The aftereffects from a large truck rollover accident can be extensive and potentially devastating. When a large truck like a semi or delivery van is involved in a crash, the damage can extend beyond just the commercial driver and their vehicle – and the results may be severe. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 71% of people killed in large truck crashes in 2018 were the occupants of other vehicles.
Or take it from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):
“Most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants. The main problem is the vulnerability of people traveling in smaller vehicles. Trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars and are taller with greater ground clearance, which can result in smaller vehicles underriding trucks in crashes.”
If you have suffered physical or psychological injuries caused by a large truck crash in Texas, or your vehicle or property has been damaged, you may be eligible for financial compensation.
In this blog, our car accident attorneys explain the common causes of commercial rollover crashes, steps you can take to file for damages, and why working with an experienced truck accident attorney will help you proceed through the stages of the claim process.
Common Causes of Large Truck Rollovers
While NHTSA states that 95% of rollovers are caused by a vehicle “tripping” over something — potholes, ditches, curbs, guardrails, even soft ground and loose gravel — there are several additional factors that contribute to large vehicle crashes. Here are the most common:
Product defects have the potential to negate any of the safety tests that are performed on vehicles before they even leave the lot. Defective tires, brakes, and suspension systems increase the likelihood of large commercial vehicles losing control or flipping over. For example, in 2015 there were 634 fatal tire-related crashes recorded in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), and more than 15% of them occurred in Texas.
Negligent maintenance is caused by error rather than manufacturer oversight. Faulty maintenance jobs performed by a mechanic on your brakes, steering or suspension systems can be extremely dangerous. Likewise, regular proactive maintenance checks and updates need to be performed on large trucks to ensure they are working properly and are safe to operate.
Improper Hiring and Training
Hiring and training practices are one of the first areas where attorneys will look for evidence of company negligence. Companies are accountable for having safe hiring and training practices, including:
- Conducting checks into criminal backgrounds and driving records
- Contacting previous employers and references before hiring
- Mandating periodic physical exams and drug tests
- Providing adequate job training before the employee can drive
Unethical companies will pressure drivers to operate with unsafe driving policies or expectations that contribute to trucking accidents. This includes pushing their employees to exceed the hours-of-service rules that dictate how long a truck driver can stay on the road without taking a break. Or they foster unrealistic expectations for how far their drivers must travel in a day by falsifying driving logs or speed records, and threaten to cut their pay or even fire them.
Other Factors in Rollover Crashes
Other factors that can increase the odds of a rollover crash include:
- Size: Tall, narrow trucks with a high center of gravity may be susceptible to rolling over on turns or curves.
- Unbalanced loads: If the heaviest cargo isn’t carefully loaded or placed in the center of the truck, the overall stability of the vehicle may be compromised.
- Speed: Trucks traveling too fast on sharp turns or around curves often causes crashes.
- Distraction: If a driver isn’t paying attention, they may make sudden, sharp maneuvers that can lead to accidents.
What Do I Do After A Rollover Accident?
If you or a loved one suffer injuries or experience damage due to commercial truck rollover, here are a handful of steps you can take to help your case:
- Call 911 and make an accident report
- Take pictures of the accident scene
- Identify eyewitnesses and get their contact information
- Seek medical attention for your injuries
- Consult a lawyer who has experience handling claims that involve rollover accidents
Who Can Be Found Liable in a Rollover Crash?
Large truck cases are more complex than those involving passenger vehicle crashes. The defendants are often large corporations with entire legal teams on retainer. As a result, proving fault in a rollover accident involving a commercial vehicle – and holding the negligent party responsible for damages – will likely require the help of an experienced attorney.
These are the three main parties that are most often at fault for truck wrecks.
- The Truck Driver: Wrecks can be caused by negligent behavior, and the driver shares some of that blame when it is related to fatigue, distracted driving, alcohol or drug use, or another contributing factor.
- The Truck or Freight Company: It’s advisable to hire an attorney to conduct an investigation to determine if the company engaged in negligent hiring or training practices or has established unsafe policies or expectations related to the driver’s performance.
- Mechanics or Truck Manufacturers: While it’s not as common, negligent mechanics and manufacturers have been found responsible for large truck crashes after issues were found with the truck’s brakes, tires, steering wheel, or suspension system.
What If I’m Partially to Blame?
In Texas, contributory negligence laws are used to govern compensation in situations where the victim contributed to their own injuries. Also called the 51% bar, this rule states that you can only recover damages if you’re found to be not more at fault than the others (not 51% or more).
The real concern regarding contributory negligence is that truck companies may attempt to use this rule to deny victims their rightful compensation. If a truck company or other defendant can convince the judge that you were more than 50% responsible for the crash, you will no longer be eligible to receive compensation. It may not surprise you to learn that defendants will try to place at least some of the blame on you to decrease the settlement amount.
If you think there is even a remote possibility that someone will try to use contributory negligence against you, contact a skilled commercial truck attorney right away.
Crosley Law Can Help If You Were Injured By a Large Truck
If you or a family member have been injured in a rollover crash caused by a large commercial vehicle, you may be eligible to receive compensation. The skilled and experienced truck accident attorneys at Crosley Law can help you prepare a personal injury claim and assist you in all stages of your claim process.
At Crosley Law, we will work expert witnesses, study crash reports eyewitness statements, and examine physical evidence to reconstruct the crash and identify who is at fault. Once we understand each party’s liability, we file claims on behalf of our clients and demand accountability. Our goal for every claim is delivering an exceptional client experience and obtaining just compensation for our clients’ injuries.
At Crosley Law, we will provide you with honest legal advice and consistently inform you with status updates and real-time advice about your case. Please don’t hesitate to contact our office today. You can call Crosley Law at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or fill use our quick and easy contact form.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (2019, December). Fatality Facts: Large Trucks. https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/large-trucks
National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2020, March). Large trucks: 2018 data. (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 812 891). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812891
Pai, J. (2017, August). Trends and Rollover-Reduction Effectiveness of Static Stability Factor in Passenger Vehicles. (Report No. DOT HS 812 444). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Encyclopedia. (n.d.). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. https://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx
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