Brake failure is the leading cause of truck accidents. According to a report by the Department of Transportation, about thirty percent of truck crashes in the United States are due to brake failures. Accidents involving a commercial truck, or a tractor-trailer, can have disastrous consequences. Its gigantic size and weight, more than 30000 pounds, enhance the risk of severe injuries and fatalities in a collision manifold. These will most likely be passenger vehicle occupants.

That makes it ever so vital for truck owners and operators to ensure that the brake systems are functioning effectively at all times, as they serve as the most crucial safety feature for truck drivers to avoid accidents and save lives.

Causes of Brake Failure

When a truckโ€™s braking system fails to function, there is no good way to stop it and prevent a catastrophe from occurring, no matter how professional or alert the driver is. Compared with a passenger vehicle, the stopping distance for a commercial truck is significantly longer due to its massive weight, and even the slightest delay in slowing down or coming to a stop can lead to a devastating crash.

Brakes do not fail for no reason. Being aware of the primary causes of brake failures and addressing them can help prevent truck accidents and their deadly consequences.

Poor Maintenance

A truckโ€™s brakes are put through a lot of work each day as they bring thousands of pounds of the tractor-trailer to a halt several times every few hours. Accordingly, performing regular inspections and maintaining the brakes is an indispensable aspect of keeping the braking system in good working order. As mentioned at, federal regulations dictate that trucking companies and operators must systematically inspect and maintain the truckโ€™s components, including its brakes.

With that said, some companies try to save operating costs by putting off maintenance and repairs and overlooking minor issues, as they only make money when the truck is out on the roads. Every minute the vehicle spends off the road is money lost. Accordingly, it is no surprise that trucking companies delay essential maintenance or repair tasks for as long as possible.

Lack of Front Brakes

Some truck owners depower or disconnect the front brakes on the tractor to minimize the expense of brake maintenance and tire wear. But doing so leaves the trailer brakes with the excessive burden of slowing and stopping the truck since the tractor does not contribute to the braking.

Brake Imbalance

Applying a set of brakes on a truck harder than others can cause them to overheat, especially when applying them while going downhill. Brake imbalance could also occur due to using mismatched mechanical components.

Overloaded Trailer

Regardless of how well-maintained a truck or how good its condition is, pulling excessive weight will require longer braking distances that will place additional stress on its brakes. That enhances the probability of a brake failure, especially in situations that demand hard braking or when combined with other factors like poor maintenance or wet or icy roads.

Who is Liable for Truck Brake Failure?

Determining who is legally responsible for a truck accident caused by brake failure is not straightforward. Multiple parties may be potentially liable for the crash and injuries sustained. These include:

Truck Driver

As the person operating the vehicle, the driver has the most responsibility to ensure safety. A trucker driving under the influence, speeding, or driving while distracted or fatigued means that they are at fault for the accident and the damage due to it.

Trucking Company

If the driver operates the brakes appropriately, but a malfunction due to poor maintenance or faulty repair job causes the crash, the trucking company or a third-party maintenance company must bear full responsibility. Appropriately, a victim files a negligence claim against them to seek compensation.

Truck Load Crew

If a truck exceeds its weight limit and is overloaded with cargo which impedes its ability to brake effectively and stop, the loading crew or cargo handlers should be held liable.


A brake manufacturer can be held liable for an inherent design or manufacturing error in their product. Some companies also seek to increase their profits by using less or cheaper materials but only at the cost of the safety of drivers. That enhances the likelihood of the brake system failing at some point, risking the lives of others on the road.

If the truckโ€™s brake design or manufacture is the primary cause of the brake failure, the victim may pursue a product liability claim against the manufacturer.

Victim of a Truck Accident? A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Trucking companies and operators have the ultimate responsibility to ensure the safe performance of their vehicles while out on the roadways. Failure to fulfill this obligation exposes them to severe legal repercussions.

Due to the massive impact from the trailer, the injuries resulting from an accident involving a large truck can be life-altering. If you have been hurt in a truck accident, you may be entitled to receive compensation for damages incurred.

It is imperative to reach out to an experienced truck accident attorney who will help file a personal injury claim and strive to hold those responsible accountable, all while securing you the compensation you deserve.

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