What You Should Know About Defective Truck Parts

Defective Truck PartsLarge commercial trucks are vital to North Dakota’s and the American economy, transporting goods across vast distances. However, their immense size and weight also pose a significant risk on the road. When a truck malfunctions, the consequences can be catastrophic. While it’s true that driver error can sometimes be a factor, there are also risks with the complex machinery of these vehicles – defective parts.

Product liability law holds manufacturers and distributors accountable for injuries caused by defective products. With truck accidents, this can apply to a wide range of components, from faulty brakes and steering systems to malfunctioning tires and cargo securement devices. Here’s how it works:

  • Strict liability: Unlike other personal injury claims that require proving negligence, dangerous product claims often fall under “strict liability.” This means the injured party doesn’t have to prove the manufacturer knew the part was defective – only that the defect existed and caused the accident.
  • Burden of proof: The burden of proof shifts to the manufacturer to demonstrate the product was not defective or that the defect did not cause the accident.

Common defective truck parts and their dangers

Commercial trucks have a variety of mechanical systems and moving parts that can be defective, including:

  • Brakes: Faulty brakes are one of the leading causes of truck accidents. This can involve malfunctioning anti-lock braking systems (ABS), faulty brake lines, or worn-out brake pads. A fully loaded truck takes significantly longer to stop than a car, making a complete brake failure especially dangerous.
  • Steering systems: Loss of steering control for a massive truck is a disaster. Defective components like tie rods, ball joints, or power steering units can cause the truck to veer off course or become unresponsive to driver actions, potentially leading to head-on collisions or rollovers.
  • Tires: Blowouts are a frequent occurrence with commercial trucks, but defective tires significantly increase the risk. This could be due to faulty tire design, manufacturing flaws, improper maintenance, or age-related wear. Tire tread separation or a sudden loss of air pressure can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
  • Wheels and rims: Cracked or broken wheels can lead to a complete loss of control, especially on uneven terrain. Improperly manufactured or maintained wheels can also detach from the axle, causing a catastrophic accident. This risk is heightened with overloaded trucks exceeding weight limits.
  • Cargo securement: Improperly secured cargo can shift during transit, causing the entire truck to become unbalanced or even overturn. This can be due to faulty tie-downs, latches, or other cargo securement systems failing to hold the load in place. Loose cargo on the highway can also become dangerous projectiles for other vehicles.
  • Lighting systems: Malfunctioning headlights, taillights, or turn signals can significantly reduce visibility, especially at night or during bad weather. This can lead to rear-end collisions or make it difficult for other drivers to judge a truck’s position and movements.
  • Engine and transmission: While less common, engine or transmission failures can also cause accidents. Sudden loss of power while driving uphill or on a highway can leave the truck vulnerable to rear-end collisions or create a hazard for passing vehicles.

Remember, this is not an exhaustive list, and any malfunctioning component in a truck can pose a danger. Truck companies should perform regular inspections and proper maintenance to prevent accidents caused by defective parts.

Who is responsible for a truck accident caused by a defective part?

A manufacturer is responsible for ensuring their parts are designed, manufactured, and tested to meet federal safety standards. If a defect exists that causes an accident, they can be held liable for the resulting damages. While the manufacturer of the defective part is usually the defendant in a dangerous product lawsuit or claim, others in the supply chain may also be held liable.

  • Distributors and wholesalers: If a distributor or wholesaler knowingly sells a defective part, they may share some of the liability with the manufacturer. They have a responsibility to ensure the parts they sell are safe for their intended use.
  • The truck manufacturer: In some cases, the company that assembled the truck may also be liable. This could occur if they installed a known defective part or failed to properly assemble the vehicle, leading to a malfunction that caused the accident.
  • The trucking company: Trucking companies have a legal duty to maintain their vehicles in a safe operating condition. This includes regular inspections and preventative maintenance programs. If the company fails to identify or address a potential defect, it may be held liable for any accident it causes.

Pinpointing who is responsible for a truck accident caused by a defective part requires a thorough investigation. Here are some factors our Minot attorneys take into consideration:

  • The specific defect:The nature of the defect and how it malfunctioned plays a big role. Expert analysis is often needed to determine the cause of the defect and how it led to the accident.
  • Maintenance records:The trucking company’s maintenance records will be examined to see if they followed proper inspection procedures and addressed any prior warnings or signs of a potential defect.
  • Part recall history:Checking if the specific part involved in the accident was ever recalled by the manufacturer due to a known defect can strengthen your case.
  • Driver actions:While a defective part is the primary focus, the truck driver’s actions may also be considered. For example, if the driver was speeding or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may share some of the liability.

How our Minot dangerous product attorneys can help you with your lawsuit

Here’s what you can expect from our attorneys if you’ve been injured in a truck accident caused by a defective part:

  • Evidence collection: It’s important to preserve evidence for your case. This includes police reports, accident scene photos, medical records, and any information about the defective part. Our Minot injury lawyers can help you with this.
  • Expert testimony: Expert witnesses are often needed to analyze the failed part and determine the cause of the defect. Medical professionals will also document your injuries and their connection to the accident.
  • Negotiation and litigation: Our experienced personal injury attorneys can negotiate with the manufacturer’s insurance company for a fair settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, we will take your case to trial.

If you or a loved one were injured and you suspect a defective part may be to blame, contact the experienced Minot truck accident attorneys at Larson Law Firm today for a free consultation. We understand the devastating consequences of these accidents and the complexities of product liability claims. To schedule a meeting with an experienced attorney, call our offices or fill out our contact form today. We handle accident cases on a contingency fee basis – meaning we don’t get paid until you do. We maintain additional offices in Bismarck and Fargo.