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Defective Truck Brakes & Product Liability Claims: What You Need to Know

Defective Truck Brakes & Product Liability Claims: What You Need to KnowIn November of 2022, Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) recalled over 230,000 Western Star and Freightliner vehicles manufactured between 2016 and 2022. The recall is due to chemical corrosion that could affect the vehicles’ brake modulator valves, potentially resulting in Adaptive Cruise Control braking failures. And while these vehicles’ regular brakes were not affected by this issue, full system pressure on one wheel end during cruise control usage could cause uneven front axle braking and the heightened risk of collisions.

Specific vehicles affected by this braking issue include Model year 2017-2023 Freightliner New Cascadia vehicles, Model Year 2020-2022 Freightliner Business Class M2s, Model Year 2021-2022 Western Star 47X, and Model Year 2021-2022 Western Star 57X, among others.

Defective brakes fall under the product liability umbrella in terms of legal claims. It is possible to win significant compensation from such claims, depending on the accidents and injuries they cause.

How often do brakes fail?

Brakes are among vehicles’ most important safety features. Unfortunately, about one in 10 brakes fail during use due to factors such as:

  • Missing or faulty parts
  • Brake line corrosion
  • Damaged or worn brake pads or discs
  • Warped rotors

Some brake failure issues, such as worn brake pads or warped rotors, are the result of improper maintenance. However, if the brake line or the brakes themselves are compromised because of inherent or manufacturer defects, legal action is required.

Who is liable in a Chicago defective brake legal claim?

To establish liability in a faulty brake claim, the plaintiff and attorney must determine who is responsible for the defect. If the brakes were designed incorrectly and are therefore inherently dangerous, the fault lies with the designer. If the auto parts were designed correctly but manufactured in a way that makes them hazardous, the fault is with the manufacturer.

There are also instances when the distributor or retailer is liable in a faulty brake claim. For example, if a distributor knew the auto part was inherently hazardous or manufactured incorrectly but went ahead with the distribution, they are liable along with the designer or manufacturer. Retailers are also liable if they are aware of a product’s defects but continue selling said product.

Warning defects generally do not apply to faulty brakes unless there are specific installation or usage instructions that were not included in auto part packaging. If warnings were needed but not provided, the manufacturer or labeling company is liable on “failure to warn” grounds.

Strict liability can apply to a defective brake case if the manufacturer is at fault. The manufacturer did not provide the level of care necessary to produce safe brakes and is subsequently liable. In such cases, lawyers do not need to prove negligence, as the products are clearly defective and directly resulted in severe or fatal physical harm. However, negligence can also be used to create a product liability claim, as can breach of warranty. Brakes and all other products that experience function or performance issues within their warranties provide grounds for legal claims.

What damages can a plaintiff request in a faulty brake claim?

Brakes that fail because of an inherent or manufacturer-related defect can result in auto accidents or truck accidents that inflict serious injuries, such as:

Plaintiffs in defective brake cases can request economic and non-economic damages that compensate for monetary costs and psychological trauma related to the accident, respectively. Economic damages typically include medical costs, ongoing medical care such as prescription drugs and physical therapy, and lost wages. If the plaintiff can no longer work at the same capacity or at all because of their accident, they can request partial or full disability. Non-economic damages usually include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish. In the event of a disability or severe psychological trauma, non-economic damages can include loss of life enjoyment.

Should defective brakes cause fatalities, surviving family members can file wrongful death claims and request damages such as emergency medical care, loss of income, funeral and burial costs, loss of companionship, emotional distress, and loss of life enjoyment.

How long do I have to file a Chicago product liability claim?

Personal injury statutes of limitations vary by state. To file a defective brake claim in Illinois, the plaintiff and their attorney must do so within two years of the incident if injuries occurred. If the plaintiff wants to file a claim for property damage, they have five years to do so.

The state of Illinois also refers to a statute of repose for such lawsuits, which expires in the following scenarios:

  • 10 years from the first lease, sale, or delivery date of the product to the consumer
  • 12 years from the first lease, sale, or delivery date of the product by the seller

A plaintiff cannot collect damages if they made modifications to the brakes that prevented them from working correctly and safely.

If you were recently the victim of defective truck brakes and sustained injuries, contact a legal professional at your earliest convenience. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the less risk there is of the statute of limitations expiring and potentially resulting in a case dismissal. Your attorney reviews your case in exhaustive detail to determine if filing a claim is the best course and provides counsel and representation as needed if filing is the right avenue.

To schedule a free case evaluation, contact Gainsberg Law P.C. today. We represent clients injured by defective products throughout Chicago and Cook County. Call our office or complete our contact form today to request a free consultation.