Truck RolloversTruck Accidents
How They Happen, What Dangers Do They Pose, and What Do I Do Next?
Highways and interstates across the country see a high degree of big truck traffic every day. Those big trucks help transport cargo across all corners of the United States. Big trucks, however, also pose several distinct dangers to the people who share the road with them, including the risk of rollover accidents. Not only do big truck rollover accidents have a high risk of causing serious injury to the occupants of the truck, they may cause severe injury or death to people around the truck at the time of the accident.
What Causes Truck Rollover Accidents?
Tractor-trailers, or 18-wheelers, in particular, often have a high center of gravity. As a result, they may have a higher risk of suffering a rollover accident than other vehicles, especially if they have unstable loads in the back. Truck rollover accidents most often occur from centrifugal force, which causes the truck to lean away from the direction of a curve as it travels along that path. The faster the truck moves, the greater the centrifugal force exerted against the truck, and the higher the risk of an accident.
In general, several factors can contribute to truck rollover accidents.
At high rates of speed, truck drivers may have more trouble controlling their vehicles, especially around sharp turns. The increased centrifugal force associated with a high degree of speed can significantly increase the risk of a rollover accident, whether the rollover occurs because of increased pressure from the turn alone or occurs because the wheels of the truck slip down a sharp incline.
Driver Negligence or Distraction
Experienced truck drivers know the risks they may face when they drive down curving roads. In the mountains or areas with sharp curves, drivers must exercise additional caution to reduce the risk of an accident and keep the truck on track. Unfortunately, truck drivers may easily get distracted as they try to manage their daily runs.
Truck drivers may spend, according to federal regulations, up to 11 hours a day behind the wheel. As a result, truck drivers often have a hard time avoiding distraction or fatigue. They may struggle to keep their attention on the road, even on potentially dangerous roads. Driver negligence or distraction can cause the driver to mistakenly steer the truck too sharply or allow the truck’s wheels to drift over the edge of the road, which may raise the risk of a rollover accident.
Poor Road Conditions
Poor road conditions can occur either due to dangerous weather, including ice and rain, or poor road maintenance. Potholes and bouncy, rutted roads can make it more difficult to steer a big truck, leading to a greater risk that the truck driver will steer too sharply or allow the truck’s wheels to fall off the road. As a result, the truck rolls.
Poorly Loaded Cargo
A truck’s balance depends heavily on the cargo it pulls. Pulling partial loads or underweight loads may not provide enough counterweight to help hold the truck to the road, which may raise the risk of an accident considerably. Truck drivers may also struggle with overloaded vehicles, which may change the balance of the truck’s weight so that it becomes even more top-heavy and has an even greater risk of rolling over at high levels of force. In addition, a truck with an unbalanced load, especially one that falls during a turn, may have a higher risk of causing a rollover accident.
Lack of Maintenance on the Truck
Not only do road conditions matter when driving a truck, the condition of the truck itself can have a heavy impact on the risk of a rollover accident. Truck drivers should check their trucks before and after every trip to ensure that they do not have damage that could impact the load.
Drivers must inspect the tires, steering, mirrors, and lights as well as the brakes before heading out on each load, since those elements may impact the driver’s ability to successfully navigate everything from turns to sharp stops. Many fleets, however, do not take care of adequate maintenance on their vehicles, which may lead to increased accident risk, including an increased risk of rollover accidents.
The Hazards Associated with Truck Rollover Accidents
Fully loaded, big trucks may weigh up to 80,000 pounds. With the average passenger vehicle weighing around 3,000 to 4,000 pounds, a big truck rollover can cause extreme crushing damage to the passenger vehicles around it and the passengers in them. Truck rollover accidents can result in severe injuries, including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, and death.
Truck rollover accidents also cause immense damage to the truck, which may require special equipment to remove from the scene. People at the scene of a truck rollover accident must exercise immense caution when navigating near the truck to avoid further damage.
What to Do After a Truck Rollover Accident
A big truck rolled over near you and caused an accident. You may have had enough luck to escape serious, immediately noticeable injury, or you may have noticed the severity of your injuries immediately. Whatever the case, the actions you take immediately after a truck rollover accident can help determine how well you recover and your financial status after the accident.
Step One: Summon the police to the scene of the accident.
Always report a truck rollover accident immediately. First responders can help prevent further injury at the scene of the accident and give everyone a better idea of what to do next, including how to protect existing injuries. After a truck rollover accident, the police may need to barricade off the scene of the accident or redirect traffic, both to protect the individuals injured in the accident and to keep traffic flowing as smoothly as possible.
In addition, the police can write a report regarding the accident. That report can establish exactly when your accident occurred and what may have caused or contributed to that accident. The police may also make note of witnesses to the accident, who can prove critical in helping you seek the compensation you deserve after you sustain serious injuries in an accident.
Step Two: Let a doctor evaluate your injuries.
You may believe that you managed to walk away from a truck rollover accident. The immense size of a big truck, however, means that a great deal of force goes into a truck rollover accident. You may suffer serious injuries that you do not even realize you have, especially if the accident occurred at a high rate of speed.
Do not put off medical care after a truck rollover accident. Instead, visit a hospital or urgent care facility immediately for a full evaluation of the injuries you may have suffered. A doctor can ensure that you get the treatment you need for those injuries, rather than ignoring them or avoiding treatment.
You may, for example, discover that you hit your head and suffered a traumatic brain injury, even though you do not remember hitting your head in the accident. You might discover that you suffered broken bones or even spinal cord injuries that you did not notice immediately after the accident. The longer you wait to receive treatment for these injuries, the more you can accidentally worsen your condition, leading to the need for further treatment and greater medical costs.
Not only can seeking medical treatment immediately after a truck rollover accident increase your odds of recovery, the doctor’s statement and your medical records will establish when your injuries took place, and therefore who bears liability for them.
You can, and should, prioritize medical treatment at the scene of the accident, regardless of what else needs to happen or what takes place around you. You may, for example, need to leave before giving a statement to the police, especially if you have suffered severe blood loss or serious injuries that require immediate medical care. You do not have to stay at the scene of the accident and wait to speak to the police if you need to leave to receive the medical treatment you need.
If you do not seek immediate medical attention. The adrenaline from a serious accident can cause people to do things they would not otherwise do, including leaving the scene of an accident and foregoing medical attention even when they know they may have serious injuries. That same adrenaline can also cover up the impact of the injuries, making it difficult for the injured party to determine the full extent of those injuries at the time of the accident.
Then, as time passes, you may realize that you suffered more serious injuries than you initially thought. You may have serious symptoms of whiplash, including ongoing neck pain or difficulty turning your head. After the accident, you may realize that stiffness in a limb actually indicates a broken bone, which may require serious medical intervention to treat.
If you did not seek medical attention immediately after your truck rollover accident, you may still have grounds for a truck accident claim. Seek medical attention as soon as possible after the accident and document your injuries and the medical care you need.
Step Three: Contact a Truck Accident Attorney
As soon after your truck rollover accident as possible, get in touch with an experienced truck accident attorney. An attorney can go over your right to compensation, help you negotiate with the insurance company, and make it easier for you to learn more about your legal rights following the accident. In many cases, an attorney can also help you understand the maneuvers the insurance company may use to reduce the compensation you can receive for your injuries and help you avoid them when possible.
Investigating a Truck Rollover Accident
After the truck rollover accident, your attorney can help investigate the accident to determine all factors that may have contributed to the accident, which may also serve to help you increase the compensation you can receive for those injuries. Investigating a truck rollover accident can prove very complex, since it may involve numerous accidents. Your attorney may want to look at:
The Accident Itself
The attorney may start by looking into the accident itself. What caused the accident? What factors may have contributed? For example, did poor maintenance on the truck lead to slick tires that failed to hold the road? Did the truck driver take the turn too fast or too sharply? Did another driver contribute to the accident by pulling out or stopping abruptly in front of a big truck? All these factors may influence who caused a big truck rollover accident.
The Trucking Company
Many trucking companies have dangerous policies that can increase the risk that their drivers will cause an accident. A trucking company that has a policy regarding tight delivery times, for example, may encourage drivers to speed. Companies could also pressure their drivers to drive for more than the federally limited number of hours, which could increase driver fatigue.
The Truck’s Load
A truck’s load can heavily influence the risk of a rollover accident. Too heavy or too light, and the truck may have an increased risk of rolling over. Likewise, an unbalanced load can significantly increase accident risk. An attorney can help evaluate the load, including how the load went into the truck and who loaded it, to determine whether those factors could have influenced the accident and your injuries.
A dangerous, improperly graded, or tilted road can raise the risk of rollover crashes in a specific area, while missing guardrails can send vehicles catapulting out of control down sharp inclines. Your attorney may need to take a look at the road conditions and how they may have influenced your truck accident.
If you suffered injuries in a truck rollover accident, an attorney may need to look at multiple aspects of the accident to determine what factors may have contributed to the accident and what compensation you deserve. Do not wait to contact a truck accident attorney who can help you navigate the aftermath of your accident.