Flatbed trucks haul oversized and unusually-shaped cargo—from industrial equipment to modular housing—throughout the country. In an accident, that cargo can break free from the flatbed trailer, adding to the already significant risk of catastrophic harm to crash victims.
Below we explore the rare but dangerous phenomenon of flatbed truck accidents: how they happen, the damage they cause, and the rights of victims to seek compensation for their injuries and losses. For more information about your legal options after suffering injuries in a flatbed truck accident, contact an experienced truck accident injury lawyer today.
Flatbed Truck Crash Statistics
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), crashes involving flatbed trucks account for roughly 10 percent to 12 percent of injury-causing and fatal truck accidents on U.S. roads every year. Over a recent three-year period, the number of fatal flatbed truck accidents rose by a troubling 31 percent, from 451 crashes in the first year to 592 crashes two years later.
Flatbed Truck Accident Causes
The FMCSA does not publish breakdowns of the causes of fatal and injury-causing flatbed truck accidents.
However, from the data it does publish, we know that truck driver-related and truck-related factors play a role in a significant number of large truck accidents, such as:
- Speeding. Flatbed trucks that speed risk causing accidents, because speed shortens the time a driver has to react to a road hazard, increases the distance the truck needs to come to a controlled stop, and heightens the risk of a loss of control from skidding, brake failure, or jackknifing.
- Driver distraction/inattention. Keeping a rig safely on the road is a complex task. At highway speeds, a moment’s distraction from sending a text, tuning a radio, or programming a GPS, can rob the driver of critical seconds he needs to recognize and respond to a dangerous road condition. It can also impair his ability to keep track of other vehicles on the road, particularly smaller passenger vehicles in his blind spots.
- Fatigue. Long-haul truck drivers, in particular, fight an uphill battle with fatigue and sleep deprivation. They work long hours on irregular schedules. As a group, they skew older and have relatively poor health. Driving for hours on straight roads gets monotonous and dulls the senses. Excessive fatigue impairs driving abilities in the same ways, and to the same extent, as intoxication, making it an extreme accident risk factor for truckers and anyone who shares the road with them.
- Cargo-related factors. Flatbed trucks tend to carry heavy, unusually shaped, and oversized cargo that would not otherwise fit in a box trailer. The odd dimensions and large mass of that cargo can create challenges for flatbed truck drivers that increase the risk of an accident. They can block truckers’ sightlines and expand the size and shape of the truck’s blindspots, for instance. They can make the truck handle poorly, particularly in windy, rainy, or snowy conditions. And, if not properly secured to the bed, they can shift, leading to a loss of control.
These and other accident causes highlight the dangers of sharing the road with a flatbed truck. They also demonstrate that a crash with a flatbed often results from the careless or reckless action of someone other than crash victims.
Compensation for Flatbed Truck Accident Injuries
Victims of flatbed truck accidents caused by someone else’s wrongful actions deserve compensation for their injuries and losses. They can often secure that compensation by hiring a skilled, experienced truck accident injury lawyer to represent them in making a legal claim for damages.
Legal Liability for a Flatbed Truck Crash
Numerous parties might owe damages to a truck accident victim.
Every accident is different, but those parties may include:
- The truck driver who made dangerous decisions behind the wheel, and his employer;
- The owner of the truck, especially if it failed to maintain the truck in safe working condition;
- The owner of the cargo responsible for making sure the cargo was properly secured;
- Another motorist on the road whose actions interfered with the safe operation of the flatbed truck;
- An automotive manufacturer who produced defective vehicle parts that contributed to the cause of a crash; and
- A government agency or contractor who failed to prevent or warn the public about an unreasonably dangerous road condition that caused a crash.
These are just some examples. To find out who might owe you damages for injuries and losses you sustained in a flatbed truck accident, contact an experienced truck accident injury lawyer.
Damages for Flatbed Truck Accident Injuries
The types and amounts of damages a flatbed truck accident victim might have the ability to recover in a legal action vary based on the victim’s injuries, the strength of a case, and the financial resources of the party at-fault.
However, as a general matter, legal actions for damages can often seek compensation for:
- Medical bills for emergency treatment, ambulance services, doctor’s visits, diagnostic tests, hospitalization, surgery, prescription medication, medical equipment, and physical therapy;
- Wages lost from work for wages the victim otherwise would have received had the victim not had to take time off work due to the injuries;
- The lifetime value of earnings if the injuries render the victim unable to work at a former occupation;
- Personal property for replacement of personal property damaged or lost in the accident, such as a car; and
- Pain and suffering the victim endured because of the accident and injuries.
Victims of flatbed truck accidents have no guarantee they will receive compensation through legal actions. However, they can give themselves the best chance of securing the damages they need and deserve by hiring an experienced truck accident injury lawyer to represent them.
When to Seek Legal Help
Victims of flatbed truck accidents must act quickly to preserve and protect their legal rights. A flatbed crash will often cause widespread property damage and injuries to multiple victims. The owner of the truck and cargo will likely try to limit their liability through aggressive legal and insurance tactics.
Make sure their maneuvers do not damage your rights by contacting an experienced truck accident injury attorney today. Don’t know what to ask to get started on your legal path? review our post about, “What to Ask a Truck Accident Lawyer“