Due to the weight and size of commercial trucks, their drivers need more time and space to come to a complete stop than drivers of passenger cars do. A tractor-trailer, for example, needs hundreds more feet to stop than the average passenger car needs. When their braking ability is impaired, a trucker may not be able to stop, and the result may be a collision that produces serious injuries. If you are hurt as a result of a trucker’s impaired braking ability, you should retain an attorney who has significant experience in these cases. At Black & DePaoli, our California truck accident attorneys can help you seek damages from a truck driver as well as any other parties that may be responsible for your injuries.
Holding a Trucker Accountable for a Crash Caused by Impaired Braking Ability
Braking ability is critical to truck driving. Federal and state laws require drivers and truck companies to make sure that a truck’s brakes are working. Safety precautions that they must take include performing routine brake inspections, making sure that cargo is appropriately distributed among the axles to avoid putting too much pressure on the brakes, and providing adequate driver training. Under Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, interstate drivers need to inspect their brakes every day and specify any problems that they find in a daily log book. The problem is supposed to be fixed before the vehicle goes back on the road.
If a truck driver was unable to stop in time to avoid hitting you, you may have a claim against him and the trucking company that employs him. Generally, you will need to prove negligence, but sometimes negligence per se may apply. An experienced truck driver who is unable to stop the truck because he is distracted or drunk is likely to be found negligent. Meanwhile, if a truck driver is not properly trained to brake in time or is not competent to drive, their employer may be liable.
An employer may be held vicariously liable if its employee negligently hurts someone in the course and scope of employment. This means that a trucking company may be held liable as long as the truck driver failed to brake in time while driving on behalf of the employer.
A trucking company may be held liable for its own negligence as well. For example, if a trucking company hires a driver with a spotty driving record or allows a driver to continue driving after they are seen to be incompetent, and then the driver fails to brake in time, the trucking company may be liable under theories of negligent hiring or negligent supervision.
After an accident, the driver may claim that the brakes went out without warning. This is rare because big rigs and tractor-trailers have air brakes that include several safety features to keep the system from failing utterly and without warning. Trucks often have a separate emergency braking system. Maintenance failures are more likely the problem than a defective brake. However, sometimes there actually is a problem with the brakes, and this is the reason for the accident. If the brakes were defective in terms of their manufacturing or design, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries by bringing a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.
Consult a Truck Accident Lawyer in the California Area
Not all lawyers are equally well equipped to handle truck accident lawsuits. It is crucial to consult a California truck accident attorney who is familiar with these particular types of cases and the issues that may arise. Truck accident cases typically involve insurers that are eager to avoid liability, and they may involve drivers or trucking companies that engage in practices that violate the FMCSA regulations. For a free consultation with a motor vehicle collision attorney in the California or Folsom areas, call Black & DePaoli at 916-962-2896 or contact us online.