An accident with a flatbed truck has the potential to permanently change a person’s life. Flatbed trucks are either single-unit vehicles or tractor-trailers with an open, flat bed in the back. This bed is used to haul a variety of loads including heavy equipment, construction materials, and other loads. A flatbed truck with the bed connected directly to the frame is known as a single-unit vehicle while a tractor-trailer arrangement will include a tractor that attaches to and pulls a separate flatbed trailer. Regardless of the type of flatbed truck that causes injury, the person harmed deserves to be compensated for their damages. And these damages have the potential to be significant considering the size and weight of these commercial vehicles and the speed at which they travel. Here is a quick look at negligence in the context of flatbed truck accidents.
Determining Negligence in Flatbed Truck Accidents
Generally, negligence means failure to exercise ordinary care. If your truck accident attorney can prove another party’s negligence, you can be compensated for the damages that resulted from the flatbed truck accident. Negligence in a truck accident can include failure to exercise ordinary care by the truck driver, the truck driver’s employer, the entity that loaded the flat bed, the shipping broker, the company that performed maintenance on the vehicle, etc. In sum, identifying the causes of a truck accident and those responsible is often complicated.
In relation to flatbed trucks, failing to properly secure the load is an all too common cause of accidents and injuries. Whether it is because of a lack of training, inadequate supervision, or simply not caring, the effect of failing to properly secure a load on a flatbed is that it puts the rest of us in danger.
Trucking accidents are complex. Too many attorneys do not understand this, they do not take the time to study and learn the nuances of the rules and regulations that apply to truck drivers and trucking companies. As a result, these attorneys treat a trucking accident like an ordinary car accident. And that is a huge mistake! For anyone involved in a collision involving a tractor-trailer or a single-unit commercial truck, you need a savvy truck accident attorney in your corner to analyze the nuances of how the collision happened, why it happened, what trucking safety rules were violated and by whom.
Ignored Safety Rules
The failure to follow established trucking safety rules is one of the most common causes of flatbed truck accidents. Regardless of who loaded the flatbed, the truck driver has the responsibility to ensure that his load is properly secured. Other considerations required of a responsible truck driver and trucking company include making sure that the load is properly balanced on the trailer (side to side and front to back), that the trailer is positioned properly over the “fifth wheel” and rear axles of the tractor, and that the route taken is appropriate for the load being hauled.
In addition, all truck drivers including flatbed truck drivers are required to stop periodically and check to make sure their load is secure throughout a trip. As long as a commercial truck is transporting a load, periodic stops are essential for safe travel. Properly securing a load to a flatbed requires specific knowledge, skill and experience. Different loads require different methods of securement, and truck drivers as well as those loading the truck must be adequately trained and competent in ensuring a load is properly placed and secured on a flatbed or trailer. Unfortunately, plenty of truckers take shortcuts, bypass required load checks and end up putting the safety of the public at risk. It merely takes a hard turn or a turn made too fast to send an improperly secured load of heavy logs, steel beams, or heavy machinery onto vehicles and people in adjacent lanes.
What About the Truck Company?
Trucking companies have a responsibility to exercise ordinary care to ensure they hire truck drivers who are qualified, adequately trained, and properly supervised. If the trucking company is negligent in hiring a particular driver or in failing to properly train or supervise one of its truck drivers, and that driver injures another during the course of employment, the trucking company can be held responsible. This is known as vicarious liability or respondeat superior.
In sum, negligence in hiring, training or supervising a truck driver can lead to the trucking company employer being held legally responsible for a truck accident, including a flatbed accident. Because of the complexity of trucking cases and its many nuances, it is critical to have an experienced truck accident attorney who knows the state and federal trucking rules on your side if you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident.