Truck accidents send thousands of victims to emergency rooms in Texas with serious and sometimes fatal injuries each year. Many of these accidents are traced back to poor truck maintenance and mechanical failures, including brake failure. If you get injured in an accident involving an 18-wheeler in San Antonio, contact the San Antonio truck accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Maloney & Campolo to discuss your legal options.

Brake Failure Is the Number One Truck-Related Crash Factor

According to a report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – the federal authority in charge of enforcing commercial trucking safety regulations – almost 30 percent of fatal and injury crashes that involve large trucks are due to truck brake problems. This is the most common truck-associated crash factor. Brake problems can refer to part or component issues, brake defects, brakes that are out of adjustment, brake pads that need to be replaced, and total brake failure.

Commercial trucks rely on their brakes to bring the large and heavy vehicles to a stop in the proper amount of time to avoid collisions. In general, 18-wheelers use air brake systems, which are viewed as the preferred design for larger vehicles. These brakes use compressed air instead of hydraulic brake fluid. Proper brake installation, use and maintenance are critical for the safe and correct operation of a big rig’s brakes. Even a minor issue with the brakes could lead to a devastating truck accident.

Why Do Brakes Fail On 18-Wheelers?

Brake failure for a large truck can be catastrophic. A truck driver who cannot stop an 18-wheeler may lose control of the vehicle and careen off the road, resulting in a fixed-object collision or truck rollover accident. Runaway trucks may also crash into other vehicles, causing severe rear-end collisions, override accidents, multi-vehicle collisions, chain reaction accidents and highway pileups.

Large truck brake failures can be traced back to many causes, including:

  • Poor truck maintenance. The brakes are considered a critical area of an 18-wheeler, meaning they are subject to thorough federal inspection requirements. A lack of inspections, maintenance or repairs by a trucking company could lead to brakes that are in a state of disrepair or need to be replaced.
  • Overuse of brakes by the driver. Hydraulic brakes work using a compressor that places air pressure on the brakes to stop the vehicle. If a truck driver overuses the brakes, the air can be drained from the compressor faster than it is replenished. This can lead to total brake failure and a runaway truck – an especially common risk when traveling downhill.
  • Truck part defects. Some truck brake failures are due to defective or dangerous brake components. Defective brakes have manufacturing, design or production defects that make them unreasonably unsafe for consumer use. Defective brakes may experience malfunctions or breakdowns in transit due to faulty parts.

An overloaded truck could also experience brake failure due to too much weight putting pressure on the brake system. A driver may not be able to stop a truck that has been overloaded beyond its capacity.

Who Is Responsible for a Truck Accident Caused By Brake Failure?

Texas is a fault state. This means that after a truck or automobile accident, the person or party most at fault for causing the crash will be responsible for paying for victims’ medical bills and property damage. After a truck accident that is caused by brake failure, an investigation will be done to determine why the brakes failed.

With this information, one or more parties can be held responsible, such as the trucking company, truck owner/operator, maintenance crew, cargo company or brake manufacturer. Determining the cause of an 18-wheeler’s brake failure is something that an attorney can help you with as an injured truck accident victim in Texas. For more information about liability for a brake-failure truck accident, contact us for a free consultation.