When the brakes on a large truck fail, crashes with passenger vehicles will happen and innocent people can be severely injured or worse. If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident that was or may have been caused because of brake failure in Houston, The Callahan Law Firm is ready to help you seek justice and fair compensation.
Contact us today for a free consultation and find out how we can help.
How Brake Failures Occur
Brakes can fail for many reasons, most commonly:
- Inadequate safety inspections – Brakes experience a lot of wear and tear and must be inspected regularly. Avoiding, falsifying, or otherwise improperly documenting safety inspections can mean serious brake issues may go unaddressed.
- Improper driver training – Brake failures can also happen when inexperienced or improperly trained drivers are put behind the wheel before they’re ready. Drivers need to be aware of proper brake procedures and how to use engine shifting to prevent the brakes from over-wear and overheating.
- Overheating – Overheating of the brakes can cause brake drums to expand. When that happens, they push the rest of the brake components out of alignment and diminish stopping power. Brakes can quickly overheat from repeated use and overapplication. Inexperienced or improperly trained drivers often push brakes to their limits with overuse.
- Air supply damage – Tractor truck and trailer brakes require significant air pressure to function, which the air supply system provides. If that air supply becomes compromised or is damaged, the brakes may not be able to function correctly.
- Adjustment errors – Truck brakes are equipped with automatic brake adjusters. However, if a driver makes too many manual adjustments, the clutch mechanism can eventually give out, causing the brakes to fail.
- Overloading cargo – If a truck is overloaded, the added weight will increase inertia and, consequently, increase the braking power needed to stop the vehicle. Cargo that is loaded improperly can also throw off weight distribution. When cargo weight is not evenly distributed, brakes can overheat or malfunction.
- Manufacture defects – Sometimes, drivers can do everything right and still be on the wrong end of a truck accident, particularly when their equipment is defective. Design and manufacturing errors put everyone on the road at risk, including truck drivers.
Why Is Brake Failure So Common in Houston Truck Accidents?
Houston is a sprawling metropolis with challenging traffic conditions, which means that truck drivers need to apply their brakes frequently – and the more often a driver hits the brakes, the more heat and wear they’re putting on that critical system. That, in turn, leads to a higher chance that the brakes will wear down and eventually not function as they should or fail. That’s true for all vehicles, but especially for tractor-trailers, which have not one but two braking systems – the tractor trucks brake system and the trailer’s brake system. Doubling the braking systems can mean double the possibility of something going wrong with one or both of the systems, including failure.
In fact, brake failures are so common that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that brake problems cause nearly 1 in 3 large truck crashes.
Who Could Be Liable for Large Truck Crashes Caused by Brake Failure?
In most car accidents, the legally liable party is one or more of the drivers involved in the crash. However, establishing liability in truck accidents can be considerably more complicated. One reason is that more than one party may be responsible for causing the crash, meaning more than one party may be liable for your injuries and thus responsible for your damages.
The following are examples of parties who could share liability for a truck accident caused by brake failure:
- The truck driver
- The owner of the truck and trailer
- The trucking company
- The manufacturer of the brakes
- The mechanics who worked on the brakes
- The cargo loading company
Most Common Brake Problems that Can Result in a Truck Accident in Houston
It takes an enormous amount of force to slow down a tractor-trailer that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. And that puts a lot of stress and strain on the braking system’s components, which must be properly inspected and maintained to prevent brake failure.
Some of the most common brake problems associated with truck accidents in Houston include:
- Improper maintenance
- Failure or inadequate inspections
- Poorly adjusted brakes
- Overheated brakes
- Worn brake components
- Inadequate air pressure
- Faulty or misconfigured suspension
- Inadequate lubrication
- Manufacturing defect
- Overloaded trailer
Types of Truck Accidents Caused by Brake Failure in Houston
A driver who can’t rely on their braking system to function properly can’t control their vehicle. It’s as simple as that. That’s why brake failure can lead to many different types of truck accidents, including:
- Rear-end collisions
- Intersection crashes
- Speeding accidents
- Jackknife accidents
- T-bone collisions
- Undercarriage or underride collisions
Serious Injuries Happen When Truck Brakes Give Out
Truck accidents often result in significant injuries to the occupants of smaller passenger vehicles. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that an estimated 72 percent of people who sustain fatal injuries in collisions with large trucks are the occupants of the other vehicle. Smaller vehicles simply don’t offer adequate protection from the size, structure and momentum of an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer.
Some of the most common injuries associated with truck brake accidents include:
- Head injuries including traumatic brain injury
- Spinal injuries
- Fractured bones
- Crush injuries
- Loss of limb and amputation
- Burn injuries
- Internal organ injuries
Pursuing an Injury Claim After a Truck Accident Involving Bad Brakes
Pursuing an injury claim after a truck crash caused by brake failures can be challenging. The trucking company will have most of the evidence needed to establish that a brake failure was the cause of the crash or a contributing factor. Electronically recorded data in a tractor-truck’s “black box”, safety inspection reports, maintenance records and cargo manifests are often critical in determining whether a brake failure happened. Gaining access to this evidence on your own is unlikely at best. Legal intervention is the most effective way to get the information necessary to successfully pursue a claim and obtain the compensation you and your family deserve.
How Our Houston Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help You
A Houston truck accident attorney can help you get full compensation for injuries and damages after a brake failure truck accident by:
- Investigating the accident
- Ensuring essential evidence is preserved and not destroyed
- Gathering vital evidence
- Interviewing witnesses
- Determining what happened and why
- Handling all communication with insurers, the trucking company and any other responsible parties
- Negotiating aggressively for a settlement when possible
- Filing a lawsuit and taking your case to trial, when necessary
Contact Us Now for a Free Claim Review
Before you talk to anyone – whether the trucking company, one of their insurance companies, or one of their investigators – the best course of action is to get in touch with a brake failure truck accident attorney. At The Callahan Law Firm, we have the experience, skill and resources required to help you get full and fair compensation after a brake failure truck accident in Houston or anywhere else in the state of Texas.