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Truck driver, owner & garage owner all charged with vehicular homicide in Pennsylvania truck crash

A fatal truck crash in the Philadelphia area involved such egregious safety violations that vehicular homicide charges have been brought against:

The driver. He had been ordered to be taken out of service on four of six compliance checks since June due to faulty brakes and a falsified log-book. Before the fatal crash he had called his boss to report that the brakes were bad, but continued on until the fatal crash.

The truck owner. He allegedly knew that the rig’s brakes were defective and took no steps to fix them.

A garage owner, who allegedly sold an inspection sticker for the truck for $200 without inspecting it.

Pennsylvania state police reported that

Of the ten brake assemblies on the truck tractor and trailer, none were working more than 50 percent capacity. . . . Three brake assemblies failed completely. . . . Two were grossly out of adjustment and barely functioning. . . . All were close to rupturing or exploding.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said, “This was a 74,000-pound death machine that was careening across the highways of this country, endangering people until it took [the victim’s] life.”

The prior safety violations occurred in Iowa, California, Arizona, Maryland, and Kentucky. Pennsylvania officials blamed a “loophole” in the nation’s trucking-oversight system, as repair after citation for violations is primarily on an honor system.

Ken Shigley is an interstate trucking trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. He served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs for the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. Mr. Shigley has extensive experience representing parties in trucking and bus accidents, products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. Currently he is Secretary of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.