Runaway trailer accidents can result in serious or fatal injuries and are more common than most drivers believe. If you have been harmed in this type of truck accident, it's vital that you understand how to proceed with a personal injury claim.
Causes Of Runaway Trailer Accidents
A number of different factors can cause a runaway trailer accident, including:
- Speeding. A knowledgeable truck driver understands the need to consider road conditions, type of cargo, and weight of cargo when determining a safe speed. A speeding driver can easily lose control of their truck.
- Overloaded trailer. Commercial motor vehicles have specific weight limits with regard to cargo capacity. When the trailer is overloaded, tires can blowout, or brakes can fail.
- Sudden or unexpected turns. If the truck jackknifed, the trailer may become detached. Jackknifing is common in adverse weather or if the driver was operating the vehicle in an unsafe manner.
- Steep declines. If a truck is trying to slow down quickly on a steep decline, the driver may have trouble braking.
- Brake failure. If the trailer's brakes don't work in tandem with the tractor's brakes, the trailer can become disconnected. Truck defects of this nature can generally be seen in a pre-trip vehicle inspection, which raises issues related to whether the trucking company is committed to hiring properly trained drivers.
- Rusted components. Rusted components in the trailer hitch can result in the trailer coming loose while the vehicle is traveling down the road. As with brake failure, this type of problem should be detected if the driver is performing a proper pre-trip inspection.
Although not considered a direct cause, driver fatigue and/or distraction may also play a role in this type of accident. Truck drivers work long hours on the road and may not always be taking the rest breaks they need to stay safe.
Special Liability Issues Associated With Truck Accidents
Accidents involving runaway trailers present special liability issues because of the number of people who are typically involved in the operation of a commercial vehicle. Depending on the circumstances, the driver, the owner of the vehicle, the service technician, or the manufacturer of a specific vehicle component may be to blame. In some cases, more than one party may be partially liable for the accident.
Types of Compensation Available Following A Truck Accident
A personal injury claim can include compensation for:
- Medical expenses, including emergency care and necessary follow-up visits
- Anticipated future medical needs, if you've been left with an accident-related disability
- Lost wages, if you were able to work while recovering from your injuries
- Loss of future earning potential, if your injuries have left you with a disability that will affect your ability to maintain employment
- Pain and suffering, including both the physical pain and emotional stress from your injuries
If the runaway trailer accident resulted in a fatality, the deceased person's surviving spouse, parent, or child may be able to file a wrongful death claim. This is a personal injury claim that includes compensation for:
- Medical care up to the time of death
- Pain and suffering up to the time of death
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of the deceased person's companionship
While not generally a part of a runaway trailer accident, punitive damages may be awarded if the cause of the accident was extreme recklessness with regard to the maintenance or safe operation of the vehicle. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant instead of reimbursing for actual damages the injured person or surviving family members have suffered.
How Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Can Help You Following A Truck Accident
Building a successful case for a runaway trailer accident claim requires knowing how to gather relevant evidence, locate experts who can testify on your behalf, and negotiate with the insurance company for the highest possible compensation. Our experienced truck accident attorneys are committed to helping Louisiana residents resolve their runaway trailer accident claims promptly and fairly. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.