Articles Posted in Poor Truck Maintenance

Semi-trucks present a serious danger to the other motorists with whom they share the road. Between a truck’s large size, increased stopping distance, and inability to be quickly maneuvered, there are many concerns that a semi-truck driver must keep in mind every time they get into the cab. One concern that is too often overlooked by both truck drivers and trucking companies is whether the truck has been properly loaded with the cargo it is carrying.

Logging TruckSemi-trucks routinely carry many tons of cargo. While the trucks themselves are equipped to tow fully loaded trailers if they are properly loaded, if a trailer is not properly loaded, there is an increased chance that the cargo can shift, causing the truck driver to lose control of the vehicle. The same is true of overloaded trucks. The importance of properly loading a trailer increases when the cargo being loaded is especially unwieldy, large, or of uneven weight.

If a truck driver or trucking company fails to take the necessary precautions loading the trailer, and an accident is caused as a result, both the truck driver and the trucking company may be held liable for any injuries that were caused. Anyone injured in a New Mexico truck accident should consult with a dedicated attorney as soon as possible to discuss the rights they may have.

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When an individual has been injured due to the negligence of a truck driver, the injured person or their family will often incur a series of costly medical expenses. In many situations, insurance companies do not fully cover the costs associated with the medical care and ongoing expenses as well as the detriments that the injured party suffered. These victims may try and pursue a case against the negligent truck driver, but in certain situations the company that employs the negligent truck driver may be the party mainly responsible for the accident — or at least be partially responsible.

Truck DriverTruck drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers on the road, mainly because of the sheer magnitude of their vehicles and the disastrous impact an accident can have. Trucking companies are mandated by federal regulations to ensure that their truckers are licensed to drive commercial vehicles and are trained properly, and they need to ensure that their trucks are in proper working order. However, there are, of course, situations in which trucking companies fail to comply with the aforementioned requirements, and as a result an accident occurs.

Trucking companies are supposed to ensure that their drivers know how to control the vehicle they are driving. This means that they should be given specific training and taught safety precautions in relation to the truck they will be operating. Additionally, trucking companies are supposed to make sure that the drivers keep log books of their travel time. In fact, there are federally mandated rules that regulate the amount of time that truck drivers are allowed to drive without a break. The trucking companies need to ensure that their drivers are complying with this requirement. When truck drivers push their own limits, there are serious consequences, such as driver fatigue and inattention. Furthermore, although truck drivers are responsible to periodically inspect their vehicles, the trucking company has the duty of ensuring that such inspections actually occur and that the truck driver fixes any problems with the truck.

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In nearby Bell County, Texas, a fire truck and pickup truck were involved in a serious accident after each of the vehicles hydroplaned. Both accidents happened on FM 429. According to a firefighter-oriented newspaper, the fire truck hydroplaned, rolled over, and then proceeded to slam into a tree. Apparently, the pickup driver suffered a very similar fate, when the truck hydroplaned, hit the fire truck, and rolled off the road.

firefighters-1099588-m.jpgThe local news reports indicated that four people in the fire truck were stuck inside, while another was thrown from the truck. The firefighter who was ejected from the truck remains in serious condition. The other firefighters were stuck so badly in the truck that hydraulic tools were necessary to extract them from the vehicle. Two individuals who were traveling in the pickup truck were also taken to the hospital as a result of their injuries. In an ironic and unfortunate twist, the ambulance that was dispatched to assist at the scene of the accident was also involved in a crash.

Preventing Hydroplaning and Avoiding Accidents
Many people do not fully understand the dangers of driving when there is inclement weather. It is important for drivers, and especially trucks and those vehicles carrying passengers, to take all measures to avoid hydroplaning. Hydroplaning can be avoided if drivers take preventative measures before and while they are driving in the rain or snow.
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A local New Mexican online newspaper reported that an Arizona man died when he was driving in Eddy County, New Mexico. The State Police representatives explained that the 60 year-old semi-truck driver was driving south of Loving when the accident occurred late last week in the early morning hours.

semi-truck-1-232051-m.jpgApparently, the truck driver’s vehicle approached a curve and he was unable to maintain control. After reaching the curve, he proceeded onto the shoulder. His semi-truck began to roll after it fell into the ditch. No one else was injured in the accident. The New Mexico State Police have indicated that the crash is still under investigation; however, as of the most recent report, no charges have been brought.

