Nobody would dispute the fact that, due to the incredible size and weight of commercial motor vehicles, trucking-related road wrecks can be some of the most costly in terms of property damage, not to mention the human toll that these behemoths can wreak when colliding with much smaller passenger vehicles. Besides the obvious size difference, many people don’t consider the multiples of mass that an 18-wheeler big rig represents when compared to an average family sedan or even a large sport utility vehicle.
For example, an average semi tractor-trailer carrying no cargo at all weighs in at about 30,000 pounds, that’s 15 tons of iron and steel moving down the beltway at a fair clip. Add a full load of goods inside the trailer of a big rig semi and the total curb weight of that commercial vehicle can hit 50,000 pounds, though some trucks may tip the scales at nearly 80,000 pounds. As Maryland personal injury lawyers and trucking accident attorneys, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, is well aware of the hazards that simple weight disparity can present to motorist sharing the roadway with one or more commercial motor vehicles, or CMVs.
When one considers that a loaded truck can weigh 10 to 20 times, or more, than that of the average passenger car, it quickly becomes evident that being involved in a traffic collision with almost any kind of commercial truck can be a dangerous and possibly deadly occurrence. Anyone who has driven behind a fully-loaded truck, even on a slight incline, knows how long it takes these vehicles to reach highway speeds. Looking at acceleration as an indication of weight, now imagine how much braking power it might take to bring the same fully-loaded vehicle to a complete stop.
This is one of the things that many people fail to take into consideration when sharing the road with one or more tractor-trailers. Being in close proximity to a large truck that is having problems with its braking system is not a situation that anybody should wish for. As automobile injury accident lawyers, our experience in the area of trucking-related personal injury claims allows us to better appreciate the inherent dangers lurking in every 18-wheeler, city bus, tanker truck and auto transporter. When a brake failure occurs on a CMV traveling at 50, 60 or 70mph, there is very little margin for safety.
One of the numerous types of car-truck crashes can be traced back to full or partial failure of the larger vehicle’s braking system. The reasons for a failure of this kind can include defective brake parts, oil-contaminated friction materials, loss of air pressure, incorrect or improper maintenance, or even deliberate tampering. Whatever the cause of the brake failure, the reduction or loss of stopping power on a 20- to 40-ton motor vehicle can trigger a crash resulting in significant bodily injuries and even death.
Many trucking brake failures happen due to overheating and subsequent malfunction. A dangerous overheating condition can be caused by negligence in the maintenance of the vehicle’s brakes by a repair depot or trucking maintenance facility. Even improper placement or overloading of cargo onto the vehicle can result in brake temperatures exceeding recommended limits. Trucks that must navigate steep inclines, heading down a mountain pass, for instance, can experience dangerous super-heated braking linings due to improper downhill braking techniques by the truck driver.
Although the trucking industry recommends that brief and repeated application of the brakes under downhill driving situations to avoid a potentially dangerous overheating condition, inadequately-trained or inexperienced truck drivers may not follow this procedure. If the brakes are already compromised or faulty to begin with, a combination of these factors can increase the chances of an eventual runaway situation and, as a consequence, a possible collision with one or more other vehicles on the roadway.
As trucking accident lawyers, Lebowitz & Mzhen recognizes that cargo transport companies are responsible for the proper maintenance of their vehicle fleet, which includes inspecting and servicing critical braking components and systems. Not surprisingly, the federal government has strict regulations related to the safe repair and maintenance of truck braking systems.
When determining responsibility for a trucking-related injury accident in which a faulty component in the braking system may have resulted in a serious traffic accident, personal injury lawyers will consider several specific areas. These include the design, manufacture and marketing of the components and the vehicles on which they are used. Personal injury claims that involve defective truck parts, state laws regarding products liability will usually apply when determining responsibility for a failed vehicle component or part.
When it comes to trucking-related injury accidents, Lebowitz & Mzhen is dedicated to holding the responsible parties accountable for serious bodily injuries such as broken bones, traumatic head injuries, amputated limbs and spinal cord damage, among others. Our legal staff is skilled in the area of personal injury law and experienced in fighting for the rights of victims involved in auto, truck or motorcycle injury accidents.
Sadly, there are some truck drivers -- and even a few truck transport companies -- that have been known to do only the minimum maintenance necessary to meet federal regulations; some do less than that required by law, which can lead to terrible consequences. As professional legal experts in the field of trucking accident law, our team considers all aspects of a traffic accident case, with both the direct and indirect potential causes that may have precipitated a severe trucking-related injury accident.
We welcome inquiries from victims and their families. If you or a loved one has been badly hurt as a result of a crash caused by a failed truck component, brakes that may have been tampered with, or simply an instance of distracted or drunken driving, our goal is to help you recover all of the damages you deserve under Maryland law. Please take a moment to contact our legal offices at (800) 654-1949 to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Alternately, if you wish, you may email either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to set up a meeting to discuss your trucking injury case.