Serious accidents can occur when a trailer carrying cargo gets detached from a truck. The trailer may veer out of control across a highway or other road, striking vehicles in its path. Runaway trailer accidents often happen when the truck and the trailer move at different speeds. This issue also can cause the driver to lose control of the truck, even if the trailer remains attached.
Common causes of runaway trailer accidents include errors by truck drivers in operating these complex vehicles. For example, a driver might speed or drive too fast for road or weather conditions. A driver also might make a turn or slam on the brakes too abruptly, or they might fail to carefully navigate a steep grade. However, some factors leading to runaway trailer accidents may not involve driving errors. Brakes or other components of the truck may fail due to defects or improper maintenance. Overloading the trailer also may cause a runaway trailer accident.
Hazardous Road Conditions
Sometimes a government entity may be partly responsible for a runaway trailer accident if it failed to adequately maintain the road where the crash occurred. Claims against the government may trigger distinctive procedural rules and may need to be filed sooner than ordinary personal injury lawsuits.
Pursuing Compensation for a Runaway Trailer Accident
Since these crashes have several potential causes, it may not be immediately obvious what caused a runaway trailer accident and who was responsible. In some cases, a victim may pursue damages from multiple parties, such as a driver, a trucking company, and a truck manufacturer. Even if only the driver was directly responsible for the crash, a claim may name the trucking company that employed them as a defendant. This is because the principle of vicarious liability holds an employer accountable for the careless actions of an employee while they are on the job. However, sometimes trucking companies are directly at fault, such as when they use vehicles with known defects or fail to arrange for maintenance when appropriate. A truck maintenance company also may be liable for errors in performing repairs.
Defective brakes that cause a crash may lead to liability for the manufacturer of the brakes. While a claim against a driver or trucking company usually will assert a negligence theory, a claim against a manufacturer may rely on a strict liability theory. Negligence involves proving that a defendant failed to use reasonable care under the circumstances. In contrast, strict liability involves showing that a product was defective in terms of how it was made or designed.
Rollover accidents may cause life-changing injuries to multiple victims. Therefore, damages awarded in these cases may take many forms. Common examples of damages include:
Costs of future medical treatment
Lost earning capacity
Pain and suffering
Lost enjoyment of life
To protect their right to compensation, a victim should file their lawsuit promptly. Evidence may decay or disappear soon after an accident, and a rule known as the statute of limitations restricts the time in which they can file a claim. If a victim does not sue before the statute of limitations expires, their case may be dismissed even if the truck driver, the trucking company, or another defendant was clearly at fault for their injuries.
Free Consultations With Attorneys
Most truck accident lawyers offer free consultations to prospective clients. These allow a victim to find out about the strength and potential value of their claim before deciding whether and how to proceed.