Florida Trucking Accidents Caused By Faulty Brakes
Most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants. The main problem is the vulnerability of people traveling in smaller vehicles. Trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars and are taller with greater ground clearance, which can result in smaller vehicles under riding trucks in crashes.
Truck braking capability can be a factor in truck crashes. Loaded tractor-trailers take 20-40 percent farther than cars to stop, and the discrepancy is greater on wet and slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes.
Brakes on Florida Trucks
On an annual basis, brake failures make up approximately five percent of all commercial trucking accidents. Although there are numerous signs of impending brake failure, such as increased stopping distance and abnormal grinding sounds while operating the brakes, some less-than-scrupulous trucking companies ignore the warning signs and hope that maintenance can be put off for a little longer thereby putting all Florida drivers at risk. Some of the brake problems that can cause a crash or contribute greatly to the injuries sustained in a trucking-related collision include:
- GLAZED BRAKES
Glazing of the brake pads due to excessive use and overheating is one of the more common brake problems. To the touch, brake pads seem very hard, but they are actually softer when compared to the steel brake rotors on which they act. Long periods of heavy braking or improper brake application in service can raise temperatures beyond what the pads were designed to withstand. This excessive heat can cause the resins and binders that make up part of the pad to melt and break down. Too much heat generated over and over can cause the brake pad material to literally crystalize on a molecular level. This action eventually makes the pads much harder and makes them much less effective than a normal, undamaged pad. (The term “glazed” is used because the surface of the brake pad often appears smooth and shiny, much like a glazed ceramic tile.)
Failure of the emergency brake cable system can result in the full or partial application of the truck’s brakes without the driver having his foot on the brake pedal itself. The resulting brake application can feel as if the trucker is actually applying the brakes, manifesting itself in an unusual amount of drag on the vehicle even during acceleration. This problem can arise when the emergency brake cables become “frozen” due to a buildup of rust inside the protective cable sheathing. The rust buildup causes the cables to remain taut even after the driver has released the emergency brake. Such a condition often requires immediate attention due to its extreme wearing effects and possible failure of all or part of the vehicle’s braking system.
- BRAKE PEDAL PULSATION
When the driver of a commercial motor vehicle senses a pulsating feeling when applying the brakes, the problem it reveals can sometimes be traced to a combination of excessive heat and/or wear in the brake system. Heat and wear can both cause the brake rotors or drums to warp, which in turn causes the pulsing effect during braking. This condition may call for an overhaul of one or more of the vehicle’s brake drums or rotors.
Liability After a Florida Truck Collision
After a Florida collision caused by faulty breaks on a semi-truck, it is important to evaluate all of the circumstances surrounding the crash, as well as the factors that may have contributed to the collision, in order to determine who should be liable for the injuries sustained or death caused by the crash. More than one party may be held responsible for trucking-related accidents, including the truck driver himself, the trucker’s employer, the firm that loaded the truck, the company or repair facility that serviced the vehicle’s brakes, and the braking equipment manufacturer.
- TRUCK DRIVERS
In some instances, truckers will make a deliberate effort to depower their vehicle’s front brakes, which places the lion’s share of the braking effort on the trailer’s brakes or through the act of downshifting the transmission to slow the vehicle. In the case of depowering the brakes, the loss of some braking performance can mean the difference between life and death when an accident situation arises on Florida highways.
- MAINTENANCE FACILITIES
Maintenance shops can often be held liable for damages following a serious trucking-related traffic accident if it can be shown that the facility either did not properly perform maintenance on a commercial vehicle or there was a lack of correct service on parts or components whose failure caused the injury accident.
- BRAKE MANUFACTURERS
Manufacturers can be held liable for certain aspects of brake system design, which, if faulty, may have caused a brake failure and resulted in a serious injury accident. Brake manufacturers, or even the truck manufacturer, could be held liable for an accident if it did not properly design the brake parts, components or system. Even if the parts were designed correctly, if there was a defect in the manufacturing process that caused the part to later fail in service, the manufacturer could also be responsible for injuries or deaths resulting from the crash.
Contact a Florida Truck Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one were involved in an accident with a large rig, you likely sustained many serious injuries and maybe even life changing disabilities. At the Dolman Law Group in Florida, our team of experienced truck accident lawyers has successfully helped many truck accident victims obtain the compensation they deserve for their injuries and related losses. To make sure that you receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled, it is important to have an experienced truck accident attorney handling your case. Please call our office at 727-451-6900 today.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756