Runaway Trailers

Runaway Trailer Accident Lawyer in San Francisco

Runaway trailers are common on our roads, and requires a skilled driver to safely operate. Unfortunately, not all drivers and trucking companies follow the proper protocols to ensure the safe operation of these vehicles. When an accident happens, devastating injuries can occur to drivers and passengers alike.

If you've been hurt in a runaway trailer crash, discuss the details of your case with an attorney to learn more about whether you are able to recover compensation for your damages.

Common Causes of Runaway Trailer Accidents

A runaway trailer accident typically occurs when the truck in front is moving at a much faster speed than the trailer behind it. The difference in speeds can cause the trailer to veer or become detached - causing serious destruction to vehicles and even pedestrians nearby.

Some of the most common causes of runaway trailer accidents can include:

  • Excessive speed: Drivers who are operating a vehicle of such weight and size should drive according to the road conditions and the cargo they are carrying. Speeding with heavy cargo can cause the driver to lose control of their vehicle and make it more difficult to brake in time to avoid collisions.
  • Sudden turns: Similar to jacknife accidents, making quick turns can cause the trailer to become detached.
  • Brake or parts failures: If brakes, the hitch, or another integral part is not properly maintained, this can compromise the safety of the vehicle and leads to accidents.
  • Overloaded trailers: If a trailer is loaded beyond its maximum capacity, this can put excess burden on the vehicle, making it harder to maneuver safely.

Precautions to Avoid Runaway Trailer Accidents

There are various precautions that drivers and trucking companies must follow to help prevent runaway trailer accidents.

  • Attaching the trailer. Trailers should be properly hitched to the towing vehicle. Use safety chains and attach the lighting connector. Proper selection and condition of the coupler and hitch ball are essential to safe towing of the trailer.
  • Signal lights. Make sure signal lights work properly. This is crucial for spotting the trailers especially at night.
  • Inspections. Inspect tires and wheel bearings before each use. Make sure bearings are properly lubricated. If the trailer has brakes inspect them daily and make sure all connections are in tact.
  • Repairs. Replace defective integral parts, such as torque rods connected to the running gear, rather than making temporary repairs. Repair and maintain equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and any standards the equipment is required to meet.
  • Proper driver training. Provide instruction and training to workers on all equipment they are required to operate. Take care that only licensed drivers operate the vehicles.

Real-World Examples of Fatal Runaway Trailer Crashes

Mechanical failure of rock truck results in fatal runaway

A young worker was operating an articulating rock truck (ART) that was hauling rock from a blast site. The brakes failed while the truck was traveling down a newly constructed steep logging road (23 percent). To slow the truck down, the operator drove it into a ditch. The ART tipped onto its box and slid down the ditch line until the cab struck a large rock outcrop. The driver was ejected and was struck by a large rock that was thrown from the truck’s load resulting in fatally injuring the driver..

The investigators found that a rear-axle torque rod had broken away from the housing because of a badly done welding repair job. Excessive movement of the box may have cut the rear brake line and air line. The front brakes and the partial use of the centre-axle brakes were not able to stop the truck as it gained speed on the steep hill.

Runaway truck overturns, killing driver

An articulating dump truck filled with debris was being driven downhill when the driver lost control. He radioed for help on how to stop the truck. The truck increased speed before veering off into the bank and rolling over. The driver received severe head injuries and later died in hospital. It was the driver’s first day at this worksite and the extent of his experience and qualifications had not been properly assessed. Through his work as a shop/mechanic helper and spare driver, he had some experience driving articulating dump trucks. However, he had little experience driving loaded articulating trucks on steep logging roads, and he did not have an appropriate license for operating an off-road vehicle.

Were You Hurt in a Runaway Trailer Crash?

Speak with an injury attorney as soon as possible if you have been hurt. Your attorney can discuss your case, possible compensation, and help guide you through the legal details of your case.


Do I Have a Case?

If you’d like to speak with an attorney, fill out the form below or call us at (415) 688-2176

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