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“I have been prosecuting serious injury and wrongful death cases against trucking companies, auto makers and tire manufacturers for more than 30 years. Our firm maintains this blog to share information and insight on transportation safety issues that continue to arise on our nation’s highways and roads.”

Alexander Johnson was killed when jumping from a runaway semi-truck that caught fire near Wellsburn, PA

WELLSBURG, Pennsylvania—Alexander Johnson, 42, died on September 9, 2022, after he attempted to jump to safety to escape a runaway semi-truck. The accident occurred on Cumberland Road/PA Route 160 around 1:40 a.m. near Wellsburg, Pennsylvania.

Initial reports suggest that Johnson jumped from the moving semi-truck and died, and the truck continued traveling, eventually coming to rest in a wooded area next to the highway and then exploding. Authorities believe Johnson’s truck had “experienced mechanical failure with its breaks” just prior to the accident.

Both Pennsylvania and Maryland State police responded to the incident, which resulted in the closure of PA Route 160 for approximately 18 hours.

Investigation into the cause of the fiery crash is ongoing. No further details are available.

This crash was likely preventable and should be challenged by Johnson’s surviving family

The startling image of Johnson leaping to his death to avoid an inevitable fiery crash is both infuriating and heartbreaking. This horrible accident would have never occurred had Johnson’s semi-truck not broken down when it did. Indeed, Johnson’s family would be best served in this time of grief by an independent investigation into the cause of the crash focused on the semi-truck’s mechanical defects, as well as any maintenance and repair issues.

Semi-truck manufacturers must adhere to strict guidelines when mass-producing big rigs to ensure the safety of drivers and others on the roadways across the nation. Sometimes, manufacturers cut corners or fail to inspect certain key elements of their product before marketing it for purchase by large trucking companies. When trucking companies purchase these trucks, they, too, have a responsibility to maintain them. Regular maintenance includes regular servicing of the engine, brakes, tires, and any other systems of the truck. Repairs are often performed by one shop on contract with the trucking company to ensure consistency throughout the fleet of semis.

If any of the parties listed above (i.e., the manufacturer, trucking company, or repair shop) fails to inspect the semi-truck for defects or maintains the truck in a negligent manner, there can be dire consequences. As for Johnson, the truck he drove was obviously not suited for further travel, but more investigation must be done as to which party is responsible for the truck’s mechanical failure.

Our firm can perform an independent legal investigation to help Johnson’s family get the answers they so desperately need. For instance, our experienced attorneys can force the discovery of manufacturing details, repair logs, internal company memoranda, and much more to determine whether any party knew or had reason to know of this truck’s imminent failure. Armed with more information about the crash, Johnson’s family can make an informed decision about whether to pursue legal remedies through our court system.

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