Attorney Eric Hageman has helped people injured in rollovers get compensation and justice. When a tanker truck rolls over onto a car or motorcycle, the result can be severe injuries and wrongful death.
“When a cargo tank truck is transporting flammable liquid, a rollover can result in an explosion,” says Eric, who recently won $10 million for a man who suffered second and third-degree burns on over 50% of his body.
78% of tanker truck rollovers involve driver error, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Even more disturbing, “over 90% of the time, the rollover is not the ‘first’ event” (FMCSA), meaning the companies employing them are put unsafe drivers with a history of rollovers on the road.
“Attentive driving can prevent most rollovers” (FMCSA).
Causes of rollovers include drowsiness, inattention, distracted driving. Inattention is the leading cause of serious crashes. Speeding (driving too fast for the conditions) is a contributing factor in about a third of the accidents.
Unsafe behaviors include the following:
- speeding (going over the speed limit or driving too fast for the conditions);
- cell phone use (talking and texting);
- driver complacency;
- driver fatigue;
- driving under the influence (DUI).
If there is evidence that the behavior was grossly negligent, there may be a punitive damages claim, which would allow a lawsuit to seek a sufficient amount of money to punish the bad behavior. Attorney Eric Hageman has won millions in punitive damages. “Punitive damages awards are a deterrent to future negligence,” according to Eric.
Tanker Truck Design and Maintenance
Vehicle design and maintenance can also cause or contribute to a rollover. Over half of the vehicles in rollovers had a brake defect.
Tanker trucks have high centers of gravity, making them lean when entering a turn. How much they lean depends on the speed, turn sharpness, banking and the center of gravity. The center of gravity shifts during the turn, making the liquid inside slosh. If the sloshing is too sudden and strong, the truck will tip over. Sudden stops can also cause dangerous sloshing. Vehicle condition is also a factor. Of particular concern are damaged brakes, damaged suspension, and incorrect tire pressure.
Liquid Load Effects
When transporting liquid, like oil or gas, there is always a certain amount of sloshing, which is why drivers need to driver slowly. When there is a partial load, the sloshing is more intense, increasing the likelihood of a rollover. Over 90% of rollovers happen with a partial load. Factors contributing to dangerous slosh and surge include excessive speed, turning radius, sudden braking, sudden maneuvers and load distribution.
As stated above, attentive driving would prevent most rollover accidents. In addition, tanker truck drivers should always do a pre-trip inspection looking for maintenance issues that might cause a crash.
Owners and fleet managers should provide drivers with adequate training. Motion-based simulators are available for training. Vehicles can be equipped with electronic stability aids and other in-cab devices, which alert drivers when they have taken a curve too quickly.
FMCSA has a cargo tank truck rollover prevention video that owners can share with drivers.
Fleet managers and dispatchers should remind drivers of the importance of the hours-of-service regulations to ensure they have had enough sleep and will not be too tired to drive safely.
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