A rollover accident on the Massachusetts turnpike in early October resulted in a spill of thousands of
bananas and the leaking of about 100 gallons of gasoline from the overturned truck. State police were
forced to close eastbound lanes at Exit 18 for 9-hours while the bananas were recovered, and absorbent
used to neutralize the diesel fuel. Fortunately, there were no reported injuries. There were no details about what caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
Such accidents are not all that rare. Trucking accidents are on the rise with the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA) reporting that 2017 saw the highest rate in the past 29-years. Experts
believe that the increase is due to freight carried by trucks at all-time highs, which only increases the
number of trucks on the road. Distracted driving also is a major factor in truck accident fatalities, even
with new technologies like automatic braking systems, lane departure warnings, and rear-view cameras.
Around 74% of all fatal passenger vehicle accidents include a large truck even though they constitute a
much lower percentage of all vehicles on the highways.
Other Factors in Trucking Accidents
There are a variety of factors in trucking accidents:
- Inexperience—many new drivers lack sufficient training and may be hired despite poor driving
- Poor weather
- Distractions—use of smartphones, grooming, eating, daydreaming
- Fatigue—drivers who fail to get sufficient rest and do not adhere to restrictions on number of
hours they can drive per day and week
- Poor maintenance practices—failure to do a maintenance check on tires, braking, steering and
suspension that increases the risk of rollovers
- Poorly secured loads
- Drugs and alcohol
In a rollover accident, accident reconstruction experts should review:
- Cargo height—a tall load means a high center of gravity. Dispersing the load will result in a
lower center of gravity and a lesser chance of a rollover
- Improper positioning of load—if not properly positioned, the load can shift the center of gravity
to the side that can result in the truck flipping over
- Cargo that is improperly secured—unsecured or loosely secured loads can shift center of gravity
while the truck is still moving
- Failing to adjust speed—this can occur on off-ramps or while exiting—brakes need to be working
properly and cargo properly positioned to account for poor road conditions as well
- Improper steering—oversteering or over correcting with a poorly secured load can cause a
Any one of these could have been a factor in the turnpike accident with bananas and diesel spilling over
onto the highway.
Consequences of a Truck Rollover
It is frightening to imagine what would happen in the seconds or minutes after a catastrophic rollover on a major roadway like the Massachusetts Pike at peak hours. Vehicles in the path of the truck that rolls over several lanes of highway are its mercy with little to no opportunity to avoid a collision. If the truck spills fuel or other liquid, car drivers will be sliding into the hazard, losing control, and colliding into other vehicles, the median, guardrail, or rolling over an embankment. Similarly, spilled food like bananas pose another hazard as drivers take emergency evasive measures, brake suddenly, or veer into other lanes. A domino effect could easily result with multiple cars crashing into each other.
Spilled fuel could also ignite from a single spark as cars brake while sliding over the fluid, which could
result in a conflagration. It is easy to see the tragedy that could result from such a scenario.
Liability of Truckers and Trucking Companies
Accident reconstruction experts are often retained in truck accidents to ascertain fault and to dispel
allegations of comparative negligence by an injured or fatally injured victim or the negligence of a third
party. An experienced and knowledgeable car accident lawyer can review the various regulations that
truck drivers and trucking companies must follow. As commercial drivers and entities, they have a higher duty to exercise proper care in hiring and training drivers, maintaining their vehicles, getting proper rest, not driving distracted or on drugs, drug testing drivers, and knowing how to drive these massive vehicles.
In any serious or fatal truck accident, investigators from the NHTSA and independent experts if retained
by car accident lawyers will examine the truck for evidence of equipment failure. Most trucks have
electronic devices, or black boxes, that contain vital data on the vehicle’s speed, steering, braking, and
other information in the moments before the crash. Logbooks on a driver’s activities are also reviewed.
These are now kept electronically as well so the opportunity for altering records are more difficult, though companies and drivers are still able to falsify records in some cases.
Drivers are required to undergo physical examinations, undergo training, have safe driving histories, and to take drug tests. Failure in these areas exposes the trucking company to fines as well as civil liability in accident cases.
Damages in Car Accident Cases
Damages in trucking accidents vary greatly depending on the nature and extent of the injuries. Damages
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Permanent disfigurement
- Permanent disability
- Diminished quality of life
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Retain the Law Office of Burns and Jain
Truck accidents are often more complex than typical car accident claims, and demand the experience and resources of a car accident lawyer who has successfully handled such cases. The lawyers at Burns and Jain have the requisite experience that truck accident victims need to get the compensation that they
deserve. Call them today at (617) 250-8256 for a free and comprehensive evaluation of your injury claim.