Driver errors are not the only cause for a truck accident. Equipment problems, stemming from inadequate truck maintenance can also be a potential cause for a crash.
Responsibility for this may be with the motor carrier or another entity such as a leasing company or a repair center. If it’s an independent truck driver, responsibility for the upkeep of the semi would be with him or her. In Long Island, personal injury attorneys can assist truck accident victims in evaluating liability of the driver, trucking company, or other parties.
Equipment Problems That May Contribute to a Truck Accident
Not every part that breaks down on a truck is a potential risk for a crash. But certain equipment malfunctions significantly increase the likelihood of an accident.
An example is tires. Low tire pressure and worn treads are some of the common issues that may contribute to a crash. Tire blowouts are another problem. These usually occur when the tires are under-inflated.
Regular maintenance is important. But besides just checking to be sure the tires aren’t going flat. It’s also critical that when tires are inflated, the size of the truck and the load being carried is taken into account.
There are regulations in place for when a truck cannot be driven concerning tires. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), trucks shouldn’t be in operation when belt material or body ply is exposed through the sidewall or tread, there is a leak, or there is sidewall or tread separation.
Additionally, there are rules pertaining to tread depth. The tread groove must be at least 4/32 of an inch.
Brake pads are another example of equipment that could cause a truck accident. These should be checked frequently. If they squeal or vibrate when pressed, it may be time to change them.
Brake failure could be the result of a defect but it can also occur because of negligence by the driver. Examples include an unevenly balanced load and depowering front brakes (can make slowing or stopping difficult).
Brakes should be regularly inspected for:
- loose components; and
- air leaks in the chamber.
Inadequate truck maintenance such as not checking for these problems or failing to correct them, it could cause a truck accident.
Other types of equipment problems stemming from inadequate maintenance that could contribute to a crash include:
- steering malfunction;
- burnt out lights; and
- incorrect attachment of trailer to cab.
In some of these cases, more than one party could potentially be held liable. Long Island personal injury attorneys could help in determining responsibility.
FMCSA Rules Pertaining to Maintenance of Large Trucks
The FMCSA has strict regulations when it comes to inspecting, repairing and maintaining trucks. At all times trucks must be in proper and safe operating condition, which includes accessories and parts.
In addition, the motor carrier is required to keep records that must include:
- identifying information (company number, make, serial number, year, tire size, name of person who owns truck if not owned by motor carrier);
- due date of maintenance and inspection operations; and
- record of all inspections, repairs and maintenance (nature of each and date).
These records are required to be kept for a year at the location the vehicle is kept. If the truck is no longer under the control of a motor carrier or independent owner, the records must still be kept for at least six months.
When unsafe conditions are found with equipment, it must be recorded. If everything appears to be fine, this should also be noted.
Driver Liability and Pursuing a Truck Accident Claim
Where driver liability may come in is that the FMCSA requires that the last inspection on the vehicle is reviewed before taking to the road. So if a driver knowingly gets behind the wheel of a truck where repairs were necessary but not made, this could make him or her responsible. Of course, liability could also include the motor carrier and others responsible for the inadequate truck maintenance.
Most victims won’t automatically know to consider the possibility that inadequate maintenance could have caused or contributed to a crash. Talking with Long Island personal injury attorneys at Gacovino, Lake & Associates might help in learning options that are available in a truck accident claim.