Most truck accidents occur because of driver error, including but not limited to distracted driving, failure to maintain a safe distance, and driving while fatigued. Some accidents, however, occur because of inadequate maintenance or vehicle defects.
Improper truck maintenance may cause the driver to lose control of the truck and make it impossible to operate the vehicle safely. Trucks spend a lot of time hauling heavy cargo from one city or state to another. The high mileage combined with the need to transport heavy loads makes truck maintenance critical.
Federal and state regulations should keep trucks properly and regularly inspected and maintained. Unfortunately, truck drivers and trucking companies may put off performing an inspection or making repairs to save time and money. However, inadequate maintenance of the truck can lead to a preventable crash caused by a malfunction or mechanical failure.
Table of Contents
- What Are the Federal Regulations for Truck Maintenance?
- Truck Equipment That Requires Proper Maintenance
- Common Maintenance Issues That Cause Truck Accidents
- Common Causes of Truck Maintenance Accidents
- How to Determine if the Truck Accident Happened Due to Improper Maintenance?
- Who Is Responsible for the Truck’s Maintenance?
- How Can a Chicago Truck Maintenance Accident Lawyer Help?
- Client Testimonial
What Are the Federal Regulations for Truck Maintenance?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates truck maintenance. The purpose of federal regulations is to ensure that all trucks on U.S. roads are adequately inspected and properly maintained to reduce the risk of truck maintenance accidents.
Some of the FMCSA regulations related to the inspection and maintenance of trucks include:
- Perform regular inspection of all vehicles
- Identify issues with the truck and make the necessary repairs quickly
- Keep accurate inspection and maintenance records
Truck drivers also must monitor the condition of their vehicles mid-trip.
Some federal requirements for truck drivers include:
- Perform pre-trip inspections to ensure that there are no mechanical issues or defects
- Checking cargo securement within the first 50 miles after loading and then every three hours
- Preparing an inspection report at the end of the shift
The goal of pre-, mid-, and post-trip inspections is to make trucks safe. If the inspection reveals any mechanical issues that need repair, the mechanic must make it safe to drive.
Federal law also requires trucking companies to keep records of all inspections, maintenance, and repairs. If you were in a truck accident and suspect that the crash might have happened because of a mechanical failure, a Chicago truck accident lawyer can inspect the trucking company’s records to identify potential issues or violations of FMCSA regulations.
Truck Equipment That Requires Proper Maintenance
Certain types of truck equipment are more prone to mechanical failures and require extra attention when inspecting the vehicle.
Equipment on a truck that requires regular inspection and repair includes:
- Steering system
- Windshield wipers
- Side-view mirrors
- Electrical system
If a Chicago truck maintenance accident lawyer can prove that improper maintenance caused the accident, you can hold the trucking company responsible for the crash and resulting injuries.
Common Maintenance Issues That Cause Truck Accidents
The following are some common maintenance issues that can cause accidents.
#1. Tire Blowouts
Tire blowouts, though quite common with large trucks, can be prevented. A tire blowout when traveling at high speeds can be deadly. When a tire blows out, it can cause the driver to lose control. The truck can flip and may collide with other vehicles on the road. This danger is heightened with large trucks because their large size can cause a substantial collision with other smaller vehicles.
Given the truck’s larger weights, heaving driving schedules, and numerous wheels, they are more susceptible to tire blowouts. Drivers need to keep tires properly inflated at all times by frequently checking pressure levels. They must change tires when they become too old or damaged. Vigilant checks for tire damage will also help prevent accidents.
#2. Broken Lights
Headlights, taillights, and turn signals often burn out with no warning. Ensuring that these lights are maintained is important for everyone’s safety.
Without working headlights, other vehicles may not see an oncoming truck. If a truck’s brake lights don't work, vehicles behind the truck cannot tell when the truck is braking, which can lead to accidents. Turn signals put other vehicles on notice of a truck’s intent to change lanes or turn. Without this warning, other vehicles may not give the truck enough space to properly make maneuvers, causing accidents.
#3. Faulty Brakes
Brakes are one of the most important features of a vehicle. Without brakes, an accident is inevitable as a vehicle that cannot stop will rear-end other vehicles or pass through intersections when it is unsafe to do so. When a driver fails to maintain them, brakes may not work properly or fail. Eventually, worn-out brakes will be irreparably damaged and require a replacement.
#4. Steering Problems
Many trucks experience steering problems mid-trip, endangering the trucker and others on the road. However, in most cases, proper inspection and adequate maintenance will prevent steering issues.
Common Causes of Truck Maintenance Accidents
As mentioned earlier, federal laws require routine inspections and maintenance to prevent truck accidents. If a truck or its part experiences a malfunction because of inadequate maintenance, there is an increased risk of a truck accident.
