Although not the most common type of commercial truck accident, rollover crashes can be especially deadly because a truck can flip multiple times—often right into oncoming vehicles. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), rollovers were the cause of four percent of all fatalities and two percent of nonfatal truck accidents in 2015.
If you or a family member was injured in a rollover truck accident, the cause is most likely truck driver negligence. If so, you'll need the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney to hold him and any other liable parties responsible for injury compensation.
Major Causes of Truck Rollover Wrecks
A common scenario when a rollover occurs is if the truck driver is in danger of causing a head-on collision and swerves quickly to avoid the impact. The question is: what prompted that over-correction? Possibilities include:
- Speeding. A truck driver will have less control when speeding than a passenger vehicle driver. Speeding is a major cause of rollover wrecks, especially when the trucker is navigating curves or on highway exit and entrance ramps.
- Cargo shifts. When cargo isn't loaded or secured properly, it can shift during transport. This might cause trailer instability that's difficult to control.
- Distraction. A trucker who is texting, talking on a cellphone, looking at his GPS, or is otherwise distracted while driving faces a number of hazards. He may not see obstacles in the road or notice he's veering into other lanes or oncoming traffic until he needs to make a sudden, emergency move.
- Steering. This is a basic driving skill that every trucker should be able to competently perform. Yet many truckers make the mistake of not steering properly to stay in their lanes or overcorrecting unnecessarily.
- Poor brakes. Fleet companies and commercial truck drivers are required to maintain, repair, and replace a truck’s brakes. Unfortunately, some companies and/or drivers may overlook regular maintenance intervals due to the cost and time the truck will be off the road. Even worse, some company supervisors issue directives to depower the truck’s brakes and make a driver rely on trailer brakes to slow and stop the truck. They do this to save on the brakes’ wear and tear, but sacrifice the safety of other motorists. Defective brakes—or tires—can also lead to a trucker being unable to prevent a rollover wreck.
- Driver fatigue. When truck drivers violate the federal hours of service regulations regarding how long they can drive without a break, they can become fatigued or fall asleep at the wheel.
- Dangerous roads. In some cases, defects in the road force a trucker into a rollover or at least contribute to the wreck. These cases can be especially complicated because governmental entities could face liability.
Liable Parties in a Rollover Truck Accident
Often victims of truck rollover accidents suffer catastrophic injuries, especially if it's a multi-vehicle incident. With a greater number of injured persons involved, a legal defense considers naming more liable entities in the lawsuit. This may increase the likelihood that you receive the full amount of compensation that you deserve.
Here are possible at-fault parties:
- Truck driver. Operator negligence is often the major cause or at least a contributing factor in a rollover accident, making the trucker responsible for compensating you.
- Transportation company. If the trucker’s negligence caused your injuries, you may be able to hold the trucking company vicariously liable for the actions of its employee. You could also have a separate legal claim, such as negligent hiring or violation of federal regulations governing the industry, which may make your case even stronger.
- Cargo loader. If the goods were improperly loaded or secured, the shipper could be found negligent.
- Maintenance facility. Some fleet companies contract with a maintenance facility to handle regular service and repairs. If lack of maintenance of the truck’s brakes, tires, or other components caused the truck to rollover, you should file a claim with the facility’s insurance company. Because drivers and companies have a duty to inspect the truck components on a regular basis, you could have claims against these parties as well.
- Parts manufacturer. If a brake, tire, or other truck part was defective and this caused your accident, you may have a products liability claim against the manufacturer.
- Municipality. When dangerous road conditions caused the rollover, you would need to file a claim with the municipality responsible for its maintenance. There are different time periods to notify a municipality and other rules you must follow when pursuing a claim against a governmental entity, so hiring a knowledgeable truck accident attorney soon after your wreck is essential.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a truck rollover accident, you'll need the assistance of an experienced truck accident lawyer to identify the cause of the wreck and all liable parties. Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.