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.
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:
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 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 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.
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.
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 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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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