Unfortunately, not all truck drivers and trucking companies comply with the maintenance regulations. Their negligence and carelessness put other people at risk.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents caused by maintenance issues include:
- Truck drivers skip pre-trip inspections. While federal law requires pre-trip inspections, many drivers skip inspecting their trucking before embarking on the road because they think the inspection is a waste of time and everything in the vehicle is in good condition. Drivers must also inspect the vehicle and prepare an inspection report at the end of each shift.
- Truck drivers or trucking companies ignore mechanical failures. Sometimes, a truck driver or trucking company may ignore known issues or defects in the vehicle. They think that the problem is not significant enough and repairs can wait. In most cases, truckers and trucking companies ignore issues in the truck to save money and time.
- Maintenance crews fail to do a good job. Sometimes, maintenance crews cause truck accidents when they fail to make the necessary repairs or make mistakes when attempting to fix mechanical failures. If maintenance is performed improperly, a truck may endanger the truck driver and other drivers sharing the road with the truck.
- Truck drivers are improperly trained to perform inspections. The U.S. trucking industry experiences a shortage of truck drivers. According to the American Trucking Association, the truck driver shortage in the United States could surpass 160,000 in 2030. Often, trucking companies end up hiring unqualified truck drivers or skip the necessary training, including training related to truck inspections, to hire as many drivers as possible.
- Failure to inspect and fix faulty brakes. Problems with the brakes account for a large percentage of truck accidents caused by mechanical failures. Drivers and trucking companies often fail to properly inspect the brakes, which may lead to preventable accidents.
- Failure to inspect and replace bad tires. Due to high mileage and heavy loads, the truck’s tires are prone to misalignment, improper inflation, imbalances, and becoming worn-out. Truck drivers and trucking companies can prevent most truck accidents caused by bad tires through proper inspection and maintenance.
- Failure to inspect lights and reflective strips. Many truckers drive at night because there is less traffic, which is why trucks need reflective strips and working lights. When lights or reflective strips are faulty, truck accidents are more likely to happen at night.
- Overloaded trucks or improperly balanced loads. Federal law imposes weight restrictions for carrying loads on a truck. If the truck is overloaded, it increases the risk of an accident. Loading companies must ensure that the cargo does not exceed the limits imposed by federal law. The weight of the load should also have proper distribution in the trailer to prevent accidents caused by improperly balanced loads. When people do not load a truck properly, it becomes more difficult to maneuver the vehicle.
Speak with a Chicago truck accident lawyer to discuss your accident and determine what caused the crash.
How to Determine if the Truck Accident Happened Due to Improper Maintenance?
If you suspect improper maintenance caused your truck accident but have no evidence to prove it, you might want to hire an experienced lawyer to review our specific case. Your lawyer will launch a comprehensive investigation and gather the necessary evidence, including inspection and maintenance records, to determine if the failure to inspect and maintain the truck in compliance with federal regulations caused the accident.
A Chicago truck maintenance accident lawyer will help you obtain access to these records and gather other pieces of evidence to build a strong legal case. If there are maintenance issues, your lawyer will identify liable parties and help you explore your options for compensation.
Trucking companies usually hire the best lawyers to defend them against liability claims. That is why you may need an experienced attorney on your side to represent your interests and help you negotiate a fair settlement when dealing with the insurance company.
Who Is Responsible for the Truck’s Maintenance?
It is the responsibility of a truck owner to maintain the vehicle’s safety. This means the truck must comply with safety regulations and drivers must operate it in a way that does not endanger others. Failure to keep up with a vehicle’s maintenance may result in the owner being liable for injuries if an accident occurs.
If a truck belongs to a large company, the company must maintain the truck in proper working order. Failing to do so may lead to the company’s liability following a collision if injuries occur to a victim because of maintenance issues.
Some truck maintenance accidents occur because of mechanic, repair company, or truck maintenance company negligence. You can hold the mechanic, repair company, or maintenance company liable for an accident after a mistake performing routine maintenance or making the necessary repairs.
Any truck accident case can be complicated for several reasons. First of all, accidents involving multiple trucks usually involve multiple potentially liable parties. Second of all, gathering evidence and proving fault for a truck accident caused by improper maintenance can be challenging.
For this reason, you might want to consider hiring a Chicago truck maintenance accident lawyer to help you gather the necessary evidence and handle the legal aspects of your claim to secure fair compensation on your behalf.
How Can a Chicago Truck Maintenance Accident Lawyer Help?
Proving that a truck was improperly maintained can be difficult. However, an experienced truck accident lawyer may help you seek the compensation you may deserve.
Your lawyer will investigate the circumstances of the crash, gain access to the inspection and maintenance reports, examine your damages and losses, and evaluate how much your claim is worth.
A Chicago truck maintenance accident lawyer can help you understand your options for compensation and assist you throughout your legal case.
Some of the damages you may recover in your truck accident case include:
- Past and future medical expenses, including the cost of rehabilitation and physical therapy
- The cost of vehicle repairs and other types of property damage
- Loss of income
- Diminished earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
Each case is unique, which is why your recoverable damages depend on your specific case. Consult a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer to determine what damages you can recover.