Interstate truckers drive hundreds of thousands of miles each year. Their trucks may be under tremendous strain, and they may suffer a lot of wear and tear. When a trucking company does not properly maintain its fleet of trucks, there is a great risk that one or more trucks will break down. When trucks break down on the road, the potential for injuries is huge. If you suspect that you were injured in a truck accident due to a mechanical malfunction, it is important to consult an experienced Chicago truck accident lawyer.Mechanical Malfunctions Cause Serious Crashes
All trucks are supposed to meet certain federal safety standards before their drivers take them on the road. Trucking companies must file maintenance records to show that their trucks are safe while out on the road. Commonly, malfunctions occur in connection with a truck's brakes, headlights, brake lights, steering, or tires.
Truck drivers are supposed to perform inspections of their trucks before setting off on a trip, and they may need to inspect during the trip, depending on the condition of the truck. Among other things, it is critical to check that the brakes and tires are in good working order. A sizeable percentage of truck accidents are results of brake failures. If you are hurt in a truck accident that was caused by a mechanical malfunction, a number of parties may bear some responsibility for contributing to the accident. Parties that may be responsible include the truck driver, the trucking company, or the brake manufacturer.
In order to hold the truck driver liable for a mechanical malfunction, you will need to show negligence. If a truck driver fails to conduct the inspections required by the FMCSA, and an accident occurs because of this failure, it is likely that the jury will find that there was negligence.
Holding the trucking company responsible may be accomplished in a few different ways. If inspecting the truck was a part of the truck driver's job duties, the trucking company may be held vicariously (indirectly) liable. A trucking company can also be directly liable for a mechanical malfunction if its own negligence contributed to the accident. For example, the trucking company is responsible for getting routine maintenance performed on its truck, so if it failed to do so, and over time the truck broke down, the trucking company may be responsible for that failure.
In some cases, a mechanical malfunction is a result of a defect in a component of the truck, such as the brakes or the tires. It may be possible to recover damages by suing the manufacturer in a product liability lawsuit. Generally, it is possible to hold manufacturers strictly liable in Illinois. Your attorney will need to prove an actionable defect (usually a design or manufacturing defect in a truck accident case), causation, and actual damages. If you are pursuing your claim under a theory of strict liability, you will not need to establish that the manufacturer's actions fell below a certain standard of care, as you would if you sued under a theory of negligence. This can be helpful for plaintiffs because it makes the elements of the claim simpler and easier to establish.Hire a Dedicated Truck Accident Attorney in the Chicago Area
If you suspect that you were injured due to a truck's mechanical malfunction, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney at our Chicago firm. Generally, truck manufacturers and trucking companies will muster huge resources to attempt to avoid liability, so it is important to retain an attorney who has experience in truck accident cases and is able to anticipate and properly counter the kinds of tactics that will be used by the defense. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, we represent accident victims in Chicago, Champaign, Quincy, Aurora, Rockford, and Springfield, as well as other areas of Cook, Adams, Sangamon, Champaign, Winnebago, and Kane Counties. You can call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525 for a free consultation.