In October, a truck carrying Shiitake mushrooms overturned on I-24 near the ramp leading onto the Silliman Evans Bridge and I-40 in Tennessee. It created a traffic jam for hours. Cases of fertilizer and nutrients spilled onto the highway and then onto an avenue below. The driver was taken to the hospital with injuries that were non-life-threatening. Law enforcement rerouted traffic, and the scene was cleared.
Trucks may roll over or overturn for many reasons. One possible reason is that when a tractor trailer travels along a curved path, force and a high center of gravity cause it to push away from the curve’s direction, resulting in a rollover. If a truck driver fails to adjust his speed, the condition of the brakes, the road surface, and the acuteness degree of the curve can push the truck over.
Another possible reason is an unstable load or improperly loaded cargo that alters the balance. There are federal and state regulations related to loads, but they are not always followed. Drivers may fail to take account of their own weight and height when loading cargo.
A truck driver’s inattention can also lead to situations in which a sudden movement in direction can result in a rollover. Truck drivers may be sleepy for numerous reasons, including a failure to follow hours of service rules, prescription medication, alcohol, drugs, or simply something distracting on the radio. When the truck driver realizes he has to react to an emergency situation, he may jerk the wheel to avoid a collision and cause the truck to roll over.
Another possible reason for a rollover is over-steering. For example, a truck driver who doesn’t steer enough to stay in a lane or a driver who overcorrects to the point of having to counter-steer in order to stay on the road may cause the truck to tip.
A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) study found that truck rollovers and overturning accidents are the deadliest ones. They happen most frequently, as with the accident described above, on interstate ramps or inclines.
If a truck overturns and causes injuries, people who are injured may be able to collect damages in a truck accident lawsuit. Injury victims may be able to sue the driver for negligence or negligence per se. Generally, this means that the victim will have to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the truck driver did not drive safely and that the failure to do so was the legal cause of the accident. However, in many rollover cases, a truck driver’s individual insurance policy has insufficient coverage to cover the needs of all the people injured by the truck driver’s negligence.
It can be helpful to look for ways in which the accident may have been a trucking company’s fault. One way is to allege vicarious liability, which is a form of derivative liability, whereby a trucking company can be held responsible for its employee if the employee was in the course and scope of business at the time of the negligent actions that led to the accident.
Another way is to allege direct liability causes of action, such as negligent hiring or negligent supervision, against the trucking company. Still another possible way to recover the full scope of damages is to pursue them from a company hired to load the truck.
If you are injured or a loved one is killed in a truck accident in Tennessee or elsewhere in the surrounding region, such as in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, or Kentucky, it is crucial to retain attorneys who understand this area of the law. Contact Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 1-800-529-4004 or through our online form to set up a free consultation.