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The massive size and weight of trucks make them intimidating vehicles with which to share the road. Whether traveling through rural Wisconsin on I-90 or through the heart of Minneapolis on I-94, you encounter commercial trucks and big rigs everywhere in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
But just because you see large trucks often doesn’t make sharing the road with them any less intimidating, especially at highway speeds that can turn a small error or mishap into a deadly problem.
Trucks often weigh 20 to 30 times more than a passenger vehicle and are top-heavy because of their size and cargo. When such massive vehicles have to make quick maneuvers or navigate turns or road curves too fast, they can easily roll over and cause massive damage, severe injuries, and tragic losses of life.
Let’s take a closer look at how truck rollovers happen, the harm they cause, and how a lawyer can help truck rollover accident victims get the compensation they need.
Truck rollover accidents tend to happen when trucks encounter these driving scenarios, and the truck’s driver fails to respond appropriately.
Trucks are top-heavy vehicles. That means they may need to take wide turns at relatively slow speeds to stay safe. Trucks risk a rollover when their drivers try to navigate a turn too sharply or quickly. In this scenario, the weight of the truck shifts to one side, lifting the opposite side of the truck and trailer off the ground in the direction of the turn, which leads to a rollover.
In the same manner, a large truck risks rolling over when it turns too sharply or quickly, a truck that enters a curved on or off-ramp, or a curve in the road, at high speed risks tipping over. The risk of a rollover on a ramp or curve increases further if the road surface is uneven or rough, which can make a loss of control more likely.
Because of the sheer size and weight of tractor-trailers, they take much longer than passenger vehicles to slow down and come to a safe stop. If another vehicle cuts in front of a truck or stops too quickly in the truck’s path, the truck driver may slam on the brakes and cause them to lock up, resulting in a dangerous loss of control. The truck can start to skid and, at a high enough speed, tip over on its side. Skid-related rollover accidents also happen during winter months in Minnesota and Wisconsin, when the roads are slick.
Spins can also happen because of a large truck’s brakes locking up. Often occurring when the truck is going at a slower rate of speed, a spinning truck can take out several lanes of traffic. When the truck hits other vehicles, it can then begin to roll over.
Braking or swerving suddenly can cause a tractor-trailer to jackknife, which is when the trailer and cab of a big rig fold toward each other like the blade of a pocket knife. A jackknife leads to a loss of control and, in turn, can trigger a rollover.
Truck rollover accidents can have numerous contributing causes, but oftentimes those causes share one common trait: they result from human error. While machines break down and may cause accidents on occasion, far-more-often truck accidents happen because someone involved in the operation, maintenance, or loading of the truck made a fateful mistake. Here are some of the parties whose mistaken decisions or actions commonly end up causing a rollover truck accident.
Drivers of trucks and of the vehicles that share the roads with trucks commonly make mistakes that cause truck rollover accidents. Truck drivers may, for example, drive too fast to navigate a turn or sharp curve safely, or fail to keep track of smaller vehicles in their blind spots. Drivers of passenger vehicles can trigger rollovers by engaging in sudden, unpredictable maneuvers that prompt truck drivers to slam on the brakes or swerve dangerously to avoid a collision, leading to a rollover. Experienced truck accident injury lawyers routinely look first at the actions of the drivers of the vehicles involved in evaluating the cause of a rollover accident.
The party shipping goods in a truck could also make mistakes that contribute to the cause of a rollover accident. In particular, shippers must make sure to load and secure cargo so as not to throw the truck out of balance. Improper loading can make a large truck even more top-heavy than it already is, increasing the risk of a rollover. In fact, even at otherwise safe speeds, unsecured or unbalanced cargo can shift and cause a truck to tip.
Trucking companies often operate fleets of trucks and employ numerous drivers. In conducting their business, they must maintain trucks in safe working order, only put drivers behind the wheel who have the skills and qualifications to operate a truck responsibly, and monitor the performance of both trucks and drivers to ensure continued safe practices. A trucking company that fails in any of these basic tasks can create conditions in which the risk of a truck getting into a rollover accident increases.
Even mechanical and electrical defects in a truck can result from human errors. Manufacturers of trucks and truck parts must take care to ensure the quality of their products. Mistakes on the assembly line or in selecting materials for trucking components can form the first link in the chain of events that leads to a truck experiencing a catastrophic mechanical failure and, in turn, a rollover accident.
Rollover accidents cause nearly half of all deaths resulting from large truck accidents. Even rollovers that do not result in fatalities risk causing severe injuries to drivers and passengers of trucks and other vehicles.
The most common injuries in truck rollover accidents include:
Any of these rollover accident injuries can cause lifelong consequences for victims and their families. A severe injury will usually cause pain, disability, emotional trauma, and significant financial hardship. Victims of rollover accidents may lose the ability to work, go to school, or live independently. They may need around-the-clock care, multiple surgeries, or mobility devices to help them get around.
Rollover accident victims should never have to pay for those challenges out of their own pockets if the crash happened because of someone else’s mistake. Instead, the law entitles them to compensation for their injuries and losses.
With the help of a skilled truck rollover accident lawyer, injured rollover accident victims and families of victims who tragically perish in a rollover can seek compensation from the at-fault parties by taking legal action. Typically, a lawyer can secure compensation for victims by pursuing lawsuits and insurance claims.
Every case is different, but rollover accident lawyers can often secure compensation to pay for victims’:
The amount of money a victim may receive as compensation varies based on the severity of the injuries, their impacts on the victim’s life, the strength of the case a lawyer can build against the at-fault parties, and the amount of insurance or assets the at-fault parties have to pay as damages to the rollover accident victims.
In that respect, lawyers for rollover crash victims often tackle two challenging tasks at once. They must investigate the accident to identify all parties who may owe damages to their client, and they must carefully evaluate the full scope of the harm their client has suffered, to make sure that any legal action they take on a client’s behalf seeks the maximum amount of damages available under the law.
The first task, in particular, can test the skills of anything but the most seasoned lawyer. Lots of individuals and businesses can face legal and financial liability in a rollover crash. They will often quickly start pointing fingers at each other, and even sometimes at victims, in hopes of avoiding their obligation to pay damages. A lawyer for rollover accident victims may need to act quickly, and in multiple courts, to protect an injured client’s rights.
In the scramble to avoid financial responsibility for a truck rollover, insurance companies for potentially at-fault parties sometimes make settlement offers directly to accident victims. This can come across as a generous gesture, but frequently, it’s a tactic that can harm victims more than help them.
Few rollover accident victims have a clear understanding of the full scope of their physical, emotional, and financial injuries in the immediate aftermath of a crash. Insurance companies take advantage of this by offering settlements that fall far short of the money victims may ultimately deserve and that they could receive if they hired a lawyer and pursued their rights.
Accepting a settlement offer means giving up the right to sue the party making it for additional damages. Victims who agree to a settlement that’s too low often realize, too late, that they needed far more money than they received, and that the party they settled with had the financial resources to pay them what they actually deserved had they just negotiated for it.
Experienced rollover accident lawyers know how to protect their clients against these tactics. They can handle the negotiations with insurance companies and defense lawyers, to make sure their clients receive fair settlements from every party who has liability for the accident and the ability to pay.
The days and weeks after suffering severe injuries in a rollover truck accident can feel like a blur for victims and their families. Many do not realize, however, that they may need to take quick legal action to protect their rights to compensation.
As we mentioned above, truck accidents, and rollovers in particular tend to affect the legal and financial interests of multiple parties, including truck drivers, trucking companies, shippers, and other motorists. Rollovers can also cause widespread damage and injuries, which means that the at-fault parties face potentially large liabilities.
Businesses especially, when threatened with large losses from a rollover accident, may take legal action of their own to limit the damage. They may, as we said, try to settle quickly with as many victims as possible. Or, they may seek the protection of a bankruptcy court. Or, the less scrupulous among them may try to hide evidence or deflect blame to other parties.
Victims need a skilled attorney by their side in these moments, to make sure that nothing an at-fault party does harms their right to receive fair compensation. That lawyer should have experience in rollover accidents, a working knowledge of the trucking industry, and the resources to pursue multiple negotiations and legal actions at once, if necessary.
Except for truck drivers, victims of truck rollover accidents rarely bear any of the blame for what happened. They suffered injuries through no fault of their own, and deserve compensation. But they must act quickly.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries and losses in a truck rollover accident, then by hiring an experienced truck accident injury lawyer, you may have the ability to obtain significant financial compensation. Contact a skilled attorney today to learn more in a free, no-obligation case consultation.