What A Phoenix Lawyer Can Tell You About Truck Rollovers

by Doug Zanes | Last Updated: November 25, 2021

Truck rollover accidents are among the most deadly types of crashes. While they do not make up a large proportion of truck crashes, they will almost always cause serious injury and property damage. In nearly all cases, a responsible party should pay for your truck rollover accident injuries.

In Phoenix, rollovers can happen on any major freeways where trucks commonly travel, such as I-10 or I-17. The many construction projects by ADOT only increase the risk that a truck driver might encounter conditions that cause them to roll over. The causes of these crashes are complicated, so speak with a Phoenix truck accident lawyer as soon as you can.

Accidents After A Truck Rollover

Truck rollovers happen when a truck tips over onto its side or its roof. Of course, this is a critical danger for the driver of the truck, but it also places the lives of everyone else on the road in jeopardy.

Trucks rollovers can cause the following damages and harms:

  • Impact with other cars – when the truck rolls over onto its side, it can strike vehicles traveling in adjacent lanes.
  • Cargo spills – equally as dangerous as crashes, the cargo can spill from the truck. This can force other drivers to make evasive maneuvers, causing them to lose control of their car or collide with other drivers. In addition, drivers can slip on spilled cargo or run over it, causing them to spin out or flip over themselves. Cargo spillage can also lead to explosions when the truck is carrying flammable materials such as oil or chemicals.
  • Chain reaction crashes – taking sharp actions to evade a truck can cause drivers to crash with other cars. When this happens on a highway at high speeds, it can cause a multi-car crash. Each of the injured drivers can have a claim against the truck driver because the rollover was the proximate cause of the crash.

Why and Where Truck Rollovers Happen

Rollovers happen because it is difficult for the truck driver to maintain the proper course and direction when taking a turn. Trucks do not follow the path that you might expect when they are making a turn. Large trucks have centrifugal forces that cause them to lean away from the direction of a curve as opposed to into the turn. This is what causes a rollover.

Truck rollover crashes can happen in the following places:

  • Road curves or turns
  • Freeway exit or entrance ramps
  • Inclines in the road

In most cases, the driver is to blame for the accident. Even if drivers slow down appropriately in these places, they can still make a mistake that can cause a truck rollover.

Truck Rollover Statistics

Rollovers do not happen frequently. Rollovers make up roughly one in every 25 truck accidents, according to the FMCSA. However, when they do occur, they are dangerous for both the truck driver and everyone else on the road in the vicinity of the truck.

Driver error is to blame for roughly three out of every four rollover accidents. In almost all of these cases, rollovers will simply not just happen. Something will happen before the rollover to cause it (see the list below).

Causes of Truck Rollovers

Most truck rollover accidents are the fault of the truck driver, who has failed to control their truck. Large trucks are vehicles that average 72 feet in length and when fully loaded, they can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. It takes a great degree of skill for any driver to keep their truck upright, given the road conditions and the weight of the truck.

These days, there is a critical shortage of truck drivers on the road. Trucking companies might hire less experienced drivers and put them out on the road. Even though there are licensing and training requirements, newer drivers are far less skilled and more prone to making errors that can cause a truck rollover. It often takes years for truck drivers to have the right experience to avoid these kinds of mistakes. However, they are thrown behind the wheel far before they are ready.

How Truck Drivers Cause Rollover Accidents

Here are some ways that driver errors can cause truck rollover accidents:

  • The driver can take a curve too quickly, not slowing down in enough time to properly navigate the turn.
  • Inattentive and distracted drivers can simply lose track of where they are and how to control their trucks. These accidents often happen when a driver is looking at their phone or sending a text while driving.
  • Fatigued drivers doze off momentarily behind the wheel. Their loss of reflex and attentiveness can cause them to miss a necessary steering maneuver to keep control of their truck.
  • Drivers can make errors in their steering. The driver can be trying to stay in their lane, and they may oversteer, causing the truck to roll over. This is an error that comes from a lack of experience. Alternatively, they can understeer when they are trying to stay in their lane.
  • Truck drivers may fail to properly understand the size and the weight of their trucks when they get on the road. They need to understand and know their cargo load and account for it accordingly when driving their truck.

Cargo Distribution and Maintenance Issues Can Cause Rollover Accidents

In addition, the rollover may not even be the fault of the truck driver. Remember that they are carrying a large truck full of cargo that someone else likely loaded on the vehicle. The cargo loaders might not use the appropriate amount of care when loading the truck. There can be an uneven weight distribution on the truck that makes it more likely that the truck will roll over in one direction.

In most rollover accidents, the truck is not fully loaded, with an improper distribution of weight. This is more of a risk for tankers with the slosh and surge effect.

In addition, the maintenance and condition of the truck can be to blame for the accident. One FMCSA study found that 54 percent of rollover accidents involved some sort of defect with the brakes.

Truck drivers may not receive adequate training in rollover prevention. They often start driving in a rushed manner. One study found that most of the rollover prevention training that drivers had was through printed publications. It is often difficult to even train drivers on how to avoid rollovers because many mistakes involve basic driving expertise.

Who Can Be Responsible For A Truck Rollover Accident?

The most frequent defendant in a rollover accident lawsuit is the trucking company. In most cases, you can prove that the rollover accident was the fault of the trucker. This is not something that usually happens on its own without someone making a mistake (and not you). In other words, while you still need to prove negligence, the chances are that your truck accident lawyer will have the evidence necessary to put you in a position to receive compensation.

Lawsuits For Truck Rollover Accidents

In general, you might sue these parties in a truck rollover accident:

  • The trucking company – truck drivers are agents of the trucking company who puts them out onto the road. Assuming that the driver was an employee of the trucking company, they are legally responsible for practically everything that the operator does, so long as it was within their job responsibilities.
  • The maintenance company – if the rollover happened due to a problem with the truck as opposed to driver error, you can sue the company that was responsible for maintaining the truck if the trucking company outsourced this function.
  • The cargo loading company – if the rollover was the result of unevenly loaded cargo, the company responsible for loading it should pay for your injuries.
  • The truck or part manufacturer – since many rollovers have brake defects as one of the causes, the company that made the truck or brake can be responsible if their product was defective.
  • The driver – in some cases, the driver is not an employee of the trucking company. Instead, they are an independent contractor. The driver will still have an insurance policy against which you can file a claim. In these cases, you may still sue the trucking company for negligent hiring.

File your claim or lawsuit against the right party or parties to an accident. This is why your lawyer will come in after the crash and perform an extensive investigation. The actual crash is the last thing in what can be a long line of mistakes that led to it. Before you file a claim, you will need to understand the chain of events.

Suing The Trucking Company For A Truck Rollover Accident

The trucking company has a large insurance policy in place to cover truck accident claims. They do this to protect their own business since they are liable for any damages that their insurance company does not cover.

If you suffered injuries in a rollover accident, you should first call a truck accident attorney. Your lawyer will investigate the accident and pinpoint the company or companies responsible for your injuries. They will then help you file an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the responsible company. You have the legal right to do either. There is nothing that says that you need to work with the insurance company or accept what they are offering you.

Damages That You Can Recover In A Truck Rollover Accident

If the insurance company makes you a settlement offer, make sure it’s enough money to cover your injuries. After a truck accident, your injuries are likely extensive.

You might seek these damages:

  • Lost wages for time missed from work or any reduction in your earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering (both past and future)
  • All medical bills relating to the accident
  • Emotional distress
  • Wrongful death damages (if you lost a loved one in the rollover crash)

You will likely not receive all of these in the full amount in the first settlement offer (if you receive an offer at all). Your lawyer will need to negotiate with the insurance company. They know the value of your claim, and they will do everything that they can to avoid paying it to you. If you have heard that getting a fair settlement offer is like pulling teeth, it is based on the actual experience that people had with insurance companies.

The Right Truck Accident Law Firm Can Inspire Fear In Trucking and Insurance Companies

When you are dealing with larger amounts of money, insurance companies will be even more difficult. While you may think that a large settlement offer is a good thing, it actually is not when the check is for far less than you deserve. Your leverage is that you can always go to court. While there is no guarantee of what your case is worth in court, the chances are that it can be more than you can get in a settlement.

There have been many cases where trucking companies have gone out of business because of large jury verdicts. They might lose all their assets to pay jury verdicts. Neither the defendant nor their insurance company wants that. They have every incentive to keep your case from going in front of a jury. The right Phoenix truck accident lawyer will understand leverage and bargaining, and we will work to maximize your recovery.

Phoenix Rollover Truck Accident Lawyers

When you are up against trucking companies and their insurance carriers, you need all the legal firepower that you can get because they lawyer up to the hilt. You need an equalizer experienced Phoenix truck accident attorney with a track record of taking on these companies who will get right to work on your case and develop an aggressive legal strategy to maximize your recovery. There is no risk to you to discuss your case and take strong legal action.

Doug Zanes: Founding Attorney Raised in Douglas, Arizona, and went to college at Arizona State University and graduated from law school at St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas. Doug began practicing law in Phoenix Arizona in 1997.
Get in Touch
Free Case Evaluation
Please don't hesitate to reach out. We are here to help.

    Skip to content