Many people assume that all truck accidents occur because of driver error. While it is true that driver error causes the vast majority of trucking accidents, mechanical failure is also a common contributing factor.
Trucks are massive machines that require frequent inspections and regular maintenance to keep their components and equipment in good condition. Failure to maintain a truck or its equipment in good working condition can result in devastating consequences and catastrophic injuries. Some accidents caused by the truck’s mechanical or equipment failure may lead to deaths.
However, it is not always easy to determine what caused the truck accident, so victims may not know that the crash was from mechanical failures. For this reason, an in-depth investigation by an experienced truck accident lawyer may be necessary to determine the cause of the truck accident and identify liable parties.
How Common Are Truck Accidents Caused by Mechanical Failures?
While government data does not estimate the number of truck accidents caused by mechanical failures, accidents resulting from mechanical errors are more common than people think. According to Canadian government data, there were over 140,000 truck accidents resulting in injuries in one recent year.
Many of these accidents were due to mechanical failure and defective trucks or vehicle parts. Improper maintenance of vehicles is a common cause of truck accidents involving mechanical failure. That is why Canada has strict laws requiring truck drivers and trucking companies to keep trucks in good working condition.
Failure to comply with the regulations increases the risk of truck accidents caused by blown tires, braking system problems, steering or transmission failure, and light issues.
Mechanical Failures and Truck Inspection & Maintenance
Canada laws require regular inspections for all commercial vehicles in the country. The regulations governing the inspection and maintenance of trucks aim to minimize the risk of mechanical failures and prevent trucking accidents.
Trucks in Canada must go through:
- Annual inspections (every 12 months)
- Semi-annual inspections (every six months)
- Safety standard certifications
However, these are the minimum requirements set forth by Canadian law. The owner of the truck and/or trucking company may conduct additional inspections to ensure proper maintenance of the vehicle
To ensure compliance with safety standards under the law, a licenced mechanic must inspect a truck’s:
- Power train
- Suspension hydraulic brake system
- Lamps and lights
- Electrical system
- Tires and wheels
If a vehicle fails the mandatory inspection, the owner of the truck or trucking company will be required to make the necessary repairs to meet safety standards. Once the repairs occur, the owner or trucking company can have the vehicle re-inspected. There is an option for a free re-inspection if the repairs happen within ten days of the initial inspection.
In Alberta, the Ministry of Transportation monitors the condition of commercial vehicles that operate in the province. Police officers and ministry enforcement staff in Alberta inspect commercial vehicles, but this enforcement does not always keep defective or poorly maintained trucks off the road. Unfortunately, some of these vehicles malfunction and lead to crashes and injuries.
Common Types of Truck Mechanical Failures
Equipment failure in a truck increases the risk of an accident. Some of the most common types of mechanical failure in trucks include:
There are strict requirements for brake systems because there is nothing more terrifying and devastating than a truck that experienced a brake failure. Improper braking at the time of the accident does not always indicate mechanical problems with the braking system. If the driver failed to apply the brakes before the collision, it might be because of the lack of competence, fatigued driving, or other types of driver error.
A large percentage of truck accidents caused by mechanical failure involve tire problems. Blown tires are a common cause and contributing factor to trucking accidents. Improper tire pressure, truck overloading, worn-out tires, or unsafe road conditions may cause accidents. Problems with the tires may cause the truck driver to lose control of the vehicle.
Problems with the steering system are some of the most dangerous mechanical failures that can result in devastating accidents. Mechanics must ensure that the truck’s steering is in good working condition. When the truck’s steering experiences problems, the driver may not control the truck’s movement properly, increasing the risk of truck accidents.
If the engine malfunctions while the truck is in motion, the truck driver may lose the ability to operate the vehicle safely. When the driver cannot safely maneuver the truck, accidents are bound to happen.
The truck’s transmission system consists of several components prone to wear and tear. When the system is improperly maintained, the trucker may hear grinding noise when shifting. Problems with the transmission can result in serious accidents, so periodic inspections of trucks and their equipment are necessary to identify any problems early on.
Most truck drivers prefer to drive at night because of lighter traffic. That is why reflective tapes and lights that work properly are critical to prevent accidents. When there are any issues with the lights or reflective tape, there is an increased risk of truck accidents. In Canada, Section 108 of the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations governs lighting equipment requirements.
A trailer is attached to its towing vehicle with the help of hitches. If the truck experiences a hitch malfunction, it can cause the truck to lose its trailer or result in a jackknife accident, especially if the vehicle performs a sudden maneuver and/or is traveling at a high rate of speed.
Who Is Responsible for Truck Mechanical Failure Accidents?
