Consequences of Defective Truck Equipment

Of all the equipment on the highways in New Mexico, semi trucks are the largest, most dangerous, and most valuable to the American economy. As rail freight transport has gradually been overshadowed by eighteen-wheeler trucking, a significant portion of all movable freight in the U.S. rests on the shoulders of these rolling giants. Like every mechanical device, however, semis can be defective—and the consequence of an equipment failure on a truck can result in highway damage, injury, or death.

Because of the voluminous applications for large trucks, there is a nearly infinite number of possible mechanical failures that might occur, both in the vehicle and in the equipment that secures the cargo:

  • Brake failure

  • Tire failure

  • Lights

  • Engine parts including hoses, etc.

  • Couplers

  • Hitches

  • Load straps

  • Steering

  • Wipers

Unfortunately, when that equipment fails, it is often due not to unpredictable tragedy, but to negligence on the part of either the trucking company, the truck’s owner operator, or the manufacturer of that equipment.

Whose Fault is Defective Truck Equipment?

When equipment fails on a large truck, especially on the highway, it is absolutely paramount that the cause of that failure be established. Several forms of negligence may have contributed to failure in the part or parts in question:

  • Improper maintenance

  • Overtly aggressive handling

  • Complete lack of maintenance

  • Failure to inspect equipment

  • Manufacturer defect, whether in design or materials

If the fault lies with the owner/operator/trucking company, then it will be important to begin the process of establishing a case by looking for maintenance documentation which proves negligent care of the equipment. There is much required documentation in the operation of a large vehicle like a semi—if that documentation is lacking, if maintenance was ignored due to perceived time\budget limitations or even laziness, then a case can be established. If that is possible, then it will be necessary to get a personal injury attorney involved in the process as early and as aggressively as possible.

If the fault lies with the manufacturer of the product that failed, then a case can be established by corroborating with other documented failures of the same equipment. When any consumer purchases a product, they expect it to function effectively with the required proper maintenance. When a faulty part gets into a consumer’s hands and then ends up as part of a vehicle like a semi truck, then failure might mean loss of life. Manufacturers must be held accountable for such equipment failures in order to guarantee the safety of everyone on the road.

Putting Your Case in the Hands of an Attorney

They are experienced in the arena of equipment failures on semis, as well as other issues including:

  • Injury as result of negligence in a trucking accident

  • Injury due to equipment failure on compact vehicles

  • Injury due to lack of maintenance on a corporate vehicle

Why Overloaded Trucks are Dangerous

What is the big deal with truck weight limits, and what effect can exceeding load limits have on accidents? Have you ever wondered why New Mexico has truck weigh stations? The answers to such questions are significant. The risks of overloaded trucks include:

  • Longer stopping time/distance – each extra pound of weight a truck carries adds to the amount of time it takes for that truck to stop. Naturally that means that it requires a longer distance for that truck to make a sudden stop. If that seems insignificant, consider the difference ten feet could make if a large semi came up behind a compact car or a pedestrian. What would the effect be if the truck was slowed to 10 miles per hour versus 30 miles per hour?

  • Tire failure – increases weight puts more friction on tires, increasing heat, and adding to the risk of blowout. Blowouts on semis are dangerous both for the truck itself and for nearby cars.

  • Tipping/Overturn – a heavier load, especially if it is unbalanced produces a greater risk of load tipping, causing the whole truck to overturn. This is especially of concern in curvy areas.

Obviously, truck drivers put themselves at risk when driving overloaded trucks, but they also risk the lives of hundreds of drivers they pass by every day.

Why Overload Trucks?

If overloaded trucks are so dangerous, why do it? The answer is simple: profit margin. Trucking companies have to pay a driver a set amount to travel a certain distance, regardless of how much he has in his load. Obviously, the more product he has on that load, the more money the company makes. Adding even 2% over load limits increases profits over time. Companies driven to make a profit in tough economic times sometimes make choices of money over safety. People who might be responsible for the overloaded truck include:

  • Truck Drivers – They may not load the truck, but they may have to sign off on a load document and turn a blind eye to the extra weight.

  • Shipping Companies – The companies who contract shipping services may be the ones determining how much goes on each truck.

  • Manufacturers – Whether a manufacturer has its own trucking line or contracts their shipping, they are often the ones responsible for determining how much gets sent out on each truck.

Legal Ramifications for Overloaded Trucks

People get hurt as a result of overloaded trucks. Unfortunately, many of those injured are innocent parties who had nothing to do with the overloaded truck. Although laws are in place to determine truck load limits, there is little enforcement. How many times have you driven past a truck weigh station that was closed? At Killian Davis Richter & Mayle, we represent all sides of the spectrum, ensuring justice, and protecting the innocent. When it comes to overloaded trucks we can help:

  • Injured Persons – If you were involved in an accident and there is a possibility the truck involved was overloaded, call us to find out how we can help prosecute those responsible.

  • Family Members – If a loved one was killed in an accident with an overloaded truck, you should be compensated for wrongful death.

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Truck Rollover Statistics

One of the scariest kinds of New Mexico road traffic accidents involves thousands of pounds of steel, diesel fuel, and other materials rolling over on the highway. Add to that a hazardous cargo and you have the recipe for disaster. But, how often do these accidents actually occur? According to the data from the

  • 295,900 large trucks were involved in serious accidents.

  • 3.3% of those accidents involving large trucks involved a rollover.

  • Approximately 400 of those rollover accidents involved fatalities.

To the common observer, 3.3% does not seem like a very concerning figure. However, if you or your loved one were involved in a rollover accident, that 3.3% becomes very personal for you. In such cases, statistics are no longer nearly as important as what your rights are, and what you can do to ensure you or your loved one receives the best care possible.

Fault for Rollover Truck Accidents

While no one wants to be responsible for the pain and expense that results from rollover truck accidents, the fact remains that law enforcement officers, insurance adjusters, and trucking employers are all going to seek to establish fault in a traffic accidents. Because insurance agencies make money by collecting premiums rather than paying out for accidents, their adjusters will seek to place the blame on people other than their clients. The driver of a truck involved in a rollover accident is the most likely candidate for primary fault.

Other factors which can cause rollovers include:

  • Mechanical Failure – a driver is often not the one responsible for truck maintenance. If the rollover was due to mechanical failure, it may actually be your employer who is at fault.

  • Other Vehicles/Drivers – at times a truck rollover is actually due to the unsafe driving of other vehicles. In the process of avoiding an accident, a truck driver’s response may result in the rollover.

  • Improper Loading – again, drivers are seldom the ones responsible for loading trucks. An improperly balanced load can be catastrophic in varied driving conditions.

  • Liquid Sloshing – tanker trucks that are only partially full can be extremely hazardous. Sloshing of contents as the truck goes around curves can cause the tank to roll the truck. Companies who insist that their drivers carry partial tanks are putting their drivers at risk.

Know Your Rights

Dealing with the trauma of rollover truck accidents is a major load for anyone to carry. If you were injured in the accident, your health becomes your major concern. Often times, dealing with the legal aspects can be overwhelming. This is why it is important to seek excellent legal help. A lawyer can help you:

  • Prove the actual cause of the accident

  • Fight big companies who do not want to accept responsibility

  • Ensure your medical bills are taken care of

  • Fight to keep your driving privileges