Rollover Truck Accident Attorney

Tulsa Rollover Truck Accident Attorney

Large trucks of the tractor-trailer type are quite tall and very heavy as compared to other vehicles that share the roadway. They have a high center of gravity, and they may be carrying an unstable load. When large trucks are combined with certain driver behaviors and road conditions, rollover accidents can occur.

Truck rollover accidents do not occur as frequently as other types of truck accidents but when they do occur they usually have very serious if not fatal results. Driver behavior is the most likely reason that truck rollover accidents occur. Aggressive driving and mistakes in judgment can precipitate a truck to roll along the longitudinal axis to one side, crushing whatever might get in the way.

How a Tulsa Rollover Truck Accident Attorney Can Help

When someone gets injured in a rollover truck accident, they may have claims against several parties relating to the truck and the driver. It’s important to understand who might be responsible for the injuries and property damage caused by the accident. Determining the extent of the injuries and a fair amount of compensation requires knowledge of medical conditions and how to value their damage. An attorney will do the following:

  • Identify all potentially responsible parties
  • Investigate to determine the extent of liability of each party
  • Communicate with insurance companies and attorneys for other parties
  • Understand the injuries that were suffered and how they may impact a client’s future
  • Properly value injuries and put together a comprehensive claim for damages
Why Trucks Roll Over

Trucks roll over because they cannot remain balanced on their wheels. This is usually the result of trying to turn too quickly or having one side of the vehicle drop or rise suddenly. Trucks typically need a wide turning radius and a longer amount of time to negotiate many traffic conditions that may be present on a roadway.

According to the accepted laws of motion, when trucks attempt to turn, they are making a circular motion that subjects them to something called centrifugal force. Centrifugal force is experienced as an outward pulling force that pulls in the opposite direction of the way a truck may be turning. That force may be stronger or weaker depending on:

  • The weight of the truck
  • The speed of the truck
  • How tight the turn is that the truck is trying to make
What Most Often Causes Trucks to Roll Over

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) did a study on the reasons why large trucks get into rollover accidents. They determined that the majority of causes of truck rollover crashes were something done or not done by the truck drivers. The study found these seven contributing factors to truck rollovers.

  • Speed excessive to circumstances
  • Lack of attention to driving
  • Errors in vehicle control
  • Inadequate visual inspection of external surroundings
  • Unsecure or unstable load
  • Other drivers
  • Mechanical failure
Speed and Truck Rollovers

Speed is the predominant contributing factor to truck rollover accidents. But it is not necessarily speed over the posted speed limit. More often, the speed traveled is just too fast for either the road conditions or the truck’s ability to safely navigate the road because of something to do with the truck itself.

A truck driver may misjudge the speed at which a driving maneuver can safely be made. Or a driver may be in too much of a hurry to properly adjust a truck’s speed to match the driving conditions. A driver may not realize the need to slow down due to the nature of the load being carried. The mechanical capabilities of the truck might be limited in a way that requires a slower speed for safety.

Truck Rollovers due to Lack of Attention

Inattention is the second most often found reason for truck rollover crashes. Not having an accurate awareness of circumstances going on outside the truck can result in the driver’s need to react more quickly than the truck can safely respond. Truck drivers may drive for long periods of time and become drowsy or fall asleep at the wheel. Drivers can also get distracted using electronic devices while driving.

Errors in Truck Control Causing Rollovers

Driver error when controlling the motion of the truck is the third most common contributor to rollovers. Steering improperly and overcorrecting a steering mistake are the primary ways drivers maneuver trucks into rollover accidents.

Truck Rollover Accident Statistics

Truck rollovers make up only about 4% of the accidents that result in fatal crashes. Most of the truck accidents resulting in fatalities are collisions between a truck and another vehicle. Between 2017 and 2019, the FMCSA compiled the following statistics about large truck accidents:

  • Most fatal accidents occur between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Most injury accidents occur between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Most fatal and injury crashes occur during the week – with Tuesdays recording the highest numbers
  • The weather is clear 70% of the time
  • 80% of truck accidents occur on dry roads
  • It’s usually daylight
  • Persons aged 26 – 35 are most often injured or killed in accidents with large trucks
  • Truck speed is most often between 50 – 55 mph when accidents occur
Hazards Posed by Cargo Tank Truck Rollovers

Tractor-trailer trucks carry all kinds of different cargo. When a truck gets in a rollover accident, its cargo may dump or spill onto the roadway. Sometimes that cargo can present an additional hazard if the cargo is toxic or flammable. The load of cargo tank trucks is liquid which presents additional challenges for drivers when it comes to avoiding rollover accidents.

Liquid cargo is subject to slosh and surge where the weight of the cargo can shift suddenly, causing a truck to roll over. Slosh and surge can be amplified by the behavior of the truck’s driver. Driving behaviors that increase slosh and surge can result in a truck rollover accident. The following factors increase the likelihood of a slosh and surge rollover truck crash:

  • Speed (the biggest risk factor)
  • Sharp turning radius
  • Sudden braking
  • Sudden maneuvers
  • Load distribution

Unlike many other truck rollover accidents, cargo tank truck rollovers usually occur on straight stretches of road. Over 94% of cargo tank truck rollovers occur when trucks have a partial load which can increase the effect of slosh and surge because of the greater ability of the cargo to move inside the tank.

Who is Responsible for a Truck Rollover Accident?

When a truck rolls over, causing injuries and damage, there may be several parties liable depending on what is determined to have caused the accident. Potentially liable parties can include:

  • The truck driver
  • The truck driver’s employer
  • The owner of the truck – if other than an employer
  • The truck manufacturer
  • A truck parts manufacturer
  • The company/mechanic that services the truck
  • The company responsible for loading the cargo
  • The government agency responsible for road design and maintenance

Determining responsibility for a truck rollover accident involves a detailed investigation into how and why the truck rolled over. There may be no one single cause that resulted in a truck rollover, and liability may be apportioned among several contributing parties.

Types of Injuries That Can Occur When Trucks Roll Over

When any type of passenger vehicle is involved in a truck rollover accident, it can mean serious injuries or death for the occupants of the smaller vehicle. A tractor-trailer truck can weigh 27 times what a passenger vehicle weighs. A truck that rolls over can crush a smaller vehicle or skid into it, smashing it into other objects.

Injuries that can occur as the result of truck rollover accidents may require lengthy medical treatment and may leave an injured party with permanent disabilities. The following injuries are common in truck rollover accidents:

  • Head and brain injuries – trauma to the head can result in serious injury to the brain
  • Back and neck injuries – damage to soft tissue is common but vertebrae may also be injured
  • Spinal cord injuries – significant trauma to the spine can damage the spinal cord and may result in paralysis
  • Lacerations and burns – can limit mobility and cause scarring and disfigurement
  • Fractures and internal injuries – can be serious when an accident causes intrusion into a car’s cabin
  • Death – fatal injuries occur too frequently in truck rollover accidents
Getting Compensation for a Tulsa Rollover Truck Accident

Getting compensation after a truck rollover accident requires that all of the potentially at-fault parties be identified, and responsibility is assigned to those who are liable for the injuries and damage caused. To recover, an injured party must not have more responsibility for causing an accident than the other persons involved.

An injured party may recover expenses that were incurred as a result of the accident for medical treatment and other out-of-pocket costs as well as income that could not be earned due to the injuries. Compensation can also be awarded for the pain, suffering, and other ways quality of life has been diminished.

Helping clients receive full and fair compensation after a rollover truck accident is the mission of the Tulsa personal injury lawyers at Graves McLain. For a free consultation, contact Graves McLain here or call 918-359-6600.

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