Broken Locking Mechanism Causes Fatal Runaway Trailer Accident: New York Personal Injury Lawyer Kenneth A. Wilhelm Talks about the Importance of Vehicle Safety Inspection

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Seven people, including four children between the ages of 4 and 7, were killed after a broken locking mechanism caused a trailer to roll free and strike a minivan. According to a June 2 news report in The Post Standard, investigators are now looking into whether the truck driver performed the necessary safety checks before getting on the road.

Tractor-trailers are required to have "fifth wheel" coupling mechanisms to ensure that the trailer is locked properly on to the tractor.

Investigators are attributing a defective or broken lock mechanism on the tractor part of a big rig for a devastating truck accident on Route 13 in Truxton, N.Y., that killed seven people including four children between the ages of 4 and 7. Based on a June 2 article in The Post Standard, Cortland County Sheriff's investigators determined that a broken locking mechanism on the tractor of the rig caused the trailer to separate. The runaway trailer then veered into the opposite lane, smashing into a minivan carrying eight people, the report states.

Tractor-trailers are required to have "fifth wheel" coupling mechanisms to ensure that the trailer is locked properly on to the tractor. The mechanism that secures the trailer to the tractor consists of a steel pin and a spring-loaded lock, the article states. If the lock breaks, the driver should be alerted to the problem during a safety check that is supposed to take place before every trip.

After hitching the trailer, the driver is expected to check the lock by pulling a two-foot handle on the fifth wheel and if that handle pulls loose, it means that the trailer is not locked in place, the article states. Investigators are also looking into why the trailer's air brakes did not automatically stop it once it came loose, according to the report.

In addition to human error, mechanical failure is one of the most common causes of truck accidents, said New York personal injury lawyer Kenneth A. Wilhelm. "This is why it is crucial for truck drivers to perform safety inspections before they get on the roadway. Trucking companies are required to have a vehicle maintenance log."

When big rigs are not properly maintained, they put everyone on the roadway at great risk, Wilhelm said. "These big rigs can cause significant damage because of their size as well as their weight, as seen in this fatal New York crash. It is very important that the vehicles are not only maintained properly, but that safety inspections are conducted on a regular basis. These types of horrific tragedies can be prevented with diligent safety inspections."

About the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm

The Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm is a personal injury litigation firm with an unwavering dedication to its clients. With more than 41 years of experience, our firm strives to obtain the best compensation for those who have been injured or those who have lost a loved one due to an accident or by someone else's negligence. We handle cases dealing with personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death, workers' compensation, dental malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, rape, paralysis, comas, seizures, false arrest, lead poisoning, trips and slips and falls, elevator accidents, construction accidents, Erb's palsy, cerebral palsy, brain damage, blindness, hearing loss, dog bite cases, fire and smoke inhalation accidents, bicycle accidents, falls from windows or scaffolds, and many other types of accidents and injuries.

Please contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

Other phone numbers for us are:

1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES

Please visit us at:

The Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm
445 Park Ave, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10022
(212) 545-7373

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