When a truck accident occurs due to an equipment failure or improper maintenance, several parties can be responsible for causing the accident.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, potentially liable parties include:
- The trucking companies. Canadian law requires trucking companies to regularly inspect and maintain their trucks to ensure that their vehicles are in good working condition. When performing inspections, repairs, and maintenance, trucking companies must keep records. If a mechanical failure accident was due to negligent inspection or improper maintenance, the trucking company can be responsible for the resulting damages and losses.
- The truck driver. Truck drivers must properly secure their cargo. Truck drivers must report any mechanical failures and stop operating the vehicle when they discover any issues that may affect the safe operation of the truck. Ignoring a mechanical issue to complete the trip may make the driver liable for resulting accidents.
- The auto mechanic. If the auto mechanic who inspected the truck failed to notice mechanical issues in the truck that resulted in an accident, you can hold the mechanic or repair shop responsible for the resulting injuries.
- The manufacturer of the truck or its equipment. If a defect caused by the manufacturer’s negligence resulted in an accident, the injured party can pursue a claim against the manufacturer of the defective truck or its equipment. You can hold manufacturers liable for accidents resulting from design and manufacturing defects and the failure to warn of safety issues.
In some cases, there may be multiple liable parties. A comprehensive investigation conducted by an experienced accident lawyer can reveal all of the parties responsible for a truck accident caused by mechanical failures.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Truck Mechanical Failures
How do truck accident lawyers determine that mechanical failures caused the accident?
Often, the mechanical failure of the truck’s equipment may not be apparent immediately after the truck accident. In these cases, the only way to determine that the accident happened because of a mechanical failure is to conduct a thorough investigation.
When investigating the accident, an experienced accident lawyer will analyze the underlying issues to determine what led to the accident. For this reason, a lawyer may request inspection and maintenance records from the trucking company and may seek the assistance of accident reconstruction experts and other expert witnesses to prove that a mechanical failure resulted in the crash.
What evidence should you preserve to prove a mechanical failure in a truck accident?
Collecting and preserving evidence is a critical step to take after any truck accident, especially if you suspect that the collision resulted from mechanical failure. Certain evidence can prove that the truck was not inspected or maintained properly. Failure to gather and preserve evidence as soon as possible after the accident can result in the disappearance or destruction of critical pieces of evidence.
Following a truck accident, one of the first steps the injured party’s lawyer will usually take is to request access to the truck’s black box, a data recording and storage device that can reveal a lot of information about the accident and the condition of the truck at the time of the collision.
In addition to preserving black box data, it is also vital to gain access to and preserve:
- Truck maintenance records
- Inspection records
- Documentation related to repairs
If the injured party fails to preserve the above-mentioned evidence in time, it can disappear with time. In fact, some trucking companies may even destroy or tamper with black box data and other types of evidence to avoid liability.
What are the most common injuries in truck mechanical failure accidents?
Truck accidents are some of the most devastating accidents you can think of. That is why collisions with trucks often involve catastrophic and life-threatening injuries, and some lead to deaths. Often, mechanical failure accidents may cause the truck to catch fire or involve multiple vehicles, resulting in severe injuries.
Some of the most common injuries associated with truck accidents caused by mechanical failures include:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Burn injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Loss of a limb
In truck accidents, occupants of other vehicles are more prone to severe injuries and deaths than truck drivers, and occupants of smaller vehicles accounted for over 70 percent of all fatalities in collisions with trucks in a single year.
What damages can you recover after a trucking accident?
With an experienced accident lawyer on your side, you can fight for fair compensation for your injuries and losses suffered in a truck accident caused by mechanical failures. The damages available to the victim depend on the circumstances of the accident.
However, common types of recoverable damages in truck accidents include:
- The loss of income and earning capacity
- Pain and suffering and other emotional and psychological injuries
- Reimbursement for the cost of repairs to the damaged vehicle and other property
- Homemaker benefits to compensate the victim for the household chores and services that they cannot do
- Damages for the wrongful death of a family member, including burial and funeral expenses, loss of support, loss of guidance, and other losses
How can a truck accident lawyer help with your claim?
If you are pursuing a legal claim after a truck accident caused by equipment failure or mechanical malfunction, you might want to consider contacting a knowledgeable injury lawyer. As an injury victim, you may have a hard time handling the legal aspects of your claim and fighting to secure fair compensation.
A knowledgeable accident lawyer can help you:
- Navigate the claims process
- Explain your legal options
- Gather and preserve all available pieces of evidence
- Conduct a thorough investigation proving that the accident resulted from mechanical failure
- Hold all at-fault parties responsible for the accident
A truck accident can leave the victim disoriented and confused. That is why they can benefit from legal counsel while they devote their time and energy to recovering from their injuries.
Contact a the experienced truck accident attorneys at MNH Injury Lawyers to get the legal help you and your family deserve.