in truck equipment failure as soon as possible.
Have you been injured by a truck driver?
Trucking companies are armed with their own attorneys. They are prepared to fight any claim or lawsuit. You cannot go up against these attorneys alone and unarmed. You require an experienced attorney who knows the trucking business, what technical issues to look for, and how to engage the trucking industry's attorneys. At Revo Smith Law Firm, we have the knowledge and the resources to represent our clients thoroughly and successfully. Contact our office today for a free consultation.