What Experienced Big Rig Accident Attorneys Know
Half a million truck accidents occur in the United States accidents every year, resulting in nearly 4,000 deaths and more than a hundred thousand injuries. Ask big rig accident attorneys and they will tell you that many of their clients are victims of accidents caused by maintenance issues, such as faulty brakes, improperly inflated tires and unsecured cargo. Below are some of the most common truck maintenance issues that can lead to accidents:
- Brakes: Worn or faulty brakes are among the main causes of truck accidents. Proper maintenance of brakes is necessary to avoid accidents resulting from brake failures and increased stopping distance. Brakes should be inspected at regular intervals. Pads and other parts should be replaced before they are worn out. Slack adjusters and S Cams should be greased. The air compression pressure gauge, linings and hoses should be checked regularly to ensure that they are in good condition. Brakes should be serviced professionally on a routine basis.
- Steering column: The steering column is one of the most important parts of a truck. Located at the top of the steering system, it attaches directly to the steering wheel. An old or improperly maintained steering column may exhibit the following symptoms: the steering tilt function doesn’t lock; there is a clicking or grinding sound when turning the wheel; the steering wheel operates roughly; or the wheel does not return to the middle. All of these can lead to a crash.
- Trailer hitch: Tractor-trailer accidents are sometimes caused by the trailer becoming unhitched from the truck due to a weak, rusted or improperly secured hitch. When a trailer somehow becomes separated from its tractor in the middle of a busy highway, this can result in a disastrous accident. Therefore, it is important to inspect and maintain the trailer hitch at regular intervals and to make sure that the hitch is secured properly before embarking on a trip.
- Suspension system: Failure to inspect the truck’s suspension system regularly can lead to accidents. When the suspension becomes loose, tires wear quickly, springs break and fuel efficiency drops. The most critical aspect of suspension system maintenance, regardless of the truck type or brand, is the fastener suspension. Visual inspection of the fastener should be done every three to six months and retorqueing should be done at least once a year. U-bolts, bushing, wheel bearing, and shock absorbers should be inspected and maintained regularly.
- Tires: As the components that bear the entire load of the truck as well as the only components that are in direct contact with the road, tires are constantly subjected to massive amounts of wear and tear. Failure to inspect and maintain tires regularly can result in tire blowouts, increased braking distance and other dangerous incidents. The main causes of tire blowouts are incorrect tire pressure and old and worn out tires. Therefore, tires must be inflated to the right pressure at all times and old tires should be replaced with new ones.
- Lights and reflective surfaces: Lights and reflective surface are important safety features of trucks. It is extremely dangerous to drive with defective, broken or missing headlights, signal lights and reflective surfaces at night and during bad weather conditions. Truck drivers and maintenance crew often fail to give priority to lights. Lights should be checked and maintained regularly. Broken, defective and missing lights should be replaced immediately.
- Unsecured cargo: Cargo falling off a truck in the middle of a roadway can cause traffic congestion at best and fatal crashes at worst. Sometimes, the people who load the cargo fail to secure them properly in their haste to get the job done quickly. It is the truck driver’s duty to make sure that the cargo is secured tightly and properly before embarking on a trip.
Failure by a trucking company to comply with basic maintenance requirements makes them liable for damages in the event of an accident. If you have been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other damages. Consult with reputable big rig accident attorneys to learn more about the injury claims process.