Learn what causes rollover accidents and who’s liable when they happen
Large commercial trucks are BIG.
The legal weight for an 18-wheeler in the United States is 80,000 pounds, and that’s without an oversize permit. With an oversize permit, 18-wheelers can be much heavier. To put this in perspective, the average automobile on the road is only about 3,000 pounds.
What’s more, 18-wheelers are often 70-80 feet long and almost always more than 13 feet tall.
So what can happen when 1 of these large trucks takes a turn too fast?
A rollover—and that’s bad news for both the truck driver and anyone else on the road.
This article examines rollover accidents in Texas, including how they happen and what to do if you’re involved in one.
What’s a rollover accident and how do they happen?
A “truck rollover accident” simply refers to an accident where a truck tips over onto its side or roof. Rollover accidents are separated into 2 categories based on how they occurred:
- Tripped rollovers. Tripped truck rollover accidents occur because some external object causes the truck to roll over. For example, if a large truck slid off the highway and struck a guardrail, causing it to roll over, this would be a tripped rollover because an external object caused the truck to roll over.
- Untripped rollovers. Untripped rollover accidents aren’t caused by external objects, but rather by some maneuver made by the driver (for example, going too fast while making a turn or swerving suddenly to avoid an accident).
Not all rollover accidents fall into these categories. Some rollover accidents are caused by a defective truck part, such as a tire blowout that causes the truck to rollover. When a defective product is involved, the appropriate lawsuit is a product liability lawsuit (which is a type of personal injury lawsuit).
Other factors that may contribute to a rollover accident include:
- Defective roads
- Dangerous weather conditions
- Poor vehicle maintenance
- Lack of training
Rollover accident statistics
As you might imagine, rollover accidents are an especially dangerous type of accident. Although rollovers account for only 2.1% of all motor vehicle accidents, they are responsible for nearly 35% of all vehicle fatalities.
Let’s look at some other rollover-accident statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- Nearly 75% of all rollover accidents occur on rural roads.
- Nearly 95% of all rollovers are “tripped” rollovers.
- Rollover accidents kill an estimated 10,000 people each year.
- Wearing a seatbelt can reduce your risk of dying in a rollover crash by as much as 75%.
- Nearly 85% of all rollover-related fatalities are the result of single-vehicle crashes.
Truck accident liability and damages
A rollover accident has occurred and you’ve been injured.
As with other types of truck accidents, there are several parties that can be held liable for a truck rollover accident. They include:
- The truck driver. Driver negligence is often the cause of rollover accidents. Whether it's driving fatigued, failing to inspect the truck tires before the journey, or speeding, a truck driver can be held liable for a rollover accident if they failed to take “reasonable care” to avoid the accident.
- The trucking company. Trucking companies can also be held liable for rollover accidents if it can be proven that insufficient training, improper inspections, or a failure to obey federal safety standards (such as how long a driver is allowed to drive at one time) played a role in the crash. What’s more, a trucking company may be held liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior.
- A manufacturing company. A manufacturing company can be held liable for a rollover accident if it's proven that the accident was caused by a defective part.
- Another motorist. Sometimes, another driver's actions may cause a truck to rollover. For example, another motorist might run a red light causing the truck driver to suddenly swerve in an attempt to avoid a crash.
Once you've established who the negligent party is, you can make an insurance claim or file a personal injury lawsuit in order to receive compensation for your damages.
If a loved one is killed in a truck accident, there’s still a legal option to receive compensation. A wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim, except that it’s filed by certain members of the loved one’s family.
Rollover injuries and compensation
Rollover accidents, like other types of truck accidents, can cause a host of serious injuries, including:
In Texas, you can receive both economic and non-economic damages for a rollover accident. Economic damages include damages that you can easily quantify (such as medical expenses and lost wages). Non-economic damages include things that can’t be easily quantified (such as pain and suffering).
In some cases, you may be partially responsible for the accident. Texas follows the modified comparative fault theory. This means that your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if the judge or jury finds that you were 40% at fault for the accident, you’re only entitled to 60% of your damages. What’s more, if you’re more than 50% at fault, you’re prohibited from recovering any damages.
One of the most important things you can do to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve is to keep a detailed account of your injuries following a truck accident. Use our damages worksheet and post-accident journal to help keep track.