Truck Accidents Caused by Defective Brakes in Colorado

Truck Accidents Caused by Defective Brakes

Large trucks come equipped with powerful braking systems, but the brakes undergo a lot of wear and tear on the road. Even mild wear can significantly reduce the effectiveness of truck brakes. Manufacturing defects and poor maintenance can lead to complete brake failure, and the consequences can be devastating. 

As consumers, we should be able to trust that truck part manufacturers and mechanics will design and install safe brakes. Stopping a commercial truck requires significant time, distance, and a specialized braking system. Any flaw could cause the brakes to malfunction and cause a truck accident.  

Did you or a loved one suffer injuries in a truck crash caused by defective brakes? You may be eligible for substantial compensation to account for your losses. A Colorado truck accident lawyer at Earl & Earl, PLLC can identify the responsible parties and hold them accountable for their recklessness. Call or contact us for a free consultation today. 

Are Truck Brake Inspections Required?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes strict safety standards and inspection requirements for commercial vehicle brakes and components. Unfortunately, FMCSA research suggests brake problems are a factor in as many as 30 percent of truck accidents. The agency also lists defective brakes and related issues as one of the most common maintenance violations. 

FMCSA requires regular brake inspections for commercial motor vehicles. Every truck must undergo a comprehensive examination at least once per year. Truck drivers also must conduct essential inspections before every trip. If an inspection reveals any problems with the truck’s brake system, drivers cannot operate the truck until repairs are made. 

Pre-trip inspections often yield disturbing findings. FMCSA statistics show nearly one-third of large trucks inspected for pre-crash infractions had some type of brake problem. And among semi-truck accidents where brake function was a critical factor, 46 percent of trucks had brake violations.

Common Types of Brake Problems

Most modern trucks use air brake systems, which rely on compressed air to activate brakes and slow trucks down. Air brake systems are more complex than the hydraulic brake systems common in cars, so there are more opportunities for things to go wrong. Common types of brake problems include: 

  • Brake imbalances If any part of the braking system is out of balance, specific brakes may exert more force than others. Brake imbalances are common contributing factors in truck jackknife accidents.
  • Overheating – Poor driving techniques can cause brakes to overheat, especially when large rigs are traveling downhill. Overheated brakes wear out much more quickly, reducing the lifespan of the brakes and increasing crash risk.
  • Misaligned brake shoes Brake shoes are components that push against the inner lining of the brake drum, which stops the wheels from moving. Misaligned brake shoes can wear unevenly and become unreliable.
  • Residue in air reservoirs If water, oils, or other types of residue seep into air reservoirs, they can cause corrosion, leading to brake failure.
  • Faulty air compressors If the pressure in a truck’s air brakes builds up too slowly or dissipates too quickly, it may be due to air compressor system issues.
  • Damaged brake tubes The rubber or thermoplastic hoses that house truck brake lines are prone to chafing, kinking, and other types of deterioration that can reduce their effectiveness over time.
  • Inadequate lubrication Trucks operating in harsh weather conditions should ensure caliper pins, clips, and other critical brake components are properly and regularly lubricated.

What Causes Truck Brakes to Fail?

Here are some of the top reasons that truck brakes fail:

  • Poor braking technique Using an air brake system properly requires specialized training and practice. When truck drivers are inexperienced or inattentive, they may use poor braking methods that increase the risk of brake failure.
  • Inadequate maintenance If a truck driver or trucking company fails to conduct regular inspections, maintenance, or repairs, truck braking systems can undergo dangerous amounts of wear and tear.
  • Overloaded trailers If cargo loading teams put too much freight in the back of a truck, the excess weight can severely strain brake systems, making failure more likely.
  • Manufacturing or design flaws In some cases, negligent design teams or manufacturers produce flawed brake systems prone to failure.

Truck Brake Failure Statistics

FMCSA conducts regular studies to examine the top contributing factors in U.S. truck crashes. One study found alarming statistics regarding brake failure truck crashes. The findings showed: 

  • Brake problems were among the top 10 most common factors associated with large truck accidents.
  • Trucks with brake problems are 170 percent more likely to be cited as the critical reason for a truck accident.
  • Throughout the three-year study period, 29 percent of large trucks involved in crashes (41,000 trucks total) had brake problems.

Who Can Be Held Liable for Truck Brake Failure?

Depending on the circumstances, any of the following parties may be liable for a truck accident due to defective brakes in Colorado:

  • Truck driver A driver could be liable if they engaged in unsafe braking techniques or failed to conduct pre-trip inspections.
  • Trucking company A truck company could be liable if it fails to conduct yearly truck inspections or verify drivers are conducting pre-trip inspections.
  • Maintenance crews Repair technicians and teams may be at fault if they fail to repair a faulty brake system or inspect brake systems properly. 
  • Cargo loading team Overloading a trailer puts more stress on a truck’s brakes when it tries to stop or slow down. 
  • Truck parts manufacturer A poorly designed or assembled brake system puts trucks in a dangerous position before they even hit the road. In these cases, the parts manufacturers could be held financially responsible. 


Get Legal Advice From Our Trusted Truck Accident Attorneys

Seeking compensation for a crash caused by a defective part or system can be challenging, but with the right legal team, you could hold the responsible party accountable and recover money to restore your financial wellbeing and rebuild your life. 

Reach out to Earl & Earl, PLLC for reliable guidance about your legal options. Call or contact us today for a free case review with a truck accident attorney. 

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