When Semi-Trailers Detach


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There is perhaps nothing more terrifying on our highways than semi accidents. These massive machines swarm our roadways, fueling our consumer-driven economy, and when they are involved in accidents, they are often fatal accidents. When a semi-trailer, however, detaches from its tractor, the resulting danger is almost impossible to overstate. Further, these accidents – as unbelievable as they may sound – do happen. If you have been injured in a big rig accident, you need the professional legal counsel of a Central Texas personal injury attorney.

How Tractors and Their Trailers Attach

Semi-trucks are comprised of a tractor, which houses the vehicle’s engine and the trucker’s cab. This is connected to the semi-trailer, which holds the cargo being hauled. These two major components connect where the truck’s fifth wheel meets the trailer’s kingpin. If those terms are confusing, you are probably better acquainted with what these parts look like:

  • The fifth wheel is a flat, slotted, horseshoe-shaped metal part that sits directly behind the cab of the truck (between the wheels).
  • The kingpin is a heavy duty piece of steel that juts out of the trailer’s apron, which is a steel plate in the very front of the trailer.

When Tractor and Trailer Are Properly Coupled

When the tractor and trailer are properly coupled together, the two parts safely interconnect. When the truck is in motion, the fifth wheel serves to guide the trailer and allows it to pivot when the truck changes direction. The air necessary to operate the trailer’s brakes comes from the truck, so if they detach, the trailer’s brakes instantly lock to keep the massive container from traveling on its own.

When a Semi-Trailer Detaches

When a trailer detaches from its tractor, the trailer, again, will not travel independently – instead, it sits right where it is planted. If you can imagine traveling at highway speeds into the solid wall of a tractor-trailer in your path, you have some idea of how terrifying and deadly such accidents can be.

Who Is Responsible for Detachments

While detachments should never happen, the fact is that they do. Typically, the truck driver is responsible for ensuring that tractor and trailer are safely and properly connected and that the fifth wheel and kingpin are in good working order. The trucking company, however, is responsible for maintaining a roadworthy fleet, for hiring well-trained and experienced drivers, for implementing regular maintenance and safety checks, and for not overscheduling and overtaxing their truck drivers (an exhausted trucker is more likely to make dangerous errors). Finally, if either of these two essential coupling devices is faulty to begin with, the manufacturer of the parts may also be at fault.

If You Have Been Injured in a Truck Accident, Consult with an Experienced Central Texas Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Truck accidents are among the deadliest on our roadways. If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident, Attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Central Texas has the experience, dedication, and knowledge to help skillfully guide your claim toward its most beneficial outcome. For more information, please contact or call us at (254) 220-4225 today.


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