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UPDATE: Santa Cruz Truck Accident On Highway 1 Caused By Brake Failure Leaving 14 People Injured

Nov 14, 2018

Santa Cruz Truck Accident: Big Rig Trucks Brakes Were Smoking and On Fire Before Crash On Highway 1 By River Street

 SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA (November 14, 2018) A tractor-trailer truck in Santa Cruz was involved in an accident and rammed into numerous vehicle on Highway 1 after its brakes apparently failed near River Street.

Police are saying that the Santa Cruz Truck Accident took place around 3:15 p.m. Santa cruz authorities are saying that the accident was either caused by mechanical failure or operator error.

The company that owned the truck was properly licensed but also had “numerous violations.” In total, 21 vehicles were involved in the pileup. The tractor trailer was going around 30 – 40 mph when witnesses are saying they saw smoke and fire coming from the truck’s brakes.

Firefighters and paramedics rushed to the scene of the accident in order to tend to the victims. At least three people were transported to the hospital with critical injuries.

Investigators were also looking to determine if the truck exceeded weight limit requirements. The fuel tank on the truck ruptured and the semi-truck as well as the vehicle in front of it caught fire.

An investigation into the cause of the Santa Cruz truck accident remains ongoing at this time.

Common Causes of Truck Brake Failures

Truck operators and the companies that hire them have a responsibility to make sure that their vehicles are well maintained. A fully loaded truck can weigh as much as 80,000 lbs and cause catastrophic injuries if it crashes. Here are just a few of the common reasons why a truck’s brakes may give out.

  • A number of companies disconnect the brakes on the tractor being pulled in order to save money on maintenance. This puts the full burden of braking on the front of the rig. Over time this can lead to excessive wear and cause a truck’s brakes to give out earlier than normal.

  • Overloaded trailers are another major problem. Truck companies have an incentive to load as much cargo as possible in their vehicle. But there are federal guidelines for how much cargo a truck can legally carry at any time. An overloaded trailer will make it more difficult for a truck to brake and wear out the brakes more quickly.

  • Brake imbalance may occur when one brake has to work harder than another. Ideally, all brakes should be used equally so that the force of braking is evenly distributed. Brake imbalance can cause brakes to lock up, overheat and catch fire.

Victim’s of truck accidents involving brake failure often sustain critical injuries. Traumatic brain injuries, bone fractures, internal trauma and spinal cord injuries are common even at lower speed accidents. A truck accident attorney can investigate everything that may have gone wrong in a brake failure. Any person that is injured may be entitled to significant financial compensation.

Liability In Truck Accidents

There are a number of entities that may face civil liability for the Santa Cruz truck accident that injured 14 people. There are numerous reports coming out that this company had a history of violations. It remains to be seen if this company based out of San Jose was taking adequate care of their trucks. Companies are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation to conduct periodic maintenance on their trucks.

A company may also be liable for a brake failure if the operator was negligent in using the brakes. For example, if a truck driver barely presses down on the brakes while going downhill this could cause them to overheat and fail. It’s not uncommon for brakes to catch fire when this occurs. A victim of a truck accident may be entitled to damages if they were injured. A truck accident attorney can help victims receive compensation for lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering. There are strict statute of limitations on your ability to file a claim so it’s important to act quickly.

Getting Help From A Truck Accident Attorney

We at West Coast Trial Lawyers extend our thoughts and prayers to all of the victims of this Santa Cruz truck accident. There needs to be a thorough investigation into the company that this truck belongs to. Someone could have easily been killed. Steps need to be put in place to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. Company’s must do everything in their power to keep up their vehicles and train their drivers well. It is deeply unfortunate that so many businesses give a greater priority to their profit margin than public safety.

If you or someone that you love has been injured in a truck accident caused by a brake failure you may have legal recourse. Our team of highly experienced personal injury attorneys are here to help you with whatever you need. We’ve been helping families across California for over 40 years. We can investigate your claim and take action to make sure that your rights are being preserved. Whether you just have questions about your rights or are looking to get a police report after an accident we are here for you. You can reach us anytime at (888) 888-9285.


  1. Michael Todd. Highway 1 cleared after 21-vehicle pileup. November 14, 2018.
  2. DOT. TMC Recommended Practice TP 1409 – Brake Fluid Maintenance Guidelines. 2018
  3. Hogan. Truck Accident: Why Truck Brakes Fail. November 14, 2018

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