Fatal Car-Truck Accidents Caused by Defective Truck Parts or Components

Ask anyone who has ever survived a serious highway accident and they will likely tell you that the sudden and unexpected collision between two passenger cars traveling at high speeds is one of the most violent and physically threatening encounters one can experience. While it may be difficult for anyone who has not been involved in a roadway collision to quantify the extreme forces at work during a car crash, it is safe to say that having one's vehicle struck by a commercial truck would up the ante to an incredible degree.

As Baltimore personal injury attorneys who represent victims of trucking-related traffic accidents, the legal experts at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, know how easily an innocent person can become an injured victim in the blink of an eye. Commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are not only large, they also carry huge volumes of cargo, some of it weighing several dozen tons. Heavily loaded, these massive 18-wheeler delivery trucks, tanker vehicles, flatbed haulers and automobile transport trucks vastly outweigh any family sedan, minivan or SUV on the beltway.

Unlike a roadway accident between two passenger vehicles, Maryland traffic accidents involving a commercial motor vehicle, such as a fully-loaded big rig semi, can often result in serious and even life-threatening injuries for those victims unfortunate enough to find themselves in a commercial trucking wreck. Quite simply, trucking-related beltway wrecks and interstate trucking crashes cannot be placed in the same category as that of typical passenger car accidents. As automobile and trucking injury lawyers, we know how much more deadly a commercial truck crash can truly be.

Due to their immense size and large carrying capacity, CMVs are required by law to meet a variety of strict state and federal safety standards and operating rules and requirements. The men and women who operate these vehicles must also meet specific standards in order to obtain, and then maintain, their commercial driver's license (CDL). Maryland's commercial vehicle laws, as well as those established by the federal government -- through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) -- have been created to ensure the safety of the motoring public.

If the cause of a traffic accident can be traced to the fault of a commercial truck driver operating a tractor-trailer or other large CMV on a Maryland roadway, or if a freight company violated one or more state or federal laws governing the trucking industry, there may be grounds to hold the driver and/or his employer responsible for the victim's injuries. Of course, some CMV-related accidents that take place in counties such as Anne Arundel, Prince George's and Baltimore, as well as in the District of Columbia, can be the result of a faulty part or component, in which case there may be a need to file a products liability lawsuit against one or more parties.

Sometimes the root cause of a commercial truck wreck is not immediately clear, but which appear not to be the fault of the driver. In fact, quite a few serious injury and fatal trucking-related collisions take place because of a dangerous condition posed by a defective part or piece of equipment on the truck itself. In such situations, establishing fault can often be a difficult and time-consuming task. This is why the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen recommends that victims of CMV collisions contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who has a background in commercial truck injury accidents, as well as products liability law.

Even the most deadly of trucking wrecks can sometimes be blamed on the simplest of problems. From faulty vehicle lighting or electrical systems, to improperly tightened wheel nuts, the numerous safety-related parts and components on any large commercial truck mean that there is always opportunity for disaster, given the right circumstances. Other problems may not be as simple, such as defective tires and retreads, poorly constructed fuel tanks, or incorrectly manufactured brake or steering components, as well as malfunctioning trailer hitches or insufficiently designed underride protection.

Whether the cause is simple or more complicated, the value of a having a skilled trucking accident lawyer by one's side cannot be overstated. We understand that no matter what the cause, simple or complicated, the bodily injuries sustained by victims of car-truck collisions can be severe, long-lasting and costly, not just now, but in the future as well. As Maryland and Washington, D.C., personal injury lawyers, we know how debilitating, disabling and potentially fatal any commercial vehicle crash can be.

It is important to point out that the legal process can be complicated when pursuing the recovery of monetary compensation for costs incurred due to doctor and hospital care resulting from a commercial trucking collision. Having an experienced trucking accident attorney is necessary in many ways, but also when considering the longer-term implications of every step in the legal process. Tracking down the source of a defective part or component can be a time-consuming process in itself, but something that must be done if there is any chance of winning a products liability case.

Equipment or part failure, which leads to a crash, can often be the result of a design error or manufacturing defect. Each suspect part must be examined, including those in the cab, the drivertrain and the trailer -- all the equipment that functions to allow safe operation of a CMV. Almost any part of a large truck can malfunction or fail. The following is a list of some of the more common areas where a critical part has been known to cause or contribute to a serious injury accident or wrongful death:

  • Defective tires leading to a blowout or separated tread
  • Faulty or improperly mounted wheels
  • Malfunctioning brakes or ABS system failure
  • Faulty trailer hitch
  • Defective cargo tie-down equipment that allows a load to fall from the trailer
  • Defective tractor-to-trailer couplings
  • Failed hydraulic lines
  • Manufacturing defects in steering components
  • Corroded or improperly sealed electrical connections
  • Burned out headlights, tail lamps or directional (turn) signals
  • Faulty windshield defroster/defogger
  • Broken mirrors

If an investigation determines that a trucking-related traffic accident was caused by an equipment failure, numerous parties may be liable. Some failures can be traced to a lack of inspection by the driver, such as skipping a required maintenance check. In a percent of cases, the trucking company itself may be liable if it can be shown that the firm failed to replace old, worn or damaged brake or steering parts in an effort to save on costs. If a part that should have been replaced fails in service, the fleet owner could be held responsible.

In cases of design errors or manufacturing defects, the manufacturer of the faulty equipment could be found responsible, as well, if a crash can be attributed in whole or in part to the failure of a poorly designed or incorrectly manufactured part or component. Because the possibilities are so numerous, we highly recommend contacting a skilled personal injury lawyer who has experience litigating commercial vehicle accident cases and is well versed in products liability law. The professionals at Lebowitz & Mzhen are ready and willing to offer their services. Our legal staff will be able to assess your case and explain your options going forward.

If your injuries have been caused by a negligent truck driver, faulty commercial truck part or component, or an improperly maintained vehicle, the law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen are here to help. Please contact us toll-free to arrange a free no-obligation consultation. Our direct line is (800) 654-1949; or you can email Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to arrange a face-to-face free initial consultation.