Phoenix Runaway Trailer Accident Attorneys
Tractor-trailers are not like passenger cars. The suspension, transmission, and braking systems on a large truck are all designed to handle and generate far more force than their smaller counterparts. Occasionally, essential systems fail or drivers make mistakes, which can easily lead to multi-vehicle crashes on major highways. In particular, many dangerous situations have occurred when a truck’s trailer has a problem.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a truck or trailer, you need legal help. Contact Breyer Law Offices, P.C., and let us fight for the compensation that you are entitled to. To speak with a member of our team, call (602) 457-6222.
Are you entitled to compensation for your runaway trailer accident injuries? Call (602) 457-6222 to speak with a lawyer.
Generally, these accidents occur when a truck's braking system fails partially or completely. The most common circumstance that can lead to a runaway trailer is: after a long downhill incline, a truck without working brakes can build up extraordinary momentum. When that momentum overwhelms the brakes, the truck may begin accelerating out of control, taking cars and obstacles with it. If you have ever seen upward-inclined ramps coming off the highway “for trucks only,” their purpose is to help prevent a runaway truck.
At the same time, a trailer can become wholly detached from its hitch and hurdle out of control, no longer following the cab of the truck. These runaway trailers can crash into another vehicle by themselves, or come to a stop in the middle of the roadway and present a hazard to other drivers. Either way, there’s no escape.
According to Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 28-1098, truck drivers are responsible for properly securing their loads. They must ensure the load does not drop, shift, leak, or otherwise escape from the vehicle. Tractor-trailers transport a range of goods and products, some of which can be inherently dangerous and pose risks when improperly loaded and secured. Improperly loaded cargo can create several crash risks, including:
- Balance and weight distribution – Cargo that is improperly loaded on a commercial truck may be prone to shifting during transit. This can compromise the balance of a truck and create uneven weight distribution, making the truck more prone to jackknifing, rollovers, and other accidents.
- Falling cargo – When a trailer is not properly secured, there is a risk of cargo falling off, or disconnecting from the truck. Falling cargo may strike vehicles nearby or create considerable roadway hazards that lead to accidents, especially on highways and roads where vehicles travel at high speeds and have less time to react.
- Hazardous materials – Hazardous materials are transported in trucks throughout the country, which is why these materials must be secured: to reduce not only crashes caused by spills or other roadway hazards, but also risks associated with explosions, fires, or exposing local motorists or communities to toxic substances.
In addition to Arizona’s laws, there are also federal rules for cargo securement on a truck, issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. If you want to file a claim against a trucker, make sure you have an attorney who is familiar with both federal and state trucking laws.
At first glance, an overloaded semi-truck looks like any other truck on the road. However, overloading can pose a great risk to everyone on the highway, including the truck driver himself. Overloaded trucks cause problems that may result in horrific accidents, including:
- Reduced responsiveness: Trucks that exceed weight limits will be more difficult to stop and maneuver in a safe manner. They are also more prone to tip-overs or jackknife accidents caused by balance issues. Even if cargo is properly secured, added weight can substantially reduce a driver’s ability to safely steer and control his trailer.
- Mechanical problems: Excessive weight may lead to mechanical problems and failures that can cause devastating accidents suddenly and without warning. Mechanical problems can compromise a driver’s ability to control his truck and prevent him from avoiding collisions. Issues such as engine failure and sudden stalls on high-speed roads, tire blowouts, and brake failures have been known to occur as the result of an overloaded trailer.
- Worse crashes: Heavier trucks have more momentum and cause more damage, and serious or catastrophic injuries to occupants of smaller vehicles involved in potential collisions.
While the truck driver may be the only one at the scene of an accident, there are many people responsible for ensuring a truck’s trailer is safe and secure. Any one of these people could be found liable for an accident involving a trailer, including:
- Truck drivers: Truckers are typically responsible for inspecting their shipments throughout their route to ensure each load is secured. There may be some exceptions to this, such as if the driver has been asked to not disrupt enclosed cargo. Still, the truck driver will likely be a large part of any trailer accident case.
- The trucking company: These companies hire drivers to operate their trucks, and they must ensure that their drivers are qualified, trained in safety regulations. They can be held responsible for most bad behavior on the part of truck drivers. When a trucking company fails to ensure that a driver is competent, qualified, and understands the rules of the road, they can be held liable.
- Third parties: Other parties that helped load or maintain the truck may also be found liable in a trailer accident. This can include the company that hired the loader, or the broker that originally arranged for the cargo to be shipped. Determining who the third parties are requires an extensive investigation that can present its own challenges.
Filing a civil claim against a truck driver, trucking company, or anyone who works for them can be overwhelming. Trucking companies have their own teams of lawyers, and a book of tactics that can stall a case entirely. They may offer a settlement just to avoid a lawsuit, and that settlement will rarely be enough to cover the cost of the victim’s injuries.
If you want help getting compensation that will cover your medical bills, your injuries, your emotional and mental trauma, your physical therapy, your lost income, and other damages, you need The Husband and Wife Law Team. For a free consultation from a top-rated Phoenix truck accident attorney, contact Breyer Law Offices, P.C., at (602) 457-6222.
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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer