Who’s at Fault When Brake Failure Causes a Truck Accident?

brake failure semi truck accident

Mechanical failures are common occurrences in large commercial trucks, more common than you might think.

Semi-trucks take on a lot of stress from carrying heavy cargo, running for long hours, and driving up and down steep grades. And one of the systems in these vehicles that often takes the most amount of stress is the brake system.

A car brake failure might not be that big of a deal since smaller passenger vehicles do not weigh as much. But when a brake system failure occurs in large commercial trucks, the resulting damage can be catastrophic.

Semi-trucks weigh thousands of pounds — up to 80,000 lbs, in fact. And that weight, combined with the size of these vehicles, means that when the brakes fail, the results can be devastating and deadly.

But who is at fault when brake failure occurs in a commercial truck?

If a truck driver was driving recklessly, then it makes sense that they would be responsible for any accidents that they may have caused. But when the brakes fail, this is not necessarily something that a truck driver could have prevented.

To determine fault in truck brake failure accidents, many pieces of information must be taken into consideration — which means these cases are often more complex and can take time to be resolved.

If you were involved in a truck accident caused by brake failure, our Indianapolis Semi-Truck Accident Lawyers can help. We understand the challenge of handling these types of cases and know what it takes to help our clients win the settlements they deserve.

Common Causes of Brake Failure Accidents Involving Large Commercial Trucks

Semi-trucks are designed and built using intricate, advanced braking systems. Specifically, these trucks rely on a type of air-powered pressure system that allows multiple braking units to be linked and controlled by the driver from the cab.

However, despite the advanced braking system, pressure on the brakes causes friction and heat that wears down the materials over time. This is why regular maintenance and brake checks are crucial when it comes to keeping commercial trucks running properly.

Some of the most common causes of brake failure in trucks include:

  • Inconsistent or poor brake maintenance
  • Defective brake systems
  • Improperly installed brake systems
  • Brake imbalances
  • Overloading the trailer
  • Brakes overheating on long downhills

What Are Truck Brake Failure Indicators That Drivers Should Look Out For?

The owner of the truck or the trucking company is ultimately the one responsible for ensuring the truck undergoes regular inspections. However, truck drivers themselves can help prevent brake failure accidents by keeping an eye out for warning signs or indicators that could point to an impending brake failure.

Common brake failure indicators include:

  • Squealing or squeaking brakes
  • The brake warning light turning on
  • Vibrations in the brake pedals
  • Grinding noises when using the brakes
  • Slow stopping responses
  • A soft or “spongy” feel to the brake pedal
  • Leaking brake fluid

Who is At Fault for Truck Brake Failure Accidents?

When you are injured in an accident involving a semi-truck, you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault party to recover compensation for the damages you have suffered. However, to do this, you will need to be able to obtain evidence to prove that another party was at fault.

With truck accidents, knowing what kind of evidence you need often begins with knowing what parties could potentially be held liable for the accident. And as mentioned above, the truck driver is not necessarily the one you should automatically blame, as the brake failure might not have been their fault.

So, who can be held liable for brake system failures in truck accidents?

  • The Truck Company: The company that owns the truck and hired the truck driver is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the brakes are checked and maintained regularly. So if the accident was the result of a lack of maintenance, then the truck company could be held liable.
  • The Truck Owner: If the truck is owned by an owner/operator as opposed to a company, then it is the owner that can be held liable for brake issues resulting from a lack of maintenance.
  • The Shipper or Loading Company: If there was a loading error, such as loading the trailer beyond its weight capacity, then the shipping or loading company could be held liable for the brake failure.
  • The Truck Mechanic: If a mechanic or repair shop made a mistake when repairing the brakes, they could be the ones held responsible for the brake failure.
  • The Brake Manufacturer: If there was a brake defect that caused the accident, then the fault could be traced back to the manufacturer that designed and installed the brake system.

A semi-truck accident lawyer can help you investigate the accident to determine which party was responsible for the brake failure. Beyond that, your lawyer can also help you gather additional evidence to build a strong case and prove the extent of your injuries and suffering to ensure you are adequately compensated.

Consult With an Indianapolis Semi-Truck Accident Attorney

If you were injured in a brake failure semi-truck accident, the team at Poynter & Bucheri can help. We know what it takes to obtain evidence to ensure the right party is held accountable and to help you win the high-value settlement you deserve.

Don’t hesitate — an experienced Indiana semi-truck accident attorney can assist you right away. Call 1-800-265-9881 for a free case review.