When a large commercial truck and passenger vehicle collide, most people assume the accident was caused by driver error—whether on the part of the commercial driver or motorist.
However, while tractor-trailer accidents due to driver error are common, trucks also crash as a result of defective components more often than people realize.
In fact, vehicle failure is identified as a contributing factor in nearly 30 percent of all truck accidents and approximately 33 percent of collisions involving both commercial and passenger vehicles, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) groundbreaking Large Truck Crash Causation Study.
If you or someone you love was injured in a truck accident caused by a defective component, an experienced truck accident lawyer can investigate your case and help you explore your legal options.
Common Truck Defects
Degraded braking capability and brake or tire failure are the defects that cause the most truck accidents, according to the FMCSA's Large Truck Crash Causation Study. Other mechanical or equipment defects that can cause or contribute to serious truck crashes include:
- Wheel defects
- Steering column failure
- Engine failure
- Defective transmission
- Faulty lighting
- Defective trailer attachment systems
- Suspension failure
- Body, door, or hood failure
Defective Truck Components: Who's Responsible After an Accident?
Liability can be a complex issue in truck accident cases, particularly those in which a defective component is alleged to have caused the crash. Identifying the responsible party can be a challenge for many would-be plaintiffs, as fault depends largely on the circumstances of the defect and subsequent accident.
Many accidents caused by defective components can be divided into the following categories:
- Defective by design: Some components may have a flaw in their designs that prevents them from performing the intended function, regardless of the quality of manufacturing or the maintenance performed. If a design defect in a truck component results in an accident, the company that designed the component could potentially be liable.
- Defective by manufacturer: Other components may have been manufactured incorrectly, preventing them from working as designed. If a manufacturing error causes component to fail, resulting in an accident, the manufacturer could possibly be liable for damages.
- Defective due to poor maintenance: Sometimes a component may fail or develop a defect if not maintained properly. The FMSCA requires commercial drivers and trucking companies to perform regular maintenance on their vehicles to make sure they're safe and in good working order. If a truck driver or trucking company fails to perform mandated vehicle inspections or repair issues as they're discovered, they could be held liable if an accident occurs due to the failure of a poorly-maintained component. However, if the company contracts truck maintenance to a third-party garage whose employees leave components in a defective state, the garage might be considered responsible for damages incurred in a related accident.
Victims who were seriously injured in truck accidents can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages sustained as a result of the crash. Common economic damages sought in truck accident cases include:
- Property damage
- Past and future medical costs related to injuries sustained in the accident
- Lost wages for the time the injuries kept the victim out of work
- Loss of earning potential if the injuries will prevent the victim from working permanently
Truck accident victims may also pursue a monetary award for non-economic damages, such as:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Permanent disability
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Do You Need Help Pursing a Truck Accident Case?
Proving a truck accident was caused by a defective or failed commercial truck component often requires a thorough examination of the vehicle's systems and analysis of the information from its event data record, or black box.
Pursuing a truck accident personal injury case can seem intimidating, but Randy Sevenish of Sevenish Law can walk you through every step of the civil litigation process. Contact Sevenish Law's Indianapolis law office to schedule a free initial case consultation.