When a truck rolls over, it is dangerous not only for the truck driver but also for other cars or pedestrians around it. These accidents can cause catastrophic injuries or even death. Truck accident attorneys can help injury victims by answering their questions and representing them through the entirety of the case.
What Is a Truck Rollover?
A truck rollover crash occurs when a truck turns onto its side or flips to the top. In these situations, they could roll several times before coming to a complete stop.
The truck driver is the key component to preventing a truck from rolling over. While other drivers are sometimes the cause, if the truck driver remains attentive, follows the rules of the road, and doesn’t make any sudden movements, they can significantly decrease the chances of a rollover.
What Causes Truck Rollovers?
With the weight and size of large trucks, a lot can go wrong if someone makes a mistake while out on the roads. A truck rollover accident may even transpire. Common causes of these crashes include driver fatigue, driving while under the influence, improper cargo loading, truck equipment issues, distracted driving, and driver inexperience.
Each of these causes can significantly damage property and endanger people’s lives.
Driver fatigue can occur when truck drivers don’t get enough sleep before going out on the roads. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets a limit on how many hours truck drivers can drive before they must take a mandatory rest. Enforcing these rules lowers the probability of a truck driver driving out on the roads while fatigued. However, unfortunately, accidents because of fatigue still happen.
As a result of driver fatigue, the truck driver may succumb to:
- Nodding off
- Lowered reaction time if road conditions change
- Poor decision making
- Falling asleep behind the wheel
- Forgetting the last mile they drove
If any of these things occur while driving, even for a second, it could cause a truck to roll over and leave a path of destruction along the way. Drivers experience fatigue because of lack of sleep, long periods of inactivity, working long hours, and health factors. Therefore, it is critical that trucking companies and truck drivers implement safe driving practices to avoid fatigued driving.
Driving While Under the Influence
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a dangerous practice for anyone operating a motor vehicle. If a truck driver or another motorist drives under the influence, they could cause a truck rollover crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that alcohol and drugs can affect driving abilities.
For example, they may experience:
- Lowered judgment: Alcohol and drugs affect the areas of the brain that control judgment. When someone has lowered judgment, they could pull out in front of oncoming traffic because they think they have more room than they do or run a red light. Both of these activities can result in an accident that could cause a large truck to roll over.
- Impaired vision: Many drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol could experience double vision and cross the centerline or change lanes without notice. If a vehicle or large truck is in the other lane and gets hit, it could cause the truck to roll over.
- Lowered reaction time: When someone is driving, they must quickly process information to react if something unexpected occurs. When someone drives under the influence, their brain processes information slower, causing a lower reaction time.
Regardless of if a truck driver drives while under the influence of the driver of a surrounding vehicle, if there is a large truck involved, it could cause a rollover, potentially leading to catastrophic injuries and property damage.
Improper Cargo Loading
Properly loading cargo in the back of a large truck is crucial to lowering the risk of a truck rollover. The FMCSA has rules for loading, securing, and inspecting cargo. If the truck driver, cargo loaders, or trucking company doesn’t abide by them, the unsecured cargo could cause the truck to roll over.
Some of the rules the FMCSA enforces include:
- The person loading the cargo must distribute it evenly in the truck.
- The person who loads the cargo must secure the cargo properly to avoid shifts or other movements.
- The driver must ensure all doors get secured properly, so they do not open while the truck moves.
On top of following the loading recommendations, the driver must inspect the cargo to ensure it’s loaded correctly before they start the trip, within intervals during the trip, and if there is a change of drivers during the trip. Inspecting the cargo at each stop can prevent a rollover accident.
Truck Equipment Issues
Defective equipment on large trucks could cause a rollover accident. It is critical for trucking companies to keep their trucks well-maintained to avoid mechanical issues. Safety inspections can help prevent these accidents.
The trucking companies should regularly inspect:
- Windshield wipers
On top of this equipment, they should inspect the latches on doors and tailgates to ensure they close properly. If not, a door could open, causing cargo to fall out. If any of these issues occur because of poorly maintained equipment, the responsibility may fall on the trucking company.
The law considers distracted driving as anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states there are three types of distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual distractions take the driver’s eyes off the road. Manual distractions take their hands off the wheel, and cognitive distractions take the driver’s attention off of driving.
With cell phones and other technology, there are many ways drivers get distracted on the roads.
Common distractions that could cause truck rollover accidents to include:
- Cellphone use: When someone texts on their cellphone, they can take their eyes off the road long enough to where they can veer out of their lane into oncoming traffic. Drivers talking on their cellphones can cognitively distract them because the driver could focus too much on the phone call and not enough on the road.
- Eating: When someone eats while driving, it takes at least one hand off the wheel. Also, drivers could take their eyes off the road if the food spills or while they take a bite.
- Using a navigation system: Truck drivers typically bring cargo to new areas daily, so they might have to use a navigation system to know where they’re going. If the driver changes the navigation while driving, it causes them to take their eyes off the road.
Any of these distractions can cause the truck driver or other motorists to take their eyes off the road or not fully focus on driving. If a distracted driver causes a truck accident, it could roll over.
Determining Fault After a Truck Rollover Accident
Determining how the accident occurred can provide insight into who was negligent.
Potentially responsible parties in a truck rollover crash include:
- The truck driver: If the accident occurred because the truck driver drove while distracted, under the influence, or recklessly, they may face accountability. Also, if the truck driver doesn’t adhere to the FMCSA rules, the injured party could hold them responsible for the accident.
- The trucking company: There are several scenarios where the trucking company is at fault for the rollover accident. If during the investigation, findings show the company cut corners related to safety, the other parties could hold them accountable. Other reasons liability falls on the trucking company include if the cargo isn’t loaded correctly or if the company didn’t adequately train their drivers.
- The truck’s owner: If the trucking company doesn’t own the truck, the liability may fall on the truck’s owner if the accident occurred because of poor mechanical issues. Truck owners must ensure they properly maintain their trucks before allowing trucking companies to load cargo and have a driver drive it.
- Other drivers: If another motorist around the truck caused the rollover accident, they may hold liability. Typically, this happens if they crash into the truck or cut the truck off.
A truck accident attorney could help anyone injured in the accident file a claim against the liable party. Filing a claim can help them recover compensation for the damages they incurred because of the accident.
Damages Victims Can Seek in a Truck Rollover Accident Case
After establishing fault and liability in a truck rollover accident case, an attorney can determine which damages the victim may be entitled to recover.
Usually, they evaluate these factors of the case to arrive at a conclusion:
- The type and seriousness of the injuries suffered
- The nature of the truck rollover crash
- The liable party
- Expected medical treatment and prognosis
- How the crash and injuries affected their work status
- Their mental and emotional well-being
Although each case differs, some of the damages truck accident victims can pursue include:
- Past and future medical expenses: Truck accident victims may incur costs of medications, surgeries, hospital stays, follow-up appointments, diagnostic exams, mobility aids, or ambulance rides.
- Lost income: Truck accidents are known for the serious injuries they inflict on victims. As a result, they may have to take time off work and miss out on earning their regular pay, bonuses, tips, promotions, benefits, and other business opportunities.
- Future loss of earning capacity: The more serious the injuries, the longer the leave of absence from work. Victims may claim a loss of future earning capacity if they cannot go back to work for the foreseeable future.
- Property damage costs: Truck accidents can do serious damage or even total the other vehicles involved in the crash.
- Pain and suffering: The injuries victims suffer in a truck accident can lead to a time of discomfort, inconvenience, and chronic pain.
- Mental anguish: Traffic collisions can be traumatic for the victims, and compensation can help them cope with the hit their mental health took.
Tragically, truck rollover accidents could cost someone their life. In that case, surviving family members may benefit from compensation via a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. They could receive coverage for loss of financial support, funeral and burial expenses, end-of-life medical care bills, and/or loss of consortium or household services.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney’s Office After Suffering Injuries in a Crash
Victims who sustain injuries from truck rollover accidents can file a claim or lawsuit against the liable party. Typically, if someone sustains injuries from the crash, they suffer monetary and non-monetary losses. Through an accident claim or lawsuit, they could recover those losses. A truck accident attorney can greatly benefit those who seek compensation from the liable party, as they may take on communications on the injured party’s behalf and fight for a fair settlement.
Contact a law office that handles truck rollover crash cases today for a free consultation.
During the consultation, a team member can explain what an attorney can do to move the claim forward, explain legal options, and provide insight into potential outcomes.