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Poorly maintained semi-truck loses its rear axle causing fatal truck accident in Oklahoma

Written by Steve Gursten Posted November 21st, 2013

Crash claims lives of two teens and leaves two other teens very seriously injured

truck axle

I’ve written and presented at many legal seminars on the importance of semi-truck maintenance and having an effective maintenance program within the trucking company. It’s also critically important to properly train drivers about how to maintain their big-rigs, and how to spot mechanical issues with the truck before a serious malfunction can cause a truck wreck.

Beyond the fact that the truck driver and the truck company are required to properly inspect and maintain their semi-trucks, failure to do so can literally cost innocent people their lives.

Most trucking companies and their truck drivers are responsible. They care about safety and recognize how important it is to observe strong maintenance practices. But sadly, not all truckers and trucking companies play by the rules. And the ones that don’t are especially dangerous because they undercut the good companies and good drivers on price by taking short-cuts on safety. Why? Ultimately safety and properly maintained trucks with working brakes and good tires are an added cost.

Despite how critically effective truck maintenance is, there are still dangerous trucking companies and bad truck drivers who don’t care about safety, or about the safety of other people. When these bad apples break the rules, innocent people pay the price. This point was driven home following a horrible Oklahoma crash.

In the crash, which was originally reported by Oklahoma local news outlets, two teenagers were left dead and two others seriously injured.

The truck accident occurred when a westbound semi-truck malfunctioned. The fifth axle dual wheels detached from the truck, and struck an oncoming Jeep containing the four young teens. It appears that the truck driver was driving attentively, but the crash resulted from a truck malfunction. It’s not clear whether the truck was adequately inspected prior to departure, as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).

This is a terrible story. It serves as a grim reminder of the importance of both the pre-trip inspection, and of effective maintenance habits of truckers and the trucking company. This was a situation where the trucker was paying attention and was possibly driving carefully, but a detectable malfunction in the truck was what immediately caused the two deaths and two critical injuries in this truck accident.

The three founding attorneys of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable have  litigated several hundreds  serious injury crashes involving tractor trailers, and we have seen firsthand how malfunctions and defective equipment is a serious danger that causes real devastation. Hundreds of serious, and sometimes fatal, truck crashes and accidents occur every year in this country due to semi-truck malfunctions. Many could be entirely prevented with proper maintenance and vehicle inspection.

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About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.