You have always been wary of driving next to a big rig on the highway. You make sure to give the driver as much space as possible, only pass on the right, and never ride side-by-side. You thought you would be prepared to stop in time if the driver ever slammed on his brakes—but you never expected the trailer to fly open and spill boxes onto the road. Can you still sue the driver for causing a truck accident even if his vehicle never made contact with yours?
Semis That Lose Trailers in Transit Can Be Held Liable for More Than a Crash
In cases where a trailer opens, jackknifes, or detaches, the injuries to the drivers around it may be catastrophic. Not only can victims and their families get payment for injuries and loss of life, they are also able to hold the trucking company for punitive damage, ensuring that the company does not make similar mistakes in the future that could put others at risk.
Truckers and their employers can be held liable for a number of accidents caused by unsecured trailers, including:
- Spills. Semi-trucks carry many different types of cargo from foods and furniture to garbage and hazardous liquids. If the trailer door flies open in transit, unsecured cargo may fall into the road, causing the following vehicles to swerve onto the shoulder, or even into each other to avoid hitting it.
- Jackknifing. There are two ways a trailer can jackknife. In the first, the truck slams on its brakes and the trailer rolls vertically upward into the cab. In the second—and more common—way, the truck loses control of the cab and “fishtails” until the trailer swings around and lines up with the side of the rig. Vehicles are often caught, or even crushed, in the space between the trailer and the cab.
- Runaway trailers. A semi that has lost its trailer becomes an immediate threat to all drivers. The trailer will usually roll into traffic or down an incline, and because it has no brakes, it cannot be stopped until it hits something.
- Underride accidents. When a trailer detaches, it will lose momentum as it pulls away from the cab, getting closer and closer to the vehicle behind it. A smaller vehicle stuck behind the trailer can be forced underneath it, shearing the top off of the car and pinning it beneath the trailer.
In cases where a trucker lost control of his trailer, victims have a good chance of recovering a settlement for their injuries. The driver, loader, and the trucking company may be held liable for your medical bills and the replacement costs of your vehicle--but to find out which one you should file a claim against, you should speak to an experienced truck accident attorney who can have the accident investigated. Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation today.