Brake Failure: One of the Leading Causes of Truck Accidents | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Mechanical failure is a leading cause of truck accidents in this country. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), one of the most common – and deadly – type of mechanical failure that occurs in truck accidents is brake failure. In one study conducted by the DOT, almost 30 percent of all tractor trailer accidents were the result of the vehicle’s brakes failing.

In the State of Virginia’s Commercial Driver’s manual, there is an entire section regarding brakes on trucks, including the proper equipment required and the inspection and use of that equipment. Both federal and state law require all tractor trailers to have working brakes that stop the truck, as well as hold that stop. Federal law also requires the brake components to be built, installed, and maintained to prevent brake failure. And yet, as the DOT study shows, in almost one-third of truck accidents, that is exactly what happens.




Inadequate truck maintenance is often the reason why mechanical issues develop that cause a truck’s brakes to fail. These issues can include too thin brake pads, brakes which are covered with oil and/or grease, brakes that overheat, and worn tires.

There are multiple parties who are responsible for a tractor trailer’s maintenance and could be held legally responsible in the event of a crash. As stated above, the truck driver is responsible for inspecting his or her vehicle. Other people who may also be responsible if brakes fail on a truck, resulting in a truck crash, include the truck’s mechanic, the loading company, the company that owns the truck, and the company that manufacturers the brakes.

Accidents involving tractor trailers can be much more dangerous than other vehicle accidents. The size and weight of the trucks alone are enough to cause substantial damage to other vehicles in any kind of collision. Far too often, the injuries sustained by victims of tractor trailer accidents are severe ones, requiring months – if not years – of rehab and recovery.

If you have been injured in an accident involving a tractor trailer, contact a skilled Virginia truck accident attorney to find out what legal recourse you may have against the truck driver and any other parties who may be held responsible for your injuries. Our Va. personal injury firm also offers a free truck accident injury guide for accident victims. The guide covers topics such as the tactics used by truck companies to deny or reduce injury claims, common violations of trucking companies, and the difference between commercial truck insurance and other types of vehicle insurance.