Truck Driving Accidents in New Mexico
Although most people are aware of the severity of damage and injury to those involved in trucking accidents, it is probably surprising to note the frequency of these types of accidents. Since the oil boom in New Mexico and Texas, there has been an increasing number of trucking accidents and a higher percentage of fatalities. A trucking accident is defined as an accident where a trailer that weights about 10,000 or more crashes with other drivers, pedestrians, or stationary objects.
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A Texas tractor-trailer driver who was killed in an accident in Long Island several weeks ago has been identified. According to news reports, the man was driving a flatbed tractor trailer for a freight company when the accident occurred at around 4:30 p.m. Apparently, the individual accidentally entered the parkway and then tried to brake to avoid the overpass. It seems that he was trying to avoid the overpass because he likely did not think that his truck would fit underneath it. However, police have stated that it seems that his truck would have probably made it through if he remained in the middle lane.

highway-and-overpass-32229-m.jpgUnfortunately, the driver quickly applied the brakes on his truck, but the force of the applied brakes caused the steel he was carrying to shift. The steel ended up crushing the driver, and he was killed. The police did not report any injuries to other drivers or pedestrians, but the parkway was closed for several hours.

Truck Fatalities in New Mexico
All traffic accidents have the potential to result in serious bodily or property damage, but with trucking accidents that likelihood is exponentially increased. Often, the magnitude of the truck, the load it is carrying, and the fatigue of long travel times can result in a particularly dangerous situation.
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An unfortunate man from Denver City, Texas was killed earlier this month after a brake drum fell off an oncoming semi-truck and crashed through the windshield of the pickup truck that he was driving. According to an article from KOB.com, the man was traveling on State Road 8 between Eunice and Hobbs in Lea County. The driver of the white semi-truck that the drum fell from did not stop after the accident and is being sought by the police for questioning. It is not known why the brake drum was able to fall from the truck.

brake-drum-866593-m.jpgDetermining Blame in the Accident
Although it can difficult to directly assign blame for a New Mexico semi-truck accident, it is nearly certain that the victim driving in the pickup truck in this case was not to blame. Since the semi-truck driver did not stop to assist the man or explain what happened to police, it may be difficult for the victim’s family to hold the responsible parties accountable for the accident. If the driver of the truck is not found, the victim’s relatives may still be able to receive compensation for their expenses and loss resulting from the accident, but it depends on the type of auto insurance that the man had.
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A chain reaction car accident involving nine vehicles left a five-year-old girl dead and 13 other people injured in Los Angeles County early last Thursday morning. The pile-up involved two semi-trucks and a tanker truck loaded with milk, as well as six other vehicles, two of which caught fire.

crashed-car-921217-m 15-43-51.jpgAccording to a KPCR public radio report, the accident was caused when the tanker truck was unable to react in time to a sudden traffic slowdown on the 60 freeway at Santa Anita Avenue and crashed into several vehicles in front of it. This caused the driver to steer his truck into the center divider, where it came to a stop on top of the center divider wall. According to authorities, the wreckage from the accidents spanned across 200 yards of the eastbound lanes of the 60 freeway in South El Monte.

The Differences Between Semi-Truck Brakes and Regular Car Brakes Increases the Danger of Accidents
Semi-trucks are designed to carry freight long distances across our country, and they most commonly travel on interstate highways or large state highways. Since the rigs are designed to carry more weight for longer distances at faster speeds than standard automobiles, the brake systems in semi-trucks use different technology than that used in cars and small trucks or SUVs.
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A California couple and the woman’s teenage son were driving from Vacaville, California to Houston, Texas to start a new life together when they were involved in an accident early in the morning on May 5 near Gallup, New Mexico. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, the car was being driven by a 38-year-old woman. Her 28-year-old boyfriend was in the passenger seat, and her 15-year-old son was asleep in the back seat when they were rear-ended by a semi-truck. The accident was so violent that the car rolled onto its roof and burst into flames. The man and woman were killed on the scene, but the teenager luckily suffered only minor injuries.

idyllic-autumn-street-scenery-1367912-m.jpgThe Dangers of Semi-Trucks on the Highway
The cause of this month’s accident is still under investigation, but it appears from the article that the truck driver either did not see the couple’s car or was unable to slow down to avoid the collision. Semi-trucks often carry heavy and large loads at high speeds, and semi-trucks are not always able to stop as quickly as other vehicles. If a semi-truck is following another vehicle too closely, and the front vehicle slows or comes to a stop, the truck may not be able to stop as quickly as the other vehicle, and the results can be devastating. This danger is increased if the semi or trailer has not been properly serviced.

Poor Maintenance Can Cause a Disaster
Many New Mexico semi-truck accidents are caused by poorly maintained trucks. Semi-trucks can travel tens or even hundreds of thousands of miles each year, and they must be maintained to the highest standards of safety to protect the public. Unfortunately, this standard of safety is not always met. Often, the tractor and trailer portions of a truck are maintained separately, and maintenance reports are not always kept properly. Each axle of a tractor trailer is designed to have functioning brakes, but it is easy for a truck driver or maintenance technician to overlook problems in the braking system, which can prevent the truck from stopping quickly enough. The brakes may appear to function properly when the trailer is empty or on flat ground, but when a semi-truck has a full payload or is traveling downhill, it is much harder to stop. A simple mistake or oversight can be deadly.
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Earlier this week in Phoenix, several gas cylinders fell off of a flatbed truck, leading to the death of a motorcyclist. According to a report by AZFamily.com, the improperly secured load fell off the truck shortly after 3 p.m. on January 20th. Once the tanks fell off the bed of the trailer, a Chevrolet Suburban following the truck braked to avoid the tanks. In response, a motorcycle braked so as to not hit the rear end of the Suburban. A semi-truck that was following the motorcycle slammed into the back of the motorcycle, sending it into the Suburban.

untitled-1410512-m.jpgAt some point during the accident, the tanks exploded, engulfing both the motorcycle and the semi-truck in flames. The motorcyclist was taken to the hospital, but was not able to recover from his injuries. He died at the hospital. The semi-truck driver was able to crawl out of the burning truck and suffered only minor injuries.

Police are still investigating the accident. The driver of the flatbed truck either did not know that the tanks fell off the truck, or knowingly continued on without stopping to render aid. Because of this possibility, the accident is being investigated as a homicide.
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file2171235003920 morguefile username wallyir.jpgA Texas jury has awarded the family of an oil worker who was killed by an allegedly improperly maintained tractor-trailer $281 million. In Estate of Carlos Aguilar v. Heckmann Water Resources et. al., the family of Army veteran Carlos Aguilar filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Heckmann Water Resources, Inc. and a big rig driver in connection with a May 2012 Eagle Ford Shale accident that resulted in Aguilar’s untimely death. According to the lawsuit, Aguilar was riding as a passenger in a pick-up truck traveling on FM 133 in Dimmitt County when the drive shaft of a Heckmann Water Resources truck suddenly broke off, flew through the windshield of the passenger vehicle, and struck Aguilar. Sadly, the force of the trauma killed Aguilar.

At trial, Aguilar’s family argued that the fatal incident occurred as a result of Heckmann Water Resources’ failure to properly maintain the 18-wheeler. Although jurors stated the tractor-trailer driver was not responsible for the accident, they determined the company itself committed negligence. As a result, the Dimmitt County jury issued an award of $181 million in compensatory and $100 million in punitive damages. In general, punitive damages are awarded to punish especially egregious behavior or to discourage similar behavior in the future. The parent company of Heckmann Water Resources, Arizona-based Nuverra Environmental Solutions, has stated it plans to appeal the jury’s verdict.

Despite the $281 million jury verdict, the trucking company’s liability insurance is reportedly only $16 million. In general, trucking companies operating in New Mexico carry at least $1 million in insurance coverage. As this case shows, however, truck accident victims or their survivors may incur significantly higher damages. Because of this, a tractor-trailer crash victim may have the ability to recover damages by way of a trucking company’s assets in addition to any payments made through a liability insurance policy.
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