Flatbed trucks are very important for the economy. They are used in many ways. Sometimes they are the only option for transporting oversized or specific cargo across Michigan or even the country. It is not uncommon for these types of trucks to carry loads that hang over the flatbed’s edge. This can obstruct the view of other drivers on the road.
There are many laws and safety regulations put in place to keep motorists safe from the danger these trucks pose. However, restrictions on load security can be overlooked. Flatbed drivers may be in violation of these safety regulations. When they are, and these violations result in personal injury, the flatbed truck company can be held responsible.
Though flatbed trucks pose many of the same risks that tractor-trailers do, they also present unique risks to drivers that regular tractor-trailers do not. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident it’s important to contact experienced Michigan flatbed truck accident lawyers so you can help you receive the compensation you deserve. You have the right to have your medical bills and other accident-related expenses paid for by the insurance company.
Common Types of Accidents Caused by Flatbed Trucks
Because these types of trucks are so large and carry heavy loads, their transportation routes are limited. They are not permitted to travel across certain weight-restricted bridges and roads. As a result, this can cause interstate highways to become quite crowded. This makes flatbed trucks even more dangerous for drivers on the road, as the slightest cargo loss could result in a fatal accident. Negligent drivers and cargo loaders often contribute to these accidents.
Common types of Michigan flatbed truck accidents
Oversized Load or Lane Restriction Accidents
Oversized loads that exceed the legal width and weight limit are required by law to take special safety precautions. Any flatbed truck with a weight greater than 23 tons, a width greater than 8.5 feet, or a height greater than 8.5 feet are considered oversized loads. Drivers must obtain special permits to transport oversized loads.
The safety regulations required for oversized loads include but are not limited to:
- Placing a sign on the front and back of the flatbed indicating that it is an oversized or overweight load
- Including warning signs warning drivers that the flatbed exceeds one-lane barriers
- Placing specialized lights on the flatbed to signal potential danger to other drivers
- Hiring pilot vehicles to drive in front of or behind the flatbed to monitor cargo and warn other drivers
- Traveling at a legally reduced speed
- Making frequent stops to check tire pressure and make sure cargo is secure
Transporting oversized loads can get expensive quickly. Sometimes trucking companies will cut corners. Hiring pilot vehicles or flaggers over long distances may mean these companies have to pay for extra labor, hotel rooms, and food. Companies may force drivers to take fewer breaks or even mislead authorities about the weight of the cargo.
It is for these reasons flatbed trucks can pose such a threat to drivers on the road. If proper warnings are not placed on the truck, other drivers may underestimate how large the cargo is. A car or truck driver may not be able to tell if a flatbed exceeds lane boundaries.
In addition, poorly secured cargo may fall off the truck and either hit other vehicles or cause them to swerve out of the way. This can lead to a catastrophic chain-reaction car accident.
The regulations and safety laws surrounding oversized transport are so strict because the injuries sustained from accidents caused by flatbeds are often serious, disabling injuries. It’s common for truck accident lawyers to hire private investigators to gather evidence surrounding the accident and review the crash for any possible safety violations.
Overloading and Weight Distribution Accidents
Unlike tractor-trailers, flatbeds do not have height requirements for their cargo. This increases the possibility of loading the cargo unevenly on the flatbed. Securing too much weight to one side of the flatbed may result in the vehicle overturning. An overturned flatbed causes cargo to fly out onto the road and impact other cars.
Lost and Unsecured Flatbed Cargo Accidents
One of the biggest causes of flatbed accidents comes from improperly secured cargo. Over-tightening straps, using inadequate chains, or failing to replace broken or damaged safety equipment are just some of the ways in which cargo may be lost.
All flatbed drivers are required to use industrial-strength straps, chains, or tarps to ensure their cargo is properly secured. By using the right kinds of chains and straps, companies can greatly reduce the risk of cargo coming loose on the road.
Rear-end Accidents and Brake Failures
It’s no surprise that flatbed trucks require an expensive airbrake system to bring their 20 tons to a halt. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, brake issues were the leading mechanical cause of large truck accidents in the past decade. If a brake failure happens, it can cause the flatbed to rear-end the vehicle in front because it cannot stop in time.
Other reasons may cause a flatbed accident besides mechanical issues, however. Even though it’s common for flatbed accidents to be a result of improperly secured cargo, the FMCSA says poor driver performance is the biggest cause of flatbed accidents. Personal injury lawyers will commonly search for evidence of driver negligence when investigating the cause of a commercial vehicle accident.
Some of the most common reasons for driver-related accidents include:
- Driving too fast for road conditions or weight load
- Driver fatigue
- Road confusion
- Drug or alcohol use
- Driver illness
- Failure to see road hazards
Trucking companies’ worst enemies are delivery delays and additional hourly wages. Federal regulations require commercial drivers to take consistent rest breaks and limit their hours on the road. Truck drivers must have their vehicles periodically inspected for safety. However, to prevent delays companies may encourage their drivers to work beyond those limits and ignore inspections. This is a major cause of flatbed truck accidents. An aggressive big rig truck accident attorney can hold both the driver and negligent employer accountable for the harms and losses the cause.
Potential Defendants Responsible for Compensating Victims of Flatbed Truck Accidents
Accidents involving commercial motor vehicles can involve the violations of basic safety rules. If a driver is found to be negligent in violating a safety rule, that driver, their employer and the truck owner may all share liability for your injuries.
Most of the time, if it is proven the driver operated the flatbed carelessly or recklessly, the law will assign responsibility to the owner and employer. Attorneys may even seek to hold an employer directly liable if they have evidence the employer cut corners with safety regulations or encouraged their drivers to ignore basic safety rules.
Possible Compensation for Flatbed Truck Accidents
No one should expect you to cover the costs of extensive medical bills on your own after an accident. The injuries sustained in these accidents can be severe and come with a lengthy recovery process. The type of injury and severity of the injury will determine how you are compensated.
Some of the most common losses these lawsuits cover include:
- Emergency medical care
- Surgery and hospitalization
- Medications and medical devices
- Physical rehabilitation services
- Car repair or replacement
- Lost wages and loss earning capacity
- Inability to return to work
- Temporary or permanent disability
It’s impossible to understand the total costs of your injuries without first speaking with an experienced attorney. They will help you determine a fair settlement for the injuries you sustained.
Every state carries a different statute of limitations. In Michigan, you have three (3) years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit against the proper defendants, which is why it’s important to contact a Michigan Flatbed Truck Accident Lawyer as soon as possible.
The Most Common Injuries Sustained by Victims
The injuries that follow a flatbed truck accident can be unpredictable. A major cargo loss accident could leave you with minor whiplash, while a simple rear-end collision may leave you with permanent spinal injury. Back pain, herniated disks, and shoulder damage are all common injuries.
Some of the most common injuries sustained when a driver swerves out of the way of fallen cargo include:
- TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) may be caused when debris leaves the flatbed and impacts a driver’s windshield, leading to a closed head injury.
- Internal organ damage or crush injury may happen in the event a flatbed overturns on top of an another vehicle.
- Vision problems may result from shattered windows because windshields typically sit at eye level.
- Facial fractures from impact with deployed airbags may take place, even in low-speed accidents.
Attorneys may also help victims recover non-economic damages for pain and suffering or loss of life’s enjoyment. Spouses and parents of child victims may also claim damages for things like undertaking more household responsibilities, driving injured family members to doctor’s visits, or loss of companionship due to a flatbed truck accident.
The Michigan Flatbed Truck Accident Lawyers at Lee Steinberg Law Firm Can Help
For over 40 years, The Lee Steinberg Law Firm has helped injured victims win their cases to collect the compensation they need and deserve. We care about the health and well-being of our clients. Recovering from a flatbed truck accident can take time and can result in many financial burdens. Let us help you get the benefits you need so you can recover as comfortably as possible.
Please call Lee Steinberg and the Michigan flatbed truck accident lawyers at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form. We can answer any questions you may have about your accident. As always, you pay nothing until we win your Michigan personal injury case.