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Sacramento Defective Brake Tractor-Trailer Injury Lawyer

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Sacramento Defective Brake Tractor-Trailer Injury Lawyer


Mechanical problems that include brake failure constitute one of the common causes of tractor-trailer collisions.  Under the best of circumstances, large commercial trucks pose a serious risk of devastating injuries and fatalities because these massive vehicles can weigh up to forty tons when fully loaded.  

If the prospect of a huge fully loaded 18-wheeler barreling down the I-5 or the Capital City Freeway (I-80 Business Loop) at sixty miles per hour sounds frightening, the prospect of a collision generated by such a vehicle which cannot be slowed or stopped by the driver should seem terrifying. 

Common Causes of Trucking Accidents

While driver error is the most common cause of semi-truck collisions, mechanical failure still accounts for approximately twelve percent of trucking accidents according to federal data.  

According to a study conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOT), brake malfunctions and failures are an especially common cause of big-rig crashes.  While federal and state regulations impose a duty on trucking companies and their drivers to conduct inspections and maintenance on large trucks, nearly one in three tractor-trailer collisions involve improper brake adjustment, brake failure, or other brake-related problems as a contributing factor.

About Our Personal Injury Law Firm

At AutoAccident.com, our law firm has been representing victims of trucking accidents in California since 1982. Our firm’s founder, Ed Smith has extensive familiarity with the federal and state regulations that impose duties on trucking companies to conduct brake inspections and to maintain the brakes of large trucks in safe operating conditions.  

Our law firm is committed to providing exemplary legal representation in the pursuit of maximum recovery for our clients.  This commitment is evident by our past client reviews on Yahoo, Google, AVVO, and Yelp, so we invite you to visit these sites to get an independent evaluation of the client experience provided by our law firm.  

Although we offer the personal contact and attention typically associated with a small law firm, we offer the resources, tenacity, and sophisticated representation of much larger law firms.

Causes of Faulty Brake Failure and Malfunctions

There is a range of parties that can be financially responsible for a crash caused by a faulty operation of the brake system on a tractor-trailer.  The driver of the tractor-trailer and the trucking company will usually be parties in such accidents.  However, the truck manufacturer and maker of defective parts or components also can be liable to the extent defects in the design and/or manufacture of brake components, or inadequate warnings regarding potential brake problems contribute to a crash.  

Many commercial carriers have independent service providers that perform fleet maintenance.  When shoddy brake maintenance plays a significant role in causing a trucking accident, the company that performed the work can be liable for the damages experienced by crash victims.  Some of the most common issues that cause brakes to a malfunction or fail include the following:

Defective Brake Parts & Components: Any party in the production, distribution, or retail chain can be liable when defective components contribute to a trucking accident. 

Shifting or Unbalanced Cargo: Many parties can be liable for an excessively heavy load, unbalanced load, or insufficiently secured load, such as the trucking company, a shipper that loaded the cargo, and truck driver.  When the load is excessive or improperly balance, the wear on the brakes is magnified which increases the risk of brake failure.

Failure to Conduct Pre-Trip Inspections: Commercial carriers and their drivers are required to conduct pre-trip safety inspections and to record the results.  When these inspections are ignored to save time, the consequence can be a fatal trucking accident.  Examples of what the brake inspection must cover include the following:

  • Listening for potential air leaks in the brake chamber
  • Inspecting the brake shoes to uncover any broken or missing mechanical components
  • Examining the brakes to identify any loose brake components

Overheating Brakes: When brakes overheat, they might not function appropriately in an emergency.  Brakes can overheat for a variety of reasons, including transportation of an oversized load or poor route selection that entails navigating steep grades.

Worn Tires or Improper Brake Pressure: The brake system on big-rigs works in conjunction with the wheels so improper tire pressure or worn tires can compromise the effectiveness of the brakes. 

Improper Brake Adjustment: If the air brakes are not adjusted properly, a range of problems can occur.  Improper adjustment can result in a drag on the brakes, which can cause the brakes to overheat.  Automatic brakes also can be manually adjusted too often rendering the mechanism incapable of maintaining proper adjustment.  When the brakes are not adjusted properly, they might not provide sufficient braking power when necessary.

Brief Note about Personal Vehicles

Although this page focuses on product defects and maintenance issues involving commercial trucks, owners of personal vehicles also have a duty to keep their vehicles in safe operating conditions.  Just like with a large truck that experiences a brake malfunction resulting in a crash, the driver and/or owner of a personal vehicle can be liable for neglecting maintenance related to brake fluid, brake pads, rotors, and other brake maintenance issues.  

Similarly, the shop that bungles a repair job that contributes to the brakes failing can also be liable to those injured in a crash.  Finally, companies that design, manufacture, distribute, or retail defective brake parts, components, and/or systems can be liable for collisions caused by malfunctioning brakes.

Contact a Sacramento Brake Failure Accident Injury Lawyer for Help

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer.  If you or a family member have been injured in a crash involving a tractor-trailer, please call us today at 916.921.6400 for free, friendly advice. 

We are members of the National Association of Distinguished Counsel and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

See our client reviews on GoogleYelp, and Avvo and our past verdicts and settlements.

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 3.23.21]

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels