At Trucking Injury Law Group, we represent clients who’ve been hurt or have lost a close relative due to another party’s negligence, sometimes due to rollover crashes. Truck rollover accidents occur when a commercial truck falls over on its side or “rolls” over due to the extreme forces of a collision or extreme maneuver that causes the truck to end up on its side. The resulting injuries from these collisions can be tremendous.
If you’ve been involved in a rollover crash and believe it could have been prevented, contact a truck rollover accident lawyer from our law practice for a free initial consultation to learn more about your legal options for holding negligent parties accountable. We often advise those potential clients that filing a truck accident claim is in their best interest.
Large Truck Rollover Accident Statistics
A study previously published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) placed the incidence rate of large truck crashes involving rollovers at an estimated 9%. However, a more recent study published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) places large truck rollover accidents at around 4% of fatal crashes. That same data suggests that these overturn accidents, as they’re also called, account for 2% of these big trucks’ nonfatal accidents.
Additional reporting by the FMCSA suggests that of all large trucks, a cargo tank truck has a higher propensity to experience a rollover than other types of big commercial motor vehicles. That same report chronicles how at least 78% of those rollovers are attributable to driver error.
Why Do Trucks Roll Over?
Above, we discussed how an alarming number of rollover crashes are believed to result from driver error. While this is certainly a cause, as you’ll note in the listing of multiple reasons why commercial vehicles like box trucks or 18-wheelers experience rollovers below, it’s not the only one. Some of the more common culprits for these potentially deadly truck accidents include:
Tractor-Trailer Maintenance Issues
All truckers are supposed to perform a pre-trip inspection before leaving their depot; however, this seldom happens. Inspections like these could help truckers identify load dynamics, suspension, tire, brake, and other related issues that could cause a truck accident to occur.
Trucking companies, some truck drivers’ employers, also share in the burden of ensuring their fleet of 18-wheelers is maintained in a mechanically sound condition.
It’s considered negligent when either a trucker or a truck company fails to perform a pre-trip inspection that could potentially reveal safety issues, or if they’re aware of potential issues that make the 18-wheeler dangerous to operate on the road yet do nothing to address the situation.
Improper Freight Loading
One of the most common reasons a semi-truck may experience a rollover accident is if the cargo inside of its trailer shifts. This often happens because the load isn’t properly loaded or secured in place.
Shifts in loads can happen if they’re not equally distributed in the trailer. Additionally, they may happen if the load isn’t strapped in so it doesn’t move about.
Matters are made worse when a truck driver attempts to navigate their 18-wheeler around a curve. A semi-truck with its high center of gravity tends to lean into the inner aspect of the curve, leaving it vulnerable to rolling over if a trucker speeds or too sharply turns the wheel of their 18-wheeler.
The weight of the cargo’s load also matters. While fully-loaded tractor-trailers certainly experience rollover accidents, they’re even more common among partially-loaded ones. Abrupt driving tactics, like sudden braking and oversteering may only up the chances of a rollover occurring.
Tractor-trailer operators undergo additional driver training beyond what the rest of us do, which leads to them being issued a commercial driver’s license (CDL). While this should make truckers safer than the rest of us since they receive professional training, that’s not necessarily the case.
Truckers often engage in reckless driving behaviors, such as the following:
- Speeding: Not adjusting one’s speed to account for changes in terrain like curves, areas of limited visibility, downhills, bends, or changing weather or road conditions, like ice, snow, and rain, can easily make a tractor-trailer turn over. Truckers often feel pressured to speed to ensure they adhere to tight delivery deadlines set by their employers or clients.
- Distracted driving: Whether it’s eating, messing with the radio, texting or talking on their cellphone, or having a conversation with someone else in their truck, all of these can serve as distractions that cause a trucker to lose track of their speed, not pay as close of attention as they should while navigating a turn, or otherwise do something that may cause a rollover accident.
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol: Despite us all having seen public service announcements (PSAs) and having been taught about the dangers associated with drugged or drunk driving, some motorists, truckers included, still do it. Drug or alcohol intoxication makes operating a vehicle, especially one as big in size and weight as a tractor-trailer, particularly dangerous in that it affects hand-eye coordination, judgment, and more, making truckers most apt to lose control of their 18-wheeler, causing a rollover.
- Fatigued or drowsy driving: Truckers are often pushed beyond their limits, ordered to stay on the road for longer than federal hours of service regulations allow, despite it being illegal to do so, either due to their pay structure or because they overpromise delivery times to clients. This, in turn, may mean that the tractor-trailer operators we share the road with are beyond “done” for the day. In other words, they may be way too tired to be out there but feel like they have no other choice but to keep trucking along. Driving takes one’s full attention, so truckers who are exhausted put themselves and others in danger of being hurt in a rollover if they’re not at their best when operating their truck.
Ineffective Hiring Practices
While not a direct factor in causing tractor-trailer crashes (in the sense that the aforementioned driver errors are), it’s certainly an indirect one. A trucking company has an obligation to exercise caution when screening prospective truck drivers that they’re thinking about hiring. A trucking company should take time to request and review a truck driver’s:
- References to see if they shed light on any reason they shouldn’t be hired
- Driving record to confirm that they don’t have any past violations
- Proof of a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) physical
- Random drug and alcohol screening results
A trucking company that employs negligent hiring practices by not checking these items leaves themselves vulnerable to hiring an unsafe trucker that can potentially cause a rollover accident. It also leaves the trucking employer unnecessarily exposed to legal liability (and associated financial loss).
Any combination of the above-referenced factors can leave passenger car drivers, their passengers, and other motorists vulnerable to getting hurt, perhaps in a rollover accident, if the right combination of circumstances is present.
Common Injuries Sustained in Semi-Truck Rollover Accidents
When a tractor-trailer rolls over, it puts not only the truck driver at risk of getting hurt but occupants in a passenger vehicle nearby them, too—especially if the 18-wheeler falls on top of the car, crushing it beneath. Drivers and their passengers may suffer some of the following injuries when this type of truck accident occurs:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Compression injuries
- Organ damage, resulting in internal bleeding
- Cuts and bruises
- Broken bones
As you can likely tell, the many ways in which trucking accidents between inequitably sized tractor-trailers and passenger cars can hurt motorists are similar, whether it’s a rollover or some other crash being discussed.
Proving Liability for a Rollover Truck Accident
Determining liability for a rollover may seem pretty cut-and-dried from most people’s point of view but not from an experienced attorney’s perspective. Insurance companies tend to always try and contest liability, but it’s even more notably the case the higher the stakes are in terms of potential payouts they may have to make.
So, even though it may be evident to an injured motorist that the rollover accident that they, unfortunately, became entangled in was wholly attributable to a truck driver’s negligent operation of their 18-wheeler or due to loading issues, an insurance adjuster may dispute that assertion. That’s where a rollover truck accident lawyer figures into the mix.
Bringing a Truck Accident Reconstructionist Into Your Case Can Be Helpful
While police reports often provide a clear enough depiction of what happened to determine liability, some officers fill them out better than others. If you work with us, we may need to hire a crash scene reconstructionist to make note of or collect evidence at the accident site to aid in proving liability. While there at the accident scene, they may make note of some of the following, as it can point to fault for the crash:
- Purged radiator fluid
- Auto part debris
- Gas residue
- Skid marks
- Oil slicks
Having Medical Professionals Assess Your Injuries Can Help in Building Truck Accident Cases
It is also sometimes necessary to bring medical professionals into the mix to assess the causation of your accident injuries. Someone like this can generally look at a listing of the severe injuries you claim to have sustained in the crash and review the crash report as well as your prior medical bills and records to determine whether it seems logical that the way you assert the trucking accident occurred could have actually left you with your residual injuries.
Those health care professionals may also be effective in helping paint a picture of your prognosis and future medical expenses if you have suffered permanent injuries as well.
Why Our Attorneys Often Bring in Outside Professionals in Semi-Truck Accident Cases
Typical auto accidents are dissimilar to a tractor-trailer accident in one key aspect—there may be multiple liable parties responsible for the latter crash’s occurrence, including the:
- Truck driver
- Truck company (carrier)
- Loading company
- Auto parts manufacturers
Each entity above generally is represented in truck rollover accident cases by their respective insurance company. That being said, we often bring in these above-referenced professionals not because we don’t believe our clients, injury victims, and how they say their accident transpired or their description of the onset of their injuries, but instead to ensure we cover all of our bases. It’s imperative that we have a ready answer or justification when an insurance company undoubtedly pushes back, denying liability and thus any compensation you deserve.
After all, commercial truck accident cases are unique in that we may have to negotiate with multiple insurance companies who contributed to causing your crash.
While our lawyers often use these professionals’ expertise in building strong trucking accident cases for our clients in preparation for pre-litigation negotiation, we also often use these individuals as witnesses at trial if trying the case in a courtroom becomes the only apparent way to seek an award against negligent truckers, truck companies, and any other potentially liable parties.
Benefits of Working With Trucking Injury Law Group
Throughout this piece, we’ve shared with you the value of expertise. That’s important when you’re considering hiring a semi-truck accident attorney and is also something we carefully consider when bringing in a third party to help with a particular aspect of your case, as described above.
When you work with our Super Team at Trucking Injury Law Group, there’s generally not just one person looking at every angle of your commercial truck accident case, but instead, multiple ones. We’re a multi-state truck accident law group.
Don’t wait too long following a truck accident to reach out for help, as the statute of limitations may run out in your case. Contact us to speak with a truck rollover accident lawyer if you were injured in a semi or tractor-trailer crash to learn how we can help you fight every involved insurance company for the compensation you need to have a full recovery.