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Braking Ability

Syracuse Lawyers Representing Victims of Truck Accidents

Commercial trucks weigh thousands of pounds and rely on intricate and complicated braking systems. Air brakes need compressed air to stop the vehicle. Inadequate braking ability is a common reason for commercial truck crashes. Federal and state laws regulate commercial trucks and their maintenance. Braking failures, whether caused by improper repairs or driver error, can result in accidental or fatal injuries. If you were injured in an accident caused by a commercial truck, contact the Syracuse truck accident attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano to discuss whether you may be able to recover damages in a lawsuit.

Braking Ability

“Braking ability” encompasses a truck driver’s individual ability to brake and maintain a safe distance, as well as the condition of the brakes themselves. Failure to brake in time can result in devastating injuries due to the speed, weight and size of commercial trucks. Brakes in commercial trucks may fail if a mechanic performed improper maintenance. Federal law requires truck drivers to evaluate their brakes prior to driving. Truck companies are also supposed to maintain their trucks and adequately record that maintenance. Truck brake that are not properly aligned or have other issues may cause the truck to jackknife, which occurs when the trailer moves out from the cab at a ninety-degree angle and crosses other lanes of traffic.

Often, truck braking accidents result in multiple victims, including drivers and passengers of smaller vehicles. When catastrophic or fatal injuries result, a truck driver’s insurance may be insufficient to cover the significant harm caused by the crash. Accordingly, a plaintiff’s lawyer may retain an accident reconstruction expert to determine all contributing causes to the accident. Other potentially responsible parties may include the trucking company, a third-party loading company, a mechanic, or a brake manufacturer.


In order to establish a truck driver’s negligence related to braking ability, you’ll need to show: (1) the truck driver owed you a duty to use reasonable care, (2) breach of the duty to use reasonable care, (3) causation, and (4) damages. A truck driver may breach the duty to use reasonable care in connection with braking ability by driving while distracted, drunk driving, misjudging the stopping distance, weaving, tailgating, speeding, overloading the truck, or failing to conduct the proper inspections before operating the truck. When a truck driver rides the brakes of a truck while travelling downhill for a long stretch, the brakes may malfunction from overheating.

Generally, trucks that are loaded heavier and travelling at a faster speed require a longer stopping distance. Poorly maintained or defective brakes can also increase the length of distance required to stop fully.

Trucking companies are supposed to maintain commercial insurance policies to provide greater coverage for accident victims than truck drivers’ policies do. They can be held indirectly liable under a theory of vicarious liability if an employee’s negligence causes injuries while the employee is in the course and scope of employment. However, trucking companies can also be held directly liable if an accident is caused by their failure to maintain the truck or if they negligently hire, train, or supervise an incompetent driver.

The load carried by a truck may affect the braking ability of the vehicle. Overloaded or improperly loaded trucks require greater stopping distances. If a third-party loader negligently overloads a truck such this impacts braking ability and contributes to an accident, the injured parties may be possible to hold the third-party loader accountable for damages.

Liability for Air Brake Failure

Multiple mechanisms guard against complete brake failures in trucks. However, brakes may fail when they are not adequately inspected or maintained. Air brakes that fail due to a mechanical malfunction or an improper adjustment may contribute to a truck accident. If the condition of the brakes caused a truck accident, you may be able to hold the truck brake manufacturer or a mechanic accountable for damages.

Consult a Syracuse Attorney

If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a truck accident, you may be able to sue to recover damages. You should consult the experienced lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano. We represent truck accident victims in Rochester, Syracuse, and other Upstate New York cities. These cities include Oswego, Lyons, Oneida, Cooperstown, Binghamton, Auburn, Canandaigua, Wampsville, Watertown, Ithaca, Utica, Elmira, Lowville and Herkimer. Call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form.

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