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Hit by a Flatbed Truck? Here’s What You Need to Know.

Texas Truck Accident Lawyer | Hit by a Flatbed Truck – What to Do

Flatbed trucks – a common sight along roads and highways throughout Texas and across the United States — are ideal for hauling oversized loads that can’t be accommodated by a tractor-trailer or box truck with an enclosed body.

However, while flatbed trucks already pose many of the same dangers as 18-wheelers and other large, commercial trucks, their open design and the presence of oversized cargo also create some unique hazards that make a wreck more likely, especially when the trucking company or its driver fail to take appropriate precautions or ignore vital safety regulations. Unfortunately, as is often the case with trucking-related accidents, the occupants of smaller passenger vehicles are more likely to suffer serious or fatal injuries in a collision with a flatbed truck.

Having successfully represented thousands of clients against the largest transportation companies in the world, it’s been our experience that the majority of truck and 18-wheeler accidents – including those involving flatbed trucks — are entirely preventable and result from negligence on the part of the trucking company or its driver.

Why are Flatbed Trucks so Dangerous?

A flatbed truck is a large vehicle with a flat body and no sides or roof around the bed.

These vehicles typically transport heavy loads that aren’t adversely affected by bad weather or poor road conditions, including logs, construction materials, motor vehicles, and modular homes. Depending on the nature of the load, a flatbed truck may require special permits and escort vehicles to transport its cargo.

It’s not unusual for cargo to hang over the edge of a flatbed. While some overhang is acceptable, excessive overhang can obstruct other drivers on the road. And because an oversized load may limit a driver’s route options due to weight-restricted bridges, underpasses, and lane limitations, flatbed trucks frequently travel along busy multi-lane highways where even a minor loss of cargo can trigger a devastating chain-reaction crash that involves multiple other vehicles.

Common Causes of Flatbed Truck Accidents

As is the case with 18-wheelers and other large trucks, poor decisions – for example, reckless, impaired, fatigued, or distracted driving – on the part of the driver and maintenance issues cause a significant number of flatbed truck crashes. However, the presence of an oversized load and their open cargo area also makes these vehicles more vulnerable to certain types of accidents, including:

Oversized Load and Lane Obstruction Accidents

Regulations require that truck drivers hauling overweight and oversized loads – those that exceed a width of 8.5 feet, a height of 8.5 feet, or a weight of 23 tons – obtain specialized permits to do so. Depending on the nature of the cargo, they may also need to:

  • Place signs on the back and front of the flatbed trailer indicating an oversized or overweight load
  • Post warning signs informing drivers that the load exceeds one-lane barriers
  • Place specialized lights and flags on the flatbed to warn drivers about the potential danger
  • Hire escort vehicles to