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Truck Accidents Due to Negligent Maintenance

Whenever a semi-truck or tractor-trailer gets into an accident, it is only natural to be suspicious of the driver. Semi-trucks are large and incredibly heavy, which makes them extremely dangerous to the vehicles and pedestrians around them. While many accidents are in fact the cause of human error on the part of the driver, sometimes a mechanical issue or failure to is blame. When the negligent failure to inspect or maintain a commercial trucking vehicle causes an accident, then the people or entities responsible for maintaining that truck may be held legally liable for any damages caused in an accident.

Regular Maintenance and Repairs are Required for Commercial Trucks

All vehicles need routine maintenance and care, and semi-trucks are no exception. Unlike passenger vehicles, whose owners may put off minor things like regular oil changes or checking the tire pressure, state and federal laws mandate when a large commercial vehicle must be inspected and maintained.

This is because large commercial trucks are complex vehicles. Not only do semis weigh 20 to 30 times more than the average passenger car, but they also require special training and expertise to operate and repair properly. A standard 18-wheeler has 10 forward and 2 reverse gears, and many tractor-trailers have 13, 15, or even 18 gears. The dashboard of a semi is full of gauges, levers, switches, and other instrumentation that manages the vehicles many mechanical parts. Without proper training, repairing these vehicles would be nearly impossible.

Given the complexity of these vehicles, it is no surprise that truck maintenance and care is strictly regulated. The truck’s driver, the truck’s owner, and the repair and maintenance companies that work on the vehicle all have a responsibility to ensure that the truck is functioning properly before it takes to the road. Semi-trucks are required to have a full inspection annually, and the driver or owner must keep comprehensive records of the vehicle’s maintenance and repairs. If the owner of the truck fails to do any of these things, he or she may be liable for injuries or damages caused by a truck accident.

FMCSA Regulations Mandate Maintenance and Repairs

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversees interstate commercial trucking. This federal agency has created a comprehensive set of regulations designed to make sure all commercial vehicles are properly inspected and maintained.

For instance, one rule requires truckers to perform a vehicle inspection before driving the truck on any trip. Another regulation requires the truck driver to also perform a post-trip inspection. These daily inspections should catch most possible mechanical issues in the vehicle.

Because mechanical failures in vehicles are common, the FMCSA also requires truck owners and drivers to keep thorough records of all inspections, repairs, and maintenance work. One of the reasons it is important to contact an attorney immediately after a truck accident is so that the attorney can inspect these records before they are altered or destroyed.

Trucking companies and commercial vehicle owners must keep these records for at least one year while the vehicle is in use, and for at least six months after a vehicle is sold or transferred to another person or company. If the owner of the vehicle fails to preserve these records, the owner can be found liable for any injuries or damages caused by the owner’s failure to inspect, maintain, or repair the vehicle.

For instance, suppose a semi-truck has faulty brakes and causes an accident in Miami. If a pre-trip inspection would have caught the brake issue, the vehicle’s owner and the driver might both be liable for any damages resulting from that accident. Former owners can also be held liable after the vehicle is sold if it can be proven that the previous owner failed to follow state or federal maintenance laws.

Some of the most common maintenance problems that cause semi-truck accidents include:

  • Faulty or failed brakes,
  • Trailer hitch failures,
  • Tire blowouts,
  • Steering column problems,
  • Broken headlights, turn lights, or other signal lights, and
  • Unsecured cargo or parts falling from the vehicle.

When a driver or owner ignores a relatively easy-to-fix problem, or when an owner fails to schedule regular maintenance, the results can be tragic. If the truck is not able to stop, or swerves into another lane, everyone on the road is in danger.

Get Help From a Miami Truck Accident Attorney

The knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A., have investigated hundreds of truck accidents, including those caused by a lack of maintenance or repairs. If you were injured in a semi-truck accident in Miami, call Gerson & Schwartz immediately. We will work fast to preserve the vehicle and its maintenance records, and will help make sure that important evidence is not lost or destroyed. To schedule your free consultation, contact our office today by calling (877) 475-2905 or (305) 371-6000.

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