Tractor-trailers are probably the most common type of commercial vehicle, but there are others also. Some kinds of cargo are more appropriate for other kinds of transport. Dump trucks haul loose materials like gravel, dirt, and road salt.
The average dump truck weighs over 26,000 pounds when empty and can carry a 28,000-pound load. The average weight of cars is only 4,100 pounds. When dump trucks and cars collide, car occupants are at a definite disadvantage. Dump truck accidents can cause severe injuries and fatalities, along with significant damage to other automobiles.
If you sustained injuries in a dump truck accident in Utah or surrounding states, you might wonder what you can do to obtain compensation for your damages. The personal injury attorneys at Siegfried & Jensen can help.
What Can Cause Dump Truck Accidents?
Any kind of vehicle can cause an accident, but dump trucks have a few potential problems that passenger automobiles typically don’t have. Unfortunately, any of them can cause collisions that injure or kill people in surrounding vehicles.
Larger vehicles, like dump trucks, have broader blind spots. Drivers may not be able to see objects in these blind spots soon enough to avoid colliding with them.
With so much weight behind them, fully loaded dump trucks can cause catastrophic damage in a collision. Dump trucks typically use air or hydraulic brakes, which operate differently than most personal automobile brakes.
If these brakes lag or fail, it can cause rear-end collisions or other kinds of crashes.
The heavy loads that dump trucks carry are potentially dangerous for more than one reason, and any of them can contribute to causing wrecks:
- Although tarps or other containment often covers the cargo hauled in the beds of dump trucks, loose materials can still escape. These materials can become roadway obstacles or hit surrounding vehicles.
- Loads can shift, causing balance issues. Drivers can find it difficult to maneuver when this happens, and trucks can even roll over and crush whatever is around them.
- Dump trucks carrying loads that weigh too much can experience tire blowouts or brake failures, leading to collisions.
Say that a dump truck and a car collide. The material in the truck’s bed can come loose and scatter, causing secondary accidents if other vehicles hit the debris.
Like those operating any large trucks, dump truck drivers need in-depth training. Drivers who don’t understand how to address the many complications of operating all the systems of a dump truck or don’t have much experience are more likely to be involved in an accident.
Drivers can do many other things that increase their risk of causing a collision. Other examples of driver error include:
- Distracted driving
- Fatigued driving
- The use of drugs or alcohol
- Failure to follow traffic laws
- Reckless driving
- Failure to follow construction site safety procedures
Most driver errors are due to negligence, which is a necessary component in personal injury cases.
Hydraulic System Failure
Dump trucks use hydraulic systems to raise their beds to dump their loads. If the hydraulics fail, the bed can raise or lower unexpectedly, causing the driver to lose control and crash.
The heavier a vehicle is, the longer it takes for it to stop, especially when traveling at higher speeds. Inexperienced dump truck drivers can misjudge how far the truck might travel before it can come to a complete stop.
Similarly, drivers of other vehicles may pull into traffic ahead of a dump truck without realizing that the truck can’t slow quickly. Either situation can cause an accident.
Are Dump Truck Accident Claims Complicated?
Many factors can make dump truck accidents much more complicated than car crash claims. Some of these factors include laws specific to Utah; every state has its own regulations, so if your accident occurred elsewhere, find out what the applicable laws are in that state.
Comparative Negligence Law
Utah uses comparative negligence with a 50% bar in personal injury cases. That means that if you are found to be at least 50% at fault for the dump truck accident that caused your injuries, you can’t sue for damages.
Those responsible for the dump truck should have insurance policies to cover their liability, but those companies don’t want to pay more than they must. They often attempt to blame victims unfairly. Your dump truck accident lawyer won’t let an undeserved amount of blame for causing the accident fall on you.
Local, state, and federal government entities own dump trucks. If the one that caused your accident belongs to any government, there are strict regulations and rules you must follow to file a claim. These even govern the amount of compensation you can receive.
Multiple Liable Parties
In car accident cases, the driver is typically also the owner. When dump trucks cause accidents, one or more party is potentially liable:
- The driver
- The truck’s owner, government agency, or leasing company
- The cargo’s shipper, buyer, or loader
- Truck, parts, or system manufacturers
- Those responsible for maintaining the truck
When so many parties are potentially liable, the situation can get very complex. You may not receive the compensation you deserve without a competent dump truck accident lawyer on your side.
Utah is a no-fault state, so those injured in accidents use their own personal injury protection policy to pay their expenses. However, some circumstances allow you to file a civil lawsuit to obtain compensation from the at-fault party or parties.
Statute of Limitations
You usually have four years to file a claim in car accident cases, but only one year for those involving government-owned vehicles. Although you can wait that long, it takes time to thoroughly investigate a dump truck crash and prepare your case. Another factor to consider is that evidence can become more difficult to find as time passes.
Do You Need to Hire a Dump Truck Accident Attorney?
You can choose to file an insurance claim after a dump truck accident yourself, but it’s a complicated and sometimes challenging process. When you hire Siegfried & Jensen, we will assist you in many ways so you can focus on your recovery. We can:
- Assess your case and provide valuable advice
- File insurance claims and other paperwork for you
- Use our resources to investigate the accident and gather evidence
- Help to prevent unfair blame from being placed on you
- Speak to insurance company representatives on your behalf
- Negotiate with liable insurance companies to recover a favorable settlement for you
- File a lawsuit and take your claim to court if needed
Most of the time, people without a lawyer in their corners don’t receive as much compensation as those who have one.
How Can Siegfried & Jensen Help?
Siegfried & Jensen has handled over 35,000 cases with a 97% success rate, recovering over $1.2 billion for our clients. Some of the many benefits of hiring our firm include:
- We are available 24 hours for your free case review.
- We have four offices throughout Utah, but we’ll come to you if it’s more convenient.
- You won’t pay us unless we win compensation for you.
- We have the knowledge and experience gained from representing injured accident victims since 1990.
Call us at (801) 845-9000 or submit our online form. We’ll assess your case and tell you how we can help.