Keefe Law Firm recently settled a case on behalf of a client who was the driver in a catastrophic, single tractor-trailer accident, suffering life-altering head injuries. Plaintiff was married with seven children at the time. He was hired by a transport company to haul a load of construction debris, but unfortunately the transport company provided him with a very unsafe tractor-trailer to drive for them. The truck failed in nearly every measure of safety, and it should never have been on the road. Unbeknownst to the Plaintiff, the transport company put him in a truck that was an accident waiting to happen. The Plaintiff wasn’t sure he had a case because there were no other vehicles involved in the accident.
John E. Gregory, Jr., a New Jersey truck accident attorney of the firm vigorously investigated the situation, and hired experts to find a long list of safety violations, before successfully resolving the case on behalf of the Plaintiff.
The tractor-trailer accident occurred while the client drove west along Route 17 in Hancock Village, New York. As the client negotiated his truck into a turn along Route 17, the braking system on the tractor-trailer failed and the truck turned on its side, skidding hundreds of feet down the highway. Unfortunately, responding emergency personnel had to extricate plaintiff from the tractor-trailer and he suffered debilitating head injuries as a result. The New York Commercial Vehicle Inspection Unit investigated the accident and determined the cause of the accident to be defendant transport company’s failure to properly maintain the truck plaintiff was driving.
The cause of this crash was the result of extremely poor or completely non-existent maintenance of the subject tractor-trailer and the actions/inactions of the transport company that hired plaintiff in as much as they allowed an unsafe commercial vehicle that possessed numerous out of service violations to be operated on the roadways. For example, the different sized brake chambers on axle 1 left and right, which were not compatible, the defective brake on axle 2 right and inoperative brake on axle 5 left and the flat tire on axle 4 left inner and under-inflated tire on axle 4 outer combined to create a serious and dangerous braking imbalance to the truck. Also, exacerbating the braking imbalance was the loose torque rod located toward the rear of the trailer which created an instability in the suspension system which caused the truck to deviate from the path Plaintiff was intending to maintain. The imbalanced braking caused the truck to be pulled to the right and the instability to the suspension system caused by the loose torque rod along with the overweight load exacerbated the braking imbalance resulting in the truck jack knifing and overturning onto its left side and sliding for approximately 200 feet before coming to final rest.
Notably, Plaintiff’s expert offered an opinion that defendant transport company failed to maintain the tractor-trailer in a safe and operating condition as evidenced by many instances of violations of federal and state law. These failures directly led to plaintiff’s accident. For example, plaintiff’s expert noted the following specific violations of law: (1) defendant failed to comply with Federal Bridge Law 23-CFR658 and NYS Vehicle Traffic Law 385 by requiring / permitting plaintiff to operate Interstate an overweight tractor / trailer (by 7,720 lb.); (2) defendant failed to comply with 49 CFR, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation 396.1, 396.3 and 396.7 by not inspecting and not maintaining the 1999 Summit trailer, license #T41D6J, in safe and proper operating condition; (3) defendant failed to comply with 49 CFR, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation 393.42 and 49 CFR, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 571.121 by requiring / permitting Antonio Teixeira to operate Interstate a tractor /trailer with an imbalanced brake system; (4) defendant failed to comply with 49 CFR, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation 393.47(b) by having brake chambers on each end of axle 1 that were mismatched; 393.48(a) by having inoperative or defective brakes on axle 2; and 396.3(a)(1) by having brakes out of adjustment on axles 2, 4 and 5.; (5) defendant failed to comply with 49 CFR, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation 393.75 by having a flat tire and an under-inflated tire on axle 4; and 393.207 by having loose torque rod bushings between axles 4 and 5, both sides; (6) defendant failed to comply with 49 CFR, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation 396.3 by failing to inspect / repair / maintain the 1996 Kenworth tractor and the 1999 Summit trailer.
In short, an irresponsible transport company put Plaintiff on the highway in an unsafe tractor-trailer endangering not only Plaintiff but the rest of our community at large. There are too many irresponsible transport companies and tractor-trailer companies failing to comply with important federal safety law, endangering our loved ones every day.