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Are You Entitled to Compensation if a Defective Truck Part Contributed to the Accident?

September 8, 2023

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Since 2009, fatal crashes involving trucks have been on the rise, and this trend is certainly visible in the bustling city of Cleveland, Ohio. In response to this trend, Congress has appropriated $30 million to fund a collaborative investigation by the FMCSA and NHTSA into the causes of these accidents.

While many factors play a role, one often overlooked cause is defective truck parts. From faulty brakes to malfunctioning steering systems, a single defect can lead to severe accidents and devastating injuries.

In Ohio, you may seek damages if you are injured in a collision caused by defective truck parts. Defects fall under a legal theory known as product liability. In such cases, the manufacturer, supplier, or repairer of the defective truck part could be held liable.

However, proving liability in such cases can be a daunting task. You must show that the truck was defective, as well as a causal link between the defect and the accident. This process involves intricate investigations, and you might need the guidance of a Cleveland 18-wheeler accident lawyer.

Causes of Large Truck Accidents

The most common causes of large truck accidents are:

  1. Driver error
  2. Vehicle braking issues
  3. Unfamiliarity with roads
  4. Roadway issues
  5. Driver fatigue
  6. Pressure on a driver from the carrier to complete trips faster
  7. Weather conditions
  8. Improper loading or overloading of large trucks

Most Common Defects in Truck Parts & Systems

Trucks rely on several complex systems. This complexity makes them different from your typical family vehicle, and it also means they require specialized training, education, and licensing to operate. Trucks must also be free of defective parts.

Common defects that can lead to severe accidents include:

  • Brakes: Braking systems on large vehicles are made up of many parts and connections, which makes them prone to defects.
  • Hydraulics: These hoses and pumps supply the necessary fluids throughout the truck. They ensure sound mechanical function in the vehicle.
  • Engines: Each component of a truck engine must be well-designed and built to avoid engine failure or control issues that can cause an accident.
  • Steering Systems: A trucker cannot control the truck or navigate roads without a functioning steering system.
  • Couplings or Hitches: When semi-truck cabs are connected to trailers, the two parts are connected by a hitch, also known as a coupling.
  • Tires: Tires are as essential to a truck as the engine. They are also prone to blowouts if not properly manufactured and maintained.

49 CFR Part 573 sets forth the responsibilities of motor vehicle and motor vehicle equipment manufacturers regarding safety-related defects and non-adherence with the federal vehicle safety standards. This law requires:

  • Manufacturers must keep lists of the owners, distributors, purchasers, and dealers using their parts so they can notify them of product recalls.
  • Defective motor vehicle equipment or equipment that doesn’t comply with regulations must be reported to the NHTSA.

Parties manufacturing, maintaining, and operating commercial trucks should understand these regulations and enforce compliance.

Determining Negligence in a Truck Accident

Determining negligence in a truck accident involves a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident. This process often requires the expertise of legal professionals and accident reconstruction experts. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Driver Error: Was the truck driver distracted, tired, or driving recklessly? Evidence such as logbooks, GPS data, and witness statements can be used to establish this.
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Did any mechanical issues contribute to the accident? Maintenance records can provide insights on this.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Did the driver or trucking company violate federal or state regulations? Violations could include things like hours-of-service rules or cargo loading standards.
  • Product Liability: The manufacturer could be held liable if a defective vehicle part contributed to the accident.

In Ohio, the motorist at fault for a truck accident is responsible for the other party’s damages. However, with truck accidents, things can get complicated, as multiple parties might bear some responsibility.

Ohio follows a “comparative negligence” standard, which “allows a person to recover damages as reduced by the person’s own percentage of negligence,” according to the Ohio Department of Insurance. If the court finds the victim is 10% at fault for the accident that injured them, their awarded damages would be reduced by 10%.

By consulting with an experienced 18-wheeler accident lawyer, accident victims can get help navigating the complexities they may face and build a strong compensation case.

How a Large Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You

If you’ve been involved in a truck accident due to a defective vehicle part, you may wonder what your next steps should be. The team at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy can help. We have extensive experience handling truck accident claims and can guide you through the complex legal process. We will investigate your accident, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and, if necessary, represent you in court.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident due to a defective part, don’t hesitate to reach out for legal help. Contact us today for a free consultation. We will fight tirelessly to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

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