Big trucks often fill the streets of Albany, transporting goods to-and-from businesses and residences throughout the Capital Region. They’re also a familiar sight on Albany’s highways, especially I-87. While necessary for the health of the Albany-area economy, trucks also put the public at risk when they roll over and cause harm.
In this blog post, we take a look at truck rollover accidents in Albany how they happen, the damage they cause, and how an experienced truck accident injury lawyer can help when a rollover accident harms you or a loved one.
What Causes Truck Rollovers in Albany?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), around 17,000 truck rollover accidents happen annually across the United States. Rollover accidents cause around half of all trucker deaths each year. A rollover can catastrophically damage other vehicles, nearby property, and people.
Various factors contribute to the cause of rollover accidents in Albany and throughout the region. Many of those factors involve an element of driver error. Here are some common contributing factors in Albany truck rollover crashes.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding plays a role in roughly 26 percent of all fatal traffic accidents. Speeding is especially dangerous for a large truck, which can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, and needs far more room to stop, slow down, and maneuver than a passenger vehicle.
Speeding trucks face extreme rollover risks on sharp corners and curves, such as on highway exit ramps or neighborhood roads. With their high center of gravity and relatively narrow wheelbase, trucks traveling too fast on a curve risk tipping and rolling.
Unfortunately, many truck drivers continue to speed through Albany, despite the dangers. Some simply lose track of applicable speed limits. Others unfamiliar with Capital Region roads fail to judge what constitutes a safe speed. And some speed deliberately, because they fall behind in their tight delivery and pick-up schedules and want to make-up time, or simply because they enjoy going fast.
Whatever their reasons, however, truckers who choose to speed put the public at risk for deadly rollover accidents.
#2. Congested Roads
Albany suffers from chronic traffic congestion, especially during rush hour when Capital Region commuters take to the roads. Unfortunately, traffic congestion brings with it problems that can increase the risk of truck rollover accidents.
First, traffic congestion can make it difficult for large trucks to maneuver safely. In tight traffic, trucks often lack sufficient room to execute the wide turns necessary to prevent rollovers. Instead, they may need to make sharp turns and quick maneuvers that can destabilize a truck and lead to a rollover.
Second, congestion can lead to increased frustration in all drivers, including truck drivers. Truck drivers often have tight deadlines they need to meet and a limited amount of time to meet them. Federal law mandates that truck drivers can only spend 11 hours of a 14-hour shift behind the wheel. If they exceed those hours by even a fraction, they may end up facing severe penalties and a loss of income.
Traffic congestion can slow them down and prevent them from putting in the miles they need to reach their destinations on time. This, in turn, can increase their incentive to speed parts of the road where they run the risk of rolling over.
Finally, traffic congestion can cause dangerous truck driver distractions, which reduce reaction times and heighten the risk that a driver will make a mistake and roll his truck.
#3. Weather Conditions
Each year, Albany sees an estimated 52 inches of snow. The city has a strong infrastructure to help clear snow and ice away from major roadways, but snow plowing can still leave a slick topping of ice and slush on a road surface. Slippery conditions can lead to a loss of control of a large truck, which in turn can trigger a rollover.
Albany also sees an estimated 40 inches of rain each year. Trucks can also lose control and roll on rain-slick roads.
In addition to rain, snow, and ice, big trucks traveling through the Capital Region can also face an unexpected weather hazard even on apparently clear days: high winds. A heavy storm or weather front can bring winds of 50 mph or more to the Albany area. A strong crosswind gust can destabilize a large truck, causing a loss of control that leads to a rollover. And if the wind blows hard enough, it can push a truck over on its own.
Truckers obviously cannot control the weather. They can, however, decide when and how to navigate in less-than-ideal weather conditions. To diminish rollover risks in difficult weather, drivers of large trucks often must slow down and be more deliberate about leaving themselves room to maneuver. Truckers who fail to take these precautionary measures put themselves and others at high risk for a potentially deadly rollover accident.
#4. Driver Distraction
Driver distraction heightens the risk for any accident on Albany roads. When it comes to big truck rollovers, however, distraction takes on even greater significance.
Navigating the streets of Albany in a big truck requires the driver to pay careful attention to everything around him: the road, other vehicles, and, particularly, turns that he might need to make. A distracted driver will necessarily have a harder time paying attention to his surroundings and the potential hazards he faces. This can lead to a truck speeding or taking a turn too sharply, which can easily result in a rollover.
Driver distraction happens in numerous ways. One common form of distraction these days involves talking or texting on a cell phone while driving. Other forms of distraction include looking at or programming a GPS, talking on a CB radio, and eating or drinking behind the wheel. Any of these distractions can create a moment of inattention that causes a deadly rollover.
#5. Improperly Loaded Cargo
Large trucks carry cargo. How that cargo gets loaded into a truck can affect the truck’s stability and performance. A load with its weight sitting too high in a trailer can make the trailer especially prone to tipping over. An improperly secured load can shift unexpectedly, causing the truck driver to lose control.
Truck drivers and the companies that load trailers must exercise care and caution to properly load cargo so that it does not heighten the risk of a deadly rollover accident on Albany roads.
Costs and Consequences of Albany Truck Rollovers
Even though large trucks face a higher risk than ordinary vehicles of rolling, it still takes a significant amount of force to trigger a truck rollover accident. In a rollover crash, that force can translate into widespread damage to the truck, nearby vehicles, and property features at the roadside. It can also inflict catastrophic harm to truckers, vehicle occupants, and bystanders.
And that’s not all. Consider these additional hazards that frequently accompany truck rollover accidents in Albany.
The Truck May Lose Its Cargo
Often, the truck will lose its cargo as it rolls. For a flatbed truck, with the cargo generally secured by straps, the rollover may occur because the cargo starts to slide off the trailer. Heavy cargo can cause serious injury to anyone around it, including the passengers in a vehicle that just happened to travel next to the truck during the accident.
Semi-trucks hauling large trailers full of cargo may also dump a portion of their cargo in a rollover. The trailer’s doors may fly open, and anything not well-secured in the truck can fly out. Often, that cargo lands in the road, posing a potent hazard to other drivers, who may run into it and end up getting hurt in secondary accidents. Smaller cargo may blow or bounce around, causing it to end up back in the road even if the trailer did not open or crack until after the truck had left the road.
Tanker trucks can pose an even more serious hazard in a rollover scenario. While tanks have a safety-focused design that helps hold their contents in place, if the tank ruptures due to the force of the accident, the tank’s contents may spill out, posing a hazard to anyone nearby. Sometimes, that can mean increased fire or explosion risk: a gasoline truck losing its load, for example.
Other times, a tanker truck carrying hazardous chemicals could dump a portion of its cargo, causing severe environmental harm, including the risk of chemical burns or inhalation of hazardous chemicals, for everyone on the scene of the accident. A tanker that spills its contents may also make the road surface slicker for other vehicles, risking follow-on accidents.
The Truck Can Slide or Roll For a Long Distance
In some hazardous driving scenarios, truck drivers may have the ability to regain control of their trucks. But not a rollover. Once a truck tips onto its side, the trucker has no control over it whatsoever. The truck may, and often does, continue to slide along the road surface, or to roll down an embankment. In either event, it will come to a stop only through potentially violent, external physical forces, such as friction from the road, or a collision with another vehicle or fixed object.
This means that a rollover truck accident holds the potential to cause widespread destruction and human injury. A rollover may trigger a series of secondary accidents, as other motorists take evasive action to avoid the out-of-control truck and/or its spilled cargo. A rolled-over truck can potentially destroy a roadside structure, or sweep up vehicles across multiple lanes of traffic before it comes to rest.
How Albany Lawyers Help Truck Rollover Victims
Victims of truck rollover accidents in Albany often have legal rights to compensation for their injuries and losses. A skilled Albany truck accident injury lawyer can help victims take legal action to secure that compensation.
A lawyer for a rollover crash victim performs a wide range of services in pursuing compensation for his client. Two tasks, however, play an especially consequential role in obtaining the money crash victims deserve.
Identifying At-Fault Parties
It’s not always obvious how or why a truck rollover accident happened. Skilled lawyers for Albany rollover victims frequently focus their efforts on investigating the circumstances of the crash and identifying the party or parties who should face legal and financial accountability for it.
Those parties may include, for example:
- The truck driver, if he commits an error while at the wheel of a truck that triggers a dangerous rollover accident.
- The trucking company that operates the truck and employs the driver, especially if it failed to train the driver in safe practices, or failed to maintain the truck in safe working condition.
- The party that loaded the truck’s cargo, if the load shifted or was too top-heavy, leading to a rollover.
- A municipal agency, if it failed to maintain roads safe for truck travel in Albany.
This is just a sample of who might owe damages for truck rollover in the Capital Region. Experienced lawyers understand the importance of investigating the facts to make sure that everyone who should face liability for the harm a rollover causes, does.
Calculating and Pursuing Damages
Victims of rollover accidents in Albany generally have the right to monetary compensation for the harm they suffered.
A lawsuit and/or insurance claim for damages arising out of a truck rollover accident may obtain payment for:
- Medical costs associated with treating rollover accident-related injuries, including the cost of hospitalization, emergency care, physical therapy, and medications.
- Other expenses victims would not have incurred if the accident hadn’t happened, such as the cost of replacing damaged property or modifying a home to accommodate a disability.
- The wages and income that victims miss out on earning because of their injuries, such as taking leave from work or suffering a disabling injury that prevents them from returning to work altogether.
- The pain, suffering, and loss of quality of life victims suffer because of the accident.
In some cases, skilled lawyers can also convince an Onondaga County court to award additional, punitive damages to the victims. These damages punish extreme or outrageous conduct that caused a rollover accident.
Want to know more about your rights to compensation after a rollover accident in Albany? Contact an Albany truck accident lawyer today for a free consultation.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.