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Commercial trucks are an essential part of the transportation industry and the economy of the United States. They carry goods, materials, and other products throughout the country, ensuring that items can be delivered on time. Unfortunately, truck accidents are a common occurrence on our nation's roads and highways, and inadequate maintenance is one of the leading causes of these accidents. When a truck's equipment is not properly maintained, this can affect the safety of everyone on the road. The accidents that may occur as a result of inadequate maintenance can cause serious injuries and even death. It is important to understand when and how truck maintenance negligence can be a factor in an accident so that victims can be adequately compensated for their losses. 

The Dangers of Poorly Maintained Trucks 

Commercial trucks are large, heavy vehicles that require regular care and attention to keep them in good working order. Unfortunately, some trucking companies fail to adequately maintain their fleets, putting drivers—and other road users—at risk of harm. When trucks are not properly maintained, they can have serious mechanical issues that make them hard to control. Truck drivers who are unable to operate their vehicles safely due to equipment failure may be unable to avoid collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all commercial motor vehicles to have regular inspections and maintenance in order to ensure they are safe for travel. Truck drivers must visually inspect their vehicles during transit to identify any issues that need to be addressed, and regular maintenance must be performed by trucking companies to ensure that all systems are working correctly. There are a number of common examples of inadequate maintenance that can lead to truck accidents, including: 


Truck accidents are a serious problem on our nation's roads. Each year, thousands of people are killed in accidents with large trucks and other commercial vehicles, and tens of thousands more suffer serious injuries in these types of collisions. Many of these accidents are caused by driver fatigue. Truck drivers can easily become tired or drowsy after being on the road for extended periods of time. Attempting to drive when a person is too tired to operate a commercial vehicle safely greatly increases the chances of a truck accident. In fact, studies have shown that between 7 and 13 percent of fatal truck crashes are associated with a lack of sleep. Victims who are injured in these types of accidents can work with a personal injury attorney to establish liability and pursue compensation for their damages.

Issues Leading to Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers are required to undergo extensive training to ensure that they will be able to operate large trucks safely. They must also obtain commercial driver's licenses, and they must abide by "hours of service" regulations to ensure that they do not remain on the road for longer than is safe. Under these regulations, truck drivers are generally limited to 11 hours of driving in a day, and they cannot drive at all after the 14th hour following the beginning of their shift. They are also required to spend at least 10 hours off-duty between driving shifts, and seven of those hours must be spent in a sleeper berth. A half-hour break must also be taken after driving for a total of eight hours.

Even when abiding by these regulations, fatigue is likely to affect truck drivers, especially when they are nearing the end of a shift, when they are driving late at night, or when their driving shifts take place at irregular times. When truck drivers recognize that they are becoming drowsy, they should be able to stop and get rest. Unfortunately, they may not be permitted to do so by their employers. In many cases, trucking companies are looking to deliver cargo as quickly as possible, and dispatchers will often encourage truck drivers to continue driving, even if they feel that it is not safe to do so. 


The State of Wisconsin has a high volume of trucks traveling its roads and highways every day. The size and weight of these trucks can often result in devastating accidents for other vehicles, bicyclists, or pedestrians involved in a crash. In recent years in Wisconsin, there has been an average of over 7,500 large truck crashes per year. These crashes resulted in an annual average of over 2,000 injuries and 70 deaths. Even minor collisions with trucks can result in personal injuries, leading to medical bills, time off of work, and pain and suffering.

The trucking industry and the drivers they employ must follow strict state and federal regulations for both the overall condition and the operation of their trucks to protect other vehicles on the roads. However, with the increased emphasis on just-in-time deliveries, violations can occur. Each truck accident can have multiple parties who may ultimately bear responsibility for the accident, including the truck driver, the carrier, or the warehouse that loaded the truck.

Possible Parties Responsible for Truck Accidents

  • Truck drivers – Truck drivers can cause accidents by speeding, driving recklessly, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Fatigued driving caused by intentionally working more hours than allowed can also lead to accidents. Truck drivers who hold a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) must meet higher standards than an average licensed driver since the vehicles they operate can cause much more significant damage if involved in an accident.  While service hours for drivers are regulated, violations do occur.


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_2826279.jpgDuring the winter, the roads in Wisconsin and throughout the United States can become very dangerous. Storms may cause snow to accumulate on roads and highways, and cold temperatures may cause ice to form. These conditions can make roads very slick, and drivers will be much more likely to lose control of their vehicles and become involved in collisions. These issues are especially dangerous for large trucks and commercial vehicles, and truck drivers will need to take extra care to drive safely and avoid collisions. When truck accidents occur, victims can work with an attorney to determine who was responsible and take action to recover compensation from the liable parties.

Causes of Winter Truck Accidents

Truck crashes that take place on snow or ice can be deadly. When a massive tractor-trailer truck cannot slow down or stop correctly, it may collide with other vehicles at high speeds, resulting in severe injuries or wrongful death. These accidents may occur because of:

  • Truck driver negligence - During winter weather, truck drivers need to be sure to remain aware of potentially dangerous conditions and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that they are driving safely. Unfortunately, issues such as driver fatigue or distracted driving will often cause truck drivers to fail to notice dangerous issues such as black ice. A truck driver may be liable for their failure to follow the correct safety practices, or a trucking company may be held responsible for failing to ensure that drivers were properly trained to drive safely in cold weather conditions.


Accidents involving large trucks claim the lives of nearly 70 Wisconsinites each year and leave more than 2,000 injured, many of whom are the occupants of other vehicles. The dangers of truck accidents are clear, due to the large size of the vehicles and their heavy cargo. What is not always so clear is who is at fault. If you have been injured in a collision with a semi-trailer truck, you may assume that the truck driver is your only option for pursuing compensation, but in many cases, the trucking company that employs the driver may also be liable.

Trucking Company Negligence in Wisconsin Crashes

Usually, when a trucking company is at fault for an accident, it is because it failed to take the necessary measures to ensure the truck’s safe operation. Often, this means that a company violated regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Some of the most common violations include:

  • Hours of service: Truck drivers are only allowed to be on the road for a certain number of hours each day and each week, and their time behind the wheel must be interspersed with breaks and off-duty periods. Drivers must also keep detailed records of their hours of service. If an accident occurs because the driver was fatigued, the trucking company can be liable for failing to enforce the hours of service regulations or for encouraging the driver to falsify records.
  • Maintenance: Trucks must also be inspected carefully before operation, and they should be regularly maintained, with records kept of all maintenance performed. Improper maintenance or lax record-keeping may mean that the company is negligent for an accident resulting from equipment failure.
  • Cargo loading: Truck cargo must be loaded properly and secured to prevent shifting in transit, as unsecured cargo can fall onto the roadway or contribute to a rollover accident. In accidents involving improperly loaded trucks, the driver and loading crew can be liable, as can the companies that employ them.
  • Drug testing: Trucking companies are required to drug test drivers before hiring, upon reasonable suspicion, after certain kinds of accidents, and randomly throughout the year. Insufficient testing can lead to trucking company liability if a drunk or impaired driver causes a crash.

Contact a Milwaukee Truck Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in a truck accident, hiring an attorney as soon as possible can help you obtain the evidence you need to identify all potentially liable parties and build your case for compensation. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, our Milwaukee, WI personal injury lawyers have the knowledge and experience to stand up to trucking companies and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at 414-271-1440.

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