What Maintenance Errors Make a Truck Unsafe to Drive?

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Chris Gilreath with Gilreath & Associates.

What Maintenance Errors Make a Truck Unsafe to Drive?
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18-wheelers, semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and large trucks by any other name can present significant dangers to both the truck driver and anyone else on the road when maintenance errors arise. This is why trucking companies and truck drivers are required to follow industry regulations regarding frequent and thorough equipment checks, including making timely repairs. When a maintenance error results in an accident between a large truck and another vehicle, the party responsible for preventing that error may be liable for the resulting damages.

The following maintenance errors can make an 18-wheeler unsafe for the road:

  • Worn or damaged tires
  • Corroded or poorly repaired brakes
  • Damaged or problematic steering system
  • Electrical failures inhibiting the operation of the vehicle’s systems
  • Broken or faded headlights
  • Loose or failing trailer couplings
  • Undetected/unrepaired engine damage
  • Inadequate fluid levels
  • Unrepaired leaks
  • Any existing problem with the truck that was not listed in the daily vehicle inspection report (DVIR)

A truck driver is required to inspect their vehicle prior to taking it out on the road.

First and foremost, a truck driver is responsible for assessing all of the above mechanics of their vehicle and more before taking a truck out on the road. At the end of the day the same checklist is supposed to be run through, and the need for any repairs communicated clearly in the DVIR and signed off by the trucking company as fully repaired before the truck goes out on the road again. This is where liability in the event of a truck accident caused by maintenance errors breaks down.

Liability could fall on multiple parties in the event of an accident caused by a maintenance error with a large truck.

If the accident occurred because a driver failed to conduct a thorough pre or post trip truck inspection, the driver could be liable for any resulting damages. However, if the trucking company was informed of problems with the vehicle and signed off on repairs that were not performed or not performed correctly, the company could be liable for any damages resulting from an accident. Similarly, if a maintenance provider such as a mechanic or repair shop was responsible for making the repairs yet did not repair the truck sufficiently, the maintenance provider could be liable for damages following an accident.

It may be difficult to obtain maintenance logs following a truck accident.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult for the average accident victim to identify maintenance errors as the cause of the accident; this is because trucking companies rarely volunteer documentation that could place liability on themself or their drivers following an accident. Documentation that could highlight a mistake on the part of the trucking company or driver may include maintenance records, repair certifications, driving logs, and more.

This is why truck accident cases typically require the help of an experienced truck accident attorney; these attorneys know exactly what kind of evidence is likely to be available following a truck accident as well as how to obtain that evidence from the trucking company, identifying any alterations to the evidence and/or efforts to withhold or destroy evidence that could highlight negligence on the part of the company or driver in question. The good news is that most truck accident attorneys offer free consultations to accident victims and work on contingency, which means clients don’t pay unless they win their case.

To learn more about maintenance errors that can contribute to truck accidents or discuss your recovery options following an accident, reach out to a truck accident attorney in your area.

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