When the Worst Happens, It’s Important to Contact a Columbus 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer
Large commercial trucks, often referred to as 18-wheelers and big rigs, are large, heavy and hard to stop. Unfortunately, many truck drivers are not well-equipped to avoid accidents on the road; and, as a result, truck accidents are far too common. But, big rig trucks are even more dangerous when they suffer from maintenance issues or defects. Just like truck driving mistakes, truck maintenance issues and defects can take many different forms. Additionally, just as truck drivers have a duty to avoid dangerous mistakes behind the wheel, truck manufacturers and trucking companies have a duty to avoid putting dangerous trucks on the road. But, these factors are still frequently to blame for truck accidents, and accident victims will have claims against truck manufacturers and trucking companies in many cases. A Columbus 18-wheeler accident lawyer will evaluation your accident for free and outline your best options for compensation.
Commercial Truck Classifications Based on Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
In addition to classifying trucks by their design and use, it is also possible to classify trucks based on their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Based on this metric, there are eight “Classes” of commercial trucks in three categories:
Class 1: Commercial trucks with a GVWR of 0 to 6,000 pounds
Class 2: Commercial trucks with a GVWR of 6,001 to 10,000 pounds
Class 3: Commercial trucks with a GVWR of 10,001 to 14,000 pounds
Class 4: Commercial trucks with a GVWR of 14,001 to 16,000 pounds
Class 5: Commercial trucks with a GVWR of 16,001 to 19,500 pounds
Class 6: Commercial trucks with a GVWR of 19,501 to 26,000 pounds
Class 7: Commercial trucks with a GVWR of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds
Class 8: Commercial trucks with a GVWR of greater than 33,001 pounds—including all tractor-trailers
All commercial trucks with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds (i.e., all medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks) are subject to safety regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Compliance with these regulations is crucial for preventing unnecessary risks on the road.
Unfortunately, many trucking companies do not comply with the FMCSA’s requirements. In fact, non-compliance is so prevalent that the FMCSA maintains a list of the most common violations. Our Columbus big rig accident lawyers regularly see these issues with all types of commercial trucks; and, in many cases, we are able to use trucking companies’ FMCSA safety violations to help prove our clients’ claims for just compensation.
Common Big Rig Maintenance Issues
Virtually all components of a large commercial truck require regular maintenance to ensure that the truck is as safe as possible. This includes everything from the truck’s engine and transmission to its wiper blades and brake lights. Some examples of common maintenance issues that can cause (or contribute to causing) truck accidents include:
- Failure to replace brake pads or brake rotors
- Failure to replace broken mirrors and other safety equipment
- Failure to replace burnt-out headlights, taillights, brake lights, or indicator lights
- Failure to replace worn tires or tire retreads
- Failure to replace worn wiper blades or cracked windshields
- Failure to service the truck’s engine and transmission at regular intervals
- Failure to service the truck’s coupling device (which connects the tractor to the trailer) and other components
Defects That Impact 18-Wheelers
In addition to maintenance issues, trucks can also suffer from defects. While maintenance issues occur when trucking companies fail to take care of their vehicles, defects happen when truck manufacturers come up with poor designs or use poor manufacturing processes.
Many different types of truck defects can lead to accidents on the road. This includes common defects such as:
- Brake pads, rotors and lines
- Coupling devices
- Electrical system components
- Engine and transmission components
- Frame and suspension components
- Fuel system components
- Safety equipment
- Steering column components
- Wheels and tires
Trucking Companies Have a Duty to Maintain Their Vehicles
Under federal law, trucking companies have a duty to maintain their vehicles in a safe condition. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has adopted maintenance and inspection regulations that trucking companies must follow. But, despite the fact that compliance is mandatory, it is clear that many trucking companies do not do what is required. For example, the following safety violations are all common:
- Failure to regularly inspect commercial trucks
- Failure to hire qualified inspectors
- Failure to conduct regularly scheduled maintenance
- Failure to make necessary repairs
- Failure to keep adequate maintenance records
- Failure to require drivers to conduct pre-trip safety inspections
- Failure to require drivers to conduct inspections during stops en route
Who Is Liable When a Truck Maintenance Issue or Defect Causes a Big Rig Accident?
Who is responsible if you were seriously injured in an 18-wheeler accident caused by a maintenance issue or defect? The answer to this question depends on whether a maintenance issue or defect was to blame.
If a truck maintenance issue was to blame, then the trucking company is most likely to be responsible. While it can be helpful to prove that the trucking company violated an FMCSA regulation, proof of a violation is not necessary to file a claim.
If a truck defect was to blame, then the truck manufacturer is most likely to be responsible. Truck manufacturers have a legal duty to avoid selling defective vehicles. So, if the issue that caused your accident existed when the truck left the factory, then the manufacturer may be fully responsible.
Factors That Determine Your Legal Rights After a Serious Accident with a Large Truck
In the case of a serious truck accident, determining your legal rights can be challenging. But, it is also extremely important, as filing a successful claim can be critical to your physical recovery and your long-term financial wellbeing. When you hire a lawyer to handle your truck accident claim, your lawyer will assess factors including:
- Whether a truck maintenance issue or defect was to blame
- Whether truck driver negligence also played a role in the crash
- Whether the trucking company or truck manufacturer is likely to blame you for playing a role in the crash
- The location and extent of the damage to each vehicle involved
- The nature and severity of your injuries
- What evidence is available to prove the cause (or causes) of your truck accident
- What insurance coverage is available to cover your losses
Reasons to Hire a Columbus 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer After a Crash
As a truck accident victim in Ohio, it is extremely important to have an experienced lawyer on your side. When you hire a truck accident lawyer at Malek & Malek Law Firm to represent you, your lawyer will:
1. Do What is Necessary to Preserve Your Legal Rights
From gathering evidence at the scene of the accident to ensuring that you get the medical care you need, there are several steps involved in protecting your legal rights. Your lawyer can guide you through all of the necessary steps for maximizing your financial recovery.
2. Calculate the Financial and Non-Financial Costs of Your Truck Accident
If the trucking company or truck manufacturer is liable for your accident, you are entitled to just compensation for your financial and non-financial losses. You will need to rely on your lawyer’s knowledge and insights to calculate just compensation for your current and future lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other losses.
3. Fight to Recover Just Compensation on Your Behalf
Finally, regardless of the facts of your truck accident, the trucking company or trucking manufacturer isn’t going to pay without a fight. To win the compensation you deserve, you will need an experienced attorney on your side.
Talk to a Lawyer About Your Accident Claim for Free
To learn more about protecting your legal rights after a truck accident caused by maintenance issues or defects, contact us now for a free, no-obligation consultation. Call 888-444-7440 or tell us how we can reach you online to speak with an 18-wheeler accident lawyer as soon as possible.