A truck is inherently less stable than a passenger car, which increases the risk of flipping onto its top or side. Sometimes a rollover occurs when a truck strikes an obstacle such as a traffic barrier or curb. However, these accidents do not necessarily result from a collision. A rollover may happen when a truck is not properly loaded or when a truck driver speeds or suddenly changes lanes. Turning too fast also may cause a rollover. Distracted or drowsy driving may contribute to these accidents. Sometimes problems with truck equipment may cause a rollover as well.
When a large truck rolls over, it may strike other vehicles or cause an explosion that injures people in the vicinity. These accidents are more likely than many types of truck accidents to cause deaths or serious injuries. Often, people around the truck have no time to avoid the rollover or cannot move out of the way.
Whom to Sue After a Rollover Truck Accident
The events leading to each accident will determine who was at fault, but generally a victim will sue one or more of the following parties:
The driver of the truck
The trucking company that employed the driver
The manufacturer of the truck or a component
A third party that loaded the truck
Errors by a truck driver may lead to liability for the trucking company even if it was not directly responsible for causing the crash. This is based on the legal doctrine of vicarious liability, which holds an employer accountable for careless actions by an employee. To trigger vicarious liability, a victim would need to show that the driver acted carelessly while they were on the job. They also might sue a trucking company under a theory of direct liability, such as negligent hiring, retention, or supervision. This might be appropriate if a trucking company hired an unqualified driver or turned a blind eye to unsafe conduct by its drivers, among other situations.
Proving the liability of a truck manufacturer may differ from proving the liability of a driver or trucking company. Claims against drivers or trucking companies are usually based on negligence, which means that the driver or company caused the accident by failing to use reasonable care. In contrast, a claim against a truck manufacturer may be based on strict liability. This does not require proving a lack of reasonable care. A victim instead must show that the product released by the manufacturer contained a defect that caused their injuries.
Damages in Truck Accident Cases
Most truck accident damages are classified as compensatory damages, which means that they are designed to put the victim in a position as close as possible to their position if the accident had not occurred. Common types of compensatory damages include lost income, medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. If a rollover accident has caused permanent disabilities or other serious injuries, a victim may be able to recover damages for future losses, such as future medical treatment or lost earning capacity.
In addition to compensatory damages, punitive damages may be available in extreme cases. These are awarded to punish a defendant and deter others from acting similarly. Punitive damages often require proof of gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct.
Unfortunately, some rollover accidents cause a tragic loss of life. Certain family members of the victim, as designated by state law, can receive damages for their losses resulting from the fatal accident. These may include damages for the loss of the consortium, services, support, and assistance provided by the victim. Meanwhile, the estate of the victim can receive damages that the victim could have received had they survived. These may include compensation for medical costs and lost income incurred by the victim before their death, as well as any conscious pain and suffering.