At any given moment on a public roadway, an accident can happen. Distracted driving, drunk driving, and drowsy driving are all commonly cited reasons for accidents. These accidents can easily be prevented with responsible driving. However, what about accidents that seem to be out of the control of the driver—such as when a mechanical problem causes an accident? Though many accidents, including truck accidents, are a result of mechanical problems, in many cases, the accident was preventable.
Commercial trucks and tractor-trailers are massive vehicles, weighing many tons. They are several times the size and weight of other motor vehicles. Therefore, when an accident involving one of these big trucks happens, it can cause serious injury or death and back traffic up for miles.
Both a truck driver and a trucking company may be held responsible for mechanical failures. Some common examples of mechanical failures include:
- Brake failures
- Over- or underinflated tires
- Windshield wiper problems
- Defective brake lights, headlights, or turn signals
- Problems with the steering wheel or suspension
- Engine problems
Any of these issues may suddenly cause an issue that interferes with a truck driver’s ability to safely operate a truck. An accident may happen before the truck driver can safely pull over.
When liability is a possibility
If a mechanical issue arises out of the blue, and the driver cannot avoid an accident, the truck driver and the truck company that owns the truck may be able to avoid liability for any damages that result. However, if the mechanical problem was a known issue and was not properly maintained or repaired, then both the truck driver and the truck company may have to pay damages for the victim’s injuries.
For example, consider the windshield wipers on a tractor-trailer. Though this is a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment, its role in maintaining the safety of the truck driver and surrounding drivers is crucial.
If a truck driver notices that the windshield wipers are worn, he may tell the truck company that they need to be replaced. If the truck company fails to replace the wipers after a number of reminders, the truck company may be liable for an accident if the wipers suddenly could not function during a rainstorm and an accident happened. Similarly, if the truck driver failed to ever notify the truck company that the windshield wiper blades were getting worn, the driver may be liable for the accident.
Although sudden mechanical problems do happen, in many cases, several warning signs were ignored. Requesting copies of maintenance records from truck companies, as well as studying the reports from repair shops that work on the truck after the accident, may reveal a history of mechanical issues.
Let our injury attorneys strengthen your claim
At Stein & Shulman, our attorneys have handled a variety of accident cases and have over four decades of combined experience in these claims. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options, call our attorneys at (312) 422-0500.