Accidents Caused by Truck Failure | Studinski Law, LLC
November 19, 2021

What Causes Semi-Trucks to Fail?

When equipment fails on a semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle, it creates an extremely dangerous situation for other nearby vehicles and their occupants. Big rig equipment failures can cause a truck driver to lose control of the tractor-trailer and crash into other cars or structures, come to a sudden and dangerous stop, or move into other lanes of traffic. 

Truck wrecks can forever change the life of an accident victim. If you were injured or lost a loved one in a crash, the Wisconsin truck accident lawyers at Studinski Law, LLC want to hear your story. Our seasoned attorneys have extensive experience in these complex cases, and we know what it takes to recover the full and fair compensation you deserve.

Common Semi-Truck Equipment Failures

Many truck accidents are caused by the driver’s negligence. However, there are also a significant number of accidents caused by defective parts or by equipment failure on commercial trucks.

Below are some of the most common semi-truck equipment failures that cause accidents.

1. Brakes

According to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) study, brake-related issues account for 29 percent of big rig accidents, making brake failure the leading cause of trucking accidents. Because a truck’s braking system is consistently exposed to friction, pressure, and heat, they wear down without regular maintenance. Brake issues can often result from:

  • External wear and corrosion
  • Air leaks
  • Frozen air lines in winter months, caused by internal water contamination

Effectively functioning brakes are critical to the safety of any vehicle and especially important for 18-wheelers that can weigh more than 80,000 pounds. Brake failures can cause a trucker to completely lose control of a tractor-trailer and seriously injure others on the road.

2. Tires

Because tires are the only points of contact an automobile has with the road, they are often considered the most important elements of any vehicle. However, tires can also be the most dangerous part of a vehicle when they are not properly cared for. The majority of trucking tire failure is the result of:

  • Over or under-inflated tires
  • Misaligned axles
  • Low tread depth

Tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles experience a significant amount of wear and tear, and tires take the brunt of it. Tires wear thin over time, and without adequate care, truck operators are in danger of tires blowing out during a haul. Tire blowouts can affect a driver’s ability to control a big rig, jeopardizing the safety of both the trucker and other drivers on the road.

3. Engines

Modern commercial vehicles are remarkably high-tech. Even minor electrical failures can have devastating consequences for a driver’s ability to safely control and navigate a big rig. An engine failure on a long haul could result in a driver losing control of the rig and causing a crash. One of the leading engine problems is overheating, which can lead to a blown gasket or other problems. Signs that a truck’s engine is beginning to fail can include:

  • Lack of power
  • Low fuel economy
  • Using more oil
  • Excessive smoke or dark exhaust
  • Loud knocking engine noises

Truck engines require routine maintenance to ensure their safety and efficacy. When engines are not properly maintained, catastrophic accidents can – and do- occur.

4. Electrical Systems

An 18-wheeler’s electrical system usually includes the battery, alternator, and starter motor. When any of these components fail to operate, the truck cannot function. Signs of a malfunctioning electrical system can include:

  • Clicking sounds when starting the engine
  • Strong, unusual odors
  • Dim or flickering lights
  • Dead battery
  • Corroded battery connections

Electrical failures can also affect a truck’s lights. When a truck’s headlights, taillights, or sidelights are out, other drivers may be unable to see the entire truck and trailer, potentially causing a serious wreck.

5. Trailer Couplings

Trailer couplings keep trailers connected to the cab and its brakes, lights, and other systems. When couplings fail, trailers can disconnect from cabs and careen aimlessly on roadways, causing devastating wrecks and injuries to others. Before every trip, a truck operator must ensure: 

  • The coupling equipment is in good working order
  • Electric lines and air lines are hooked up
  • Axle loads are balanced
  • Landing gear isn’t damaged
  • The coupling is secure

Although federal law requires annual comprehensive truck inspections, it is the daily maintenance inspections that are most likely to catch immediate safety concerns. When wrecks involving big rigs do occur, it can be difficult to identify the cause as a mechanical failure right away. A truck accident attorney can investigate the facts surrounding your crash and injuries and fight to hold the responsible party or parties accountable for their negligence.

Call Our Wisconsin Truck Accident Lawyers Today

Truck accident cases can be extremely complicated. It is crucial to work with an attorney who is experienced in truck accident lawsuits and has the knowledge and resources necessary to prove negligence in these difficult cases. Whether the wreck was caused by equipment failure or driver error, fault must be quickly and accurately determined.

See our results.

If you have been hurt or lost a loved one in a truck accident, call Studinski Law, LLC today at (715) 343-2850 for a free case review. We proudly serve Plover, Marshfield, and all other Wisconsin areas.

Jason Studinski Injury Attorney
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