Articles Posted in Semi Truck Accidents

When driving on a busy road, it is always wise to leave enough space between yourself and the vehicle in front of you—especially if the vehicle in front of you is a large semi-truck or tractor-trailer. Leaving space can often help you prevent accidents from taking place with the vehicle in front of you but can also give you enough time and space to swerve out of the way if the vehicle stops suddenly or breaks down. Because truck accidents can often result in devastating accidents, remaining aware of the dangers that come with their size and operation on the road is crucial for any driver’s safety.

According to a recent news report, a tractor-trailer crashed into a Maine Turnpike truck that was parked in the breakdown lane with its amber blinker lights flashing. The driver and passenger of the Turnpike truck had exited the vehicle to retrieve construction signs that were on the road. The tractor-trailer drifted into the breakdown lane and hit a rumble strip, and then side-swiped the Turnpike truck. The driver and passenger of the Turnpike truck were able to safely move out of the way into a nearby ditch, safely out of the way. The driver of the tractor-trailer was treated for minor injuries at a nearby hospital. Debris that flew up from the accident injured a nearby worker, who was transported to a local hospital to also be treated for minor injuries.

In Maine, although trucks only make up 4.7 percent of all vehicles, accidents involving trucks and similar vehicles can often be devastating. Truck accidents can often lead to fatalities or severe injuries or property damage following a collision, so it is crucial that drivers understand the risks.

Although there are various dangers on our roads, trucks are responsible for a significant number of them. Being more susceptible to accidents because of their larger size and weight compared to average passenger vehicles, trucks can often put even the most experienced drivers on high alert. Of the various ways you could be involved in a significant accident with a truck, Maine truck underride collisions may be one of the most deadly and horrific.

A truck underride collision occurs when a regular passenger vehicle like a sedan or even an SUV crashes into a semi-truck or other large multi-wheeler vehicle and then slides under the truck. When the passenger vehicle goes under the larger truck, it often scrapes the roof off of the passenger vehicle and can kill the occupants upon impact. Sometimes, when the driver and passengers of the passenger vehicle are more fortunate, the crash will occur next to one of the larger truck’s axles, which prevents the passenger vehicle from physically going completely under the truck.

According to national statistics, truck underride collisions account for nearly a quarter of deaths from accidents involving trucks. Of all the types of truck underride collisions, side underride and rear underride crashes occur most frequently.

Given Maine’s reputation as a beautiful place to live and vacation, the state experiences a significant amount of car and truck travel every year. However, all this traffic creates busy highways filled with cars and large commercial vehicles, increasing the chances of a serious Maine truck accident. Although some accidents are unavoidable, many trucking accidents are preventable. A significant number of these accidents result from a driver’s negligence or a defective car or truck component.

Trucks with defective parts, as well as those with inherently dangerous features, kill and injure thousands of people every year. A seemingly small defect can change the mechanical workings of these intricate vehicles. Even one defective part in a commercial truck can result in a total system failure, causing the truck to become a serious hazard. This is why federal and state lawmakers require commercial truck drivers to obtain special education, training, and licensing to operate them. Even simple tasks such as shifting and braking require several systems to work together. If even one of these systems contains a defect, the risk of a system failure or accident significantly increases.

The most common defects involve brakes, hydraulics, engines, steering systems, hitches, tires, and restraints. For example, recently, a state court issued an opinion in an accident lawsuit stemming from a truck’s un-commanded activation of a dump gate.

The Bureau of Highway Safety and the Maine Department of Transportation periodically release Maine crash data. These reports indicate that the leading causes of Maine accidents are distracted and inattentive driving, lane departures, speeding, and impaired driving. Many people believe that impaired driving is only a result of alcohol or illicit drug use; however, impaired driving also includes those driving while under the influence of a prescription medication that was prescribed to treat an underlying medical condition. It can also include those who drive while suffering from certain medical conditions.

Some medical conditions make it unsafe for an individual to drive a vehicle. People who know or should know that their medical condition can cause driving impairment should take appropriate precautions before operating a motor vehicle. In some instances, driving may not be safe at all. Certain medical conditions may predispose a person to engage in unsafe driving. For example, seizure disorders, sleep disorders, limited eyesight, and other conditions that require medication may limit a driver’s ability to drive safely.

If a driver’s health condition is the cause of an accident, they may be liable for any injuries caused by the accident. Establishing liability in typical impaired or drunk driving accidents may be straightforward; however, accidents resulting from medical conditions can be more complicated. Drivers owe others a standard of care to operate their motor vehicle safely. If a driver knows or should know that their medical condition or medication can cause impaired driving, they should not risk the safety of others by driving. If they fail to take the appropriate precautions and cause an accident, they may face liability.

The death of a state police detective in a Maine trucking accident on I-95  in Hampden was initially called a “bizarre” and “freak accident,” but is now under greater scrutiny by traffic homicide investigators after the motor carrier’s safety record revealed a troubling history of safety violations. As Bangor truck injury lawyers, we’d say while it’s fair to assert the exact circumstances leading to the detective’s death were uncommon, the term “freak accident” insinuates it wasn’t something that could have been stopped. But if a “freak accident” is even partially the result of poor truck maintenance, improper repairs, overloading or inadequate road safety checks, that can be the basis for a Maine negligence lawsuit against those responsible.

According to local news, the 31-year-old detective was assisting a disabled motorist on the snowy highway when two  wheels of a passing tractor-trailer suddenly came unhinged, flew off in either direction, with one fatally strikng the officer, a husband and new father. The driver of that tractor-trailer reportedly failed to stop at the scene, and his actions/sobriety are under investigation.

Meanwhile, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in January released early 2018 national truck crash statistics, which seem to indicate increasing road risks. The percentage of all fatal crashes involving at least one large truck increased from 11.1 percent in 2015 to 12.4 percent in 2017. Transportation Topics reported deadly large truck crashes were up more than 3 percent in one recent year. Occupant fatalities rose 24 percent in two years. Continue reading

The driver of a tractor-trailer packed with sawdust and wood chips narrowly escaped serious injury after he reportedly fell asleep, crossed the center line and slammed into a ditch on the opposite side of the road before the rig turned on its side. 

The crash occurred on Route 150 in Athens. The 50-year-old trucker told responding authorities that he fell asleep while driving and then work up in a ditch. He was transported to a local hospital as a precaution, the Kennebec Journal reported, but was soon thereafter released. It’s fortunate no other motorists were on that particular stretch of road when the truck accident occurred, as these large vehicles have the potential to cause catastrophic and fatal injuries, especially if one were to hit a passenger vehicle head on in the opposing lane.

Drowsy driving is a major problem in the trucking industry, with the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, published annually by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, revealing 13 percent of all commercial motor vehicle drivers were deemed “fatigued” at the time of the collision. The FMCSA defines “fatigue” as exertion – either physical or mental – that results in impaired performance. Truck drivers are especially prone to fatigue because they often suffer from inadequate sleep, brutal work schedules and monotonous work.  Continue reading

The family of a five-year-old boy killed in a Maine trucking accident is reportedly weighing a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver of the box truck that struck the rear of the vehicle in which he was a passenger. The crash also killed the boy’s 57-year-old volunteer driver, who had been transporting the boy from an educational program on a recent Friday afternoon.

According to the Portland Press-Herald, the pair died instantly after a box truck driven by a commercial driver rear-ended them on the Maine Turnpike at mile marker 22. The box truck reportedly slammed into the back of the volunteer driver’s car and then rode up onto its roof. The forceful impact of the collision also reportedly pushed the decedent’s car into the tractor-trailer that was in front of it.

The crash happened at around 2 p.m., after the volunteer driver and others on the turnpike had slowed down as emergency and clean up crews worked to clear the roadway following an earlier trucking accident at mile marker 24. In that crash, a motorist was thrown from a vehicle that collided with a median guardrail, causing the driver to suffer critical injuries.

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Two men died and two others were seriously injured when a pickup truck slammed into a dump truck on a recent Wednesday morning in Durham. It was shortly after 7 a.m. when the pickup, exiting Rabbit Road onto Route 9, slammed into a crossing dump truck driven by a 42-year-old. Two of the men inside the pickup, ages 21 and 24, were pronounced dead at the scene. A third, age 35, was seriously injured and taken by helicopter to a Lewiston hospital. The dump truck driver also suffered injuries, although he was reportedly in fair condition.

Several of the details we know about this case so far suggest there may be complex legal issues that trucking accident attorneys will likely explore in civil litigation. 

The dump truck was reportedly owned by a local construction company, according to The Portland Press Herald. The pickup struck the dump truck near the gas tank. The pickup truck burst into flames almost instantaneously as the dump truck flipped onto its side. Three men who happened on the scene pulled the three men out of the burning pickup truck.

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Almost 23 years have passed since Daphne Izner’s 17-year-old son and three of his friends, parked in the breakdown lane of the Maine Turnpike when their car overheated, were struck and instantly killed by a tired trucker. Despite causing four deaths, the truck driver was never charged with manslaughter. Drowsy driving wasn’t – and still isn’t – punishable by law in Maine. (The driver did ultimately serve three months in jail for falsely logging his work hours, a major problem in the Maine trucking industry.) Last year, HB 683, which would have made it a crime to operate a vehicle after 24 consecutive hours without sleep or while the person’s ability or alertness is so impaired by fatigue that it’s unsafe, failed in the state senate. 

Nonetheless, Izner has not given up her 23-year fight to make Maine’s roads safer. A year after their son died, Izner and her husband founded Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) which has been a force for change on Maine’s roads.

In 2002, PATT became the Truck Safety Coalition after joining forces with Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways. But for all the progress she and other safe trucking advocates have made, there are those in Congress who are still actively working to peel back federal safety regulations for the trucking industry. Specifically, the hours of service regulations for truckers is one that lobbyists have been working to scale back. Safety advocates like Izner aren’t giving up. They know how much is at stake.  Continue reading

A Tennessee man is facing charges of manslaughter following a Maine truck accident that resulted in two fatalities in March. Now, the Bangor Daily News has revealed the driver had a safety record that was much worse than the national average. 

This matters, particularly for his civil case, because it could be grounds to assert direct liability – and not just vicarious liability – against the trucking company that employed him. It may also be grounds to seek punitive damages, which could greatly increase the damage award for plaintiffs.

The newspaper reported that the 54-year-old trucker was hired by a carrier based in Tennessee. The company’s owner told a reporter he had no idea the driver’s license had been suspended in Louisiana and revoked in Virginia. At that point, he directed questions about the crash to his attorney, though he failed to provide the contact information for that individual.  Continue reading

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