Tragic New York Truck Accident Puts Truck Safety in Limelight

Earlier this spring, four children and three adults were killed near Syracuse, New York, when a trailer broke loose from its tractor and hit a minivan traveling in the opposite direction. According to authorities, the children were between 4 and 7 years old. Investigators do not yet know what caused the trailer to break away from the semi truck, but they are looking at all possible causes, including mechanical failure and truck driver negligence.

This truck accident raises many questions. Who is responsible? How often do tractor-trailers break loose? Are they a typical cause of
New York truck accidents?

Truck Accident Investigation

Investigators look at many factors to determine what caused a truck accident, including truck inspection records. In the Syracuse truck accident case, the truck belonged to a salvage company that has been in business for approximately one year. The last inspection of the truck, in March, found only minor violations.

Yearly inspections are required under New York trucking law, and trucks are subject to random roadside inspections. The law also requires truck drivers to inspect trucks before every trip, including checking the coupling holding the trailer to the truck.

If accident investigators find that the coupling was loose in the New York truck accident case, the truck driver and salvage company could be held accountable for the deaths and injuries sustained. If, however, the driver and company acted responsibly and the truck accident can be attributed to a defect, such as a defective coupling or trailer tire defect, then the families may need to bring a lawsuit against the manufacturers of the defective part(s).

Common Causes of New York Truck Accidents

It is rare for trailers to break loose from trucks and cause accidents. According to state police, one trailer came loose in Allegany County last year and another in North Buffalo in 2011.

Other causes of truck accidents are much more common. In 2012, for example, 22 percent of New York trucks were pulled off the road during safety inspections, which implies that more than one-fifth of the trucks on New York roads could be violating truck safety laws.

And, while things are much better than they were even a decade ago, truck accidents continue to take lives. In 2011, there were 11,648 large truck crashes in New York State, including more than 90 fatal accidents. A wide range of factors caused the accidents, including:

  • Distracted driving (19.3 percent of all accidents)
  • Following too closely (14.2 percent)
  • Failure to yield the right of way (11.5 percent)
  • Unsafe lane change (10 percent)
  • Speeding (8 percent)
  • Auto defects and other vehicle factors (10.1 percent)
  • Defective brakes (1.2 percent)
  • Weather conditions (8.3 percent)

The majority (81 percent) of New York truck crashes in 2011 were caused by driver error. Vehicular factors, however, played a part in at least 1,079 accidents. Defective accelerators, brakes, headlights, steering, tires and windshields all caused truck accidents in 2011. Runaway vehicles caused by tow hitch defects were responsible for 26 accidents.

Holding Negligent Parties Accountable, Recovering Compensation

Because of its sheer size and weight, a semi truck with a negligent driver or auto defect is akin to a weapon. Seven people died this spring from an event that should never occur. When accidents like these happen, the responsible parties must be held accountable for their actions.

If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a New York truck accident, do not hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. While you focus on your family during this difficult time, a lawyer can help you bring a claim to recover compensation for your medical bills, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, loss of income and other injuries suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence.

  • American Association for Justice | Leaders Forum Patron 2015
  • Multi Million Dollar Advocates Forum
    Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb Top Attorney Slip and Fall