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Flatbed tractor-trailer accidents are unfortunately not uncommon on the road, and these types of auto accidents can lead to property damage, serious injuries, or worse. But an experienced personal injury attorney can help you seek compensation for what you’ve been through. With a free case evaluation, you’ll be able to understand the details of your case, and the damages you may be entitled to.
Every year, American truck drivers traverse more than 450 million miles, transporting a collective 11 billion tons of cargo — and much of that takes place on the back of a flatbed truck.
The design of these commercial vehicles has made them especially popular in the industry, as their open backs can accommodate any number of goods of all shapes and sizes.
But that shape-shifting effect brings an air of unpredictability to the table, which can unfortunately contribute to creating a car accident.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a flatbed truck crash, a semi-truck accident attorney can help you build a strong case for compensation.
Flatbed trucks are one of the most popular and versatile types of big rigs on the road.
These large vehicles think outside the box. Rather than a tractor-trailer, a flatbed truck cabin simply has a long, flat platform behind it.
This open design makes these vehicles great for transporting anything that doesn’t fit into the dimensions of more common shipping containers.
Their ability to carry different types of cargo can also cause complications, especially when it comes to properly securing that freight, and ensuring drivers have limited blind spots once the truck is fully loaded.
While every case is different, there are a number of common causes of truck accidents, due to the nature and design of the large trucks, passenger cars, and drivers involved.
A large commercial truck may be loaded in ways that make cargo spill accidents more likely to occur, including:
Driver error describes careless actions on the part of the truck driver or drivers of passenger cars that led to an accident.
Typically, errors are considered less intentional, and closer to true accidents, and include situations like cases of driver fatigue or driving while distracted.
Driver negligence is a bit more serious than driver error, pointing instead to situations where a driver acted in a way that increased the odds of a crash.
This can refer to a range of actions or scenarios including driving under the influence, failing to check blind spots, turning too quickly, tailgating, or speeding.
It’s not just drivers that cause crashes. Negligence on behalf of a trucking company can look like:
All of these are scenarios that could increase the likelihood of an accident occurring.
When determining who is at fault in a collision between a large truck and a passenger vehicle, there are a number of factors to keep in mind.
Fault is typically assigned on certain levels, which are essentially determined by how intentional the actions leading up to the crash were, and include:
Aside from determining fault in a personal injury case, lawyers must also determine liability. This is a broader legal definition, and can refer to any person or party that contributed to the situation that caused the accident.
That means institutions like a trucking company can be held liable, if they fail to meet industry standards in a way that increases the odds of a crash. And any parties found liable in these cases are responsible for paying damages.
The question of who’s liable for a truck collision is determined on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes, truck drivers are found liable, sometimes trucking companies are, and sometimes both parties can be considered responsible.
Certainly, the actions of the truck drivers are often most directly connected to a crash, especially in the cases where drivers are failing to take proper care in a situation, or are acting irresponsibly or even recklessly.
But trucking companies can also be on the hook for careless behavior, particularly when it comes to how they maintain their vehicles and the type of training and treatment they offer their truckers.
In some situations, there can even be other factors involved, including the behavior of other motorists on the road, or even state or local governments, in cases where dangerous road conditions helped contribute to the conditions that led to the crash.
Flatbed truck accidents can be dangerous incidents, due to a number of specific factors about the way the trucks are built and the type of cargo they typically carry.
Responsible for roughly 4-5% of all fatal truck crashes annually, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), these incidents involve a truck overturning on the road.
With flatbed trucks, this most frequently happens due to improperly loaded cargo, which can cause weight shifts and imbalances that make it easier for a truck to turn over.
One of the most common types of commercial truck accidents, these cases happen when a truck’s cab and bed are no longer moving in unison.
Typically, the trailer will push on the front wheels, causing the cabin to abruptly turn sideways, and resulting in the entire vehicle swerving out of control.
Since flatbed trucks don’t use shipping containers, they can be more prone to cargo spills, which are dangerous for a number of reasons.
Aside from the potential of the cargo being hazardous, these types of accidents can also wreak havoc on a roadway, or cause further accidents if other drivers are blinded by or must swerve to avoid hitting the flying debris.
Due to the size and weight of flatbed trucks, these collisions can lead to a number of serious injuries, including:
If you or a loved one have been injured in a crash with a large commercial truck, you could seek financial compensation for your pain and time with the help of an experienced law firm.
These payments are called damages, and they’re meant to cover all the costs you incurred in the accident, whether they be financial, physical, or emotional.
If the commercial truck accident you were involved in resulted in a physical injury, you could receive damages for any medical treatments or related medical expenses, including:
In cases where injuries sustained in the crash caused you to miss out on work, you may be able to seek additional damages, including for:
If you suffered a catastrophic injury that left you unable to return to your job or pursue a similar line of work after the crash, you may also be entitled to compensation for any diminished earning capacity or complications related to changing careers.
While this category of damages is harder to financially calculate, it’s meant to compensate for impactful aspects of a crash a truck accident victim must deal with, including any suffering derived from:
These types of damages apply in the most tragic cases, where a commercial truck accident led to fatalities.
These damages are tied to both the financial and emotional costs of losing someone in a motor vehicle accident, and can cover:
While it’s not required to hire legal representation in the case of these incidents, the practice can have a number of benefits.
Some law firms or legal teams specialize in these cases, and their years of experience allows them to understand the nuances of semi-truck accidents, how they occur, why, and what it takes to build a strong case.
A semi-truck accident lawyer will also know how to interpret police reports, all the areas to look for damages, who should or could be named a liable party, and which type of evidence will be needed to best present your case.
Plus, many of these law firms have previous interactions with a number of insurance companies and trucking companies, which can help in the negotiation process.
While the federal government collects statistics on truck crashes broadly, it rarely distinguishes the specific type of commercial trucks involved in the incidents.
Still, according to several agencies, crashes involving large trucks are not uncommon.
The FMCSA found 13.65 fatal truck crashes for every million people in the United States in 2019, representing a 29% increase from the last data recorded in 2010.
And the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) reported another unfortunate statistic in 2020, noting that 4,014 people perished in large truck accidents that year alone — 68% of which were the occupants of passenger vehicles involved in the incident.
Flatbed truck accidents are serious matters, which can lead to any number of questions. Find answers to common questions below.
Generally, the biggest cause of jackknife accidents is speeding. When a driver accelerates too quickly, the back of their trucks can start to skid out to the side, and draw the cabin in sideways, with the vehicle forming a V or L-shape.
Flatbed trucks can carry all types of cargo, which can have various impacts on an accident scene. And these vehicles are also commonly used for oversized loads, which can make the trucks even more difficult to maneuver, and increase how long it takes to properly brake.
Every truck accident lawsuit is different, and settlements depend on the severity of any personal injuries, amount of property damage, and level of fault assigned to any liable parties.
A free consultation with a personal injury lawyer will help you determine the amount and types of damages you can pursue.
It’s not legally required of you to hire a law firm or personal injury lawyer in the case of a flatbed truck crash. Still, a good attorney will understand the ins and outs of these types of cases, and can help the process go more smoothly.
Flatbed truck accidents can have serious consequences, but police reports and insurance companies don’t have to be the final word in the matter.
An experienced attorney can help you seek compensation for any suffering or damage incurred in the crash. And LegalFinders can help you find them, schedule a free case review, and get on your way toward building the strongest case possible.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) — Report to Congress on the Large Truck Crash Causation Study
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) — Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2019
Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) — Fatality Facts 2020