While most truck accidents happen because of careless driving or the trucking company’s negligence, sometimes a mechanical failure is to blame.
In fact, negligence by the trucking company or its drivers can itself lead to a dangerous mechanical failure.
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in Ohio — whether the cause was mechanical or not — the Columbus truck accident lawyers at Colombo Law want to help.
If a truck is in the shop and not hauling cargo, the trucking companies are not making money. Unfortunately, this leads to many trucking companies sending dangerous trucks out on the roadway, putting the public in danger.
What kinds of mechanical failures can cause truck accidents? We look at some of the most common causes below.
Commercial trucks need more time to stop than other vehicles, and their brakes require more frequent maintenance.
Trucking companies and truck drivers have a duty to ensure that their brakes stay in working condition at all times. Likewise, truckers must take care to drive in a way that avoids brake failure, especially when going down steep or prolonged slopes.
Brake failure may stem from problems with:
- Worn brake discs
- Thinning brake pads
- Faulty brake lines
- Depleted or leaking brake fluids
- Antilock brake system (ABS) malfunction
- Improper or infrequent inspection
A large truck’s transmission is designed to carry a lot of weight… but too much weight can cause the transmission to fail.
Improper or overloaded cargo is the #1 cause of transmission failure in semi-trucks.
Transmission inspection is part of routine truck maintenance, which is why regular maintenance is so important. But even if the transmission passes inspection, driving around with excessive cargo can cause a truck to burn through a brand-new transmission sooner than expected.
Faulty transmissions are among the most common kinds of mechanical failures that cause truck accidents in Ohio.
Tire Blowout or Failure (Defective or Faulty Tires)
Large trucks put a lot weight on their tires too. That’s why truck owners, operators, and drivers must take great care to continuously monitor their tires.
Proper tire care includes:
- Regularly rotating tires
- Frequently measuring tire tread
- Immediately replacing aging or balding tires
- Continuously monitoring tire pressure
- Actively monitoring for tire recalls
As the tread in commercial truck tires begins to thin, drivers are more likely to lose control, especially in heavy rain, inclement weather, or rough terrain.
Just as ominously, when tires are overinflated, under-inflated, punctured, or subjected to extreme temperatures on asphalt, they become vulnerable to sudden tire blowout, which can have catastrophic consequences on the road.
Too often, truckers ignore warnings about their tires from mechanics, manufacturers, or at scale / weigh stations. Or worse, trucking companies – who do not want to take the time to replace bad tires – refuse to replace bad tires even when the driver does hi s job and identifies the problem.
Steering or Suspension Failure
A driver who can’t steer properly is a driver who has lost control. Unfortunately, problems with the steering column, steering mechanism, steering wheel, or suspension often go unnoticed or uncorrected.
Overloaded cargo, improper driving technique, and hasty or infrequent maintenance are all common causes of steering failure or suspension failure.
Broken Lights: Headlights, Taillights, Side Lights, or Signals
Functioning lights make it possible for truck drivers to see where they’re going — and for others to see the truck.
Broken or burned-out lights can put drivers, passengers, and pedestrians in danger. Even during daylight, malfunctioning turn signals or side lights make it impossible for other drivers to anticipate a truck’s next move.
A simple broken bulb might not seem like a grave threat, but malfunctioning lights rank as one of the most common mechanical failures that cause truck accidents in Ohio.
Given that truck drivers already have more substantial blind spots than other drivers, broken lights pose a serious concern.
Windshield Wiper Malfunction
Don’t underestimate the importance of working windshield wipers. Heavy downpours already increase the likelihood of collision, rollover, tire blowout, or brake malfunction.
Malfunctioning windshield wipers only exacerbate the situation, making it difficult or impossible for truckers to see where they’re going. Rear-end collisions or override collisions may result.
Making matters worse, it is illegal for truck drivers to drive in extreme weather; however, many do because they are under pressure from their employers to meet unreasonable deadlines. When worn down windshield wipers are on a truck being driven in extreme weather it creates a dangerous combination.
Rear Guard Failure
Underride accidents are a type of large truck collision that can happen when a smaller vehicle runs up under the rear tailgate of a semi-truck.
In an effort to prevent underride accidents, an increasing number of truck owners are installing rear guards, a metal bar below the tailgate designed to block entry.
But rear guards can themselves cause serious injury or death, especially when installed improperly. The guard should be positioned at a height that will not impact the smaller car’s windshield, instead impacting its grill. When not positioned correctly, the rear guard can cause devastating injuries in a collision.
Moreover, recent studies have revealed a high rate of malfunction, particularly when the truck begins to exceed a traveling speed of 35 miles per hour.
Unhinged Trailer (Coupling Failure)
A coupling failure (hitch failure / trailer failure) can cause a commercial truck’s trailer to come loose or unhinged on the highway while traveling at high speeds.
These kinds of mechanical failures can cause truck accidents that include jack-knife accidents, truck rollovers, and runaway truck collisions.
Who Is Liable When Mechanical Failures Cause Truck Accidents?
If you’ve been injured because of a large truck’s mechanical failure, you may have a claim against one or more of the following parties:
- The truck driver — Commercial truck drivers must be specially licensed and have a legal duty to inspect their vehicles for mechanical issues both before and after each trip. This includes the duty to stop at weigh stations as required by state and federal regulation, to have their vehicles inspected, to heed safety warnings, and not to continue driving a vehicle with known mechanical issues.
- The trucking company — Too often, truck companies skimp on safety inspections, neglect their maintenance duties, or ignore the federal regulations pertaining to inspections and repairs. When companies or their employees break the rules, they can be held liable for the damages that happen as a result.
- The truck’s manufacturer — Vehicle manufacturers can generally be held liable for putting dangerous or defective products on the market (and for failing to properly instruct consumers on safe usage or to warn them about potential hazards).
- The company that made the tire or other defective part/component — Similarly, the companies that make tires or other parts, components, or accessories can generally be held accountable when defects or breaches of warranty result in an accident.
When these kinds of mechanical failures cause truck accidents in Ohio, the Columbus truck injury lawyers at Colombo Law are here to help.
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At Colombo Law, we proudly serve truck accident victims all across the state of Ohio, not only in Columbus but also in Chillicothe, Circleville, Heath, Hebron, Lancaster, New Lexington, Newark, Pataskala, Westerville, and beyond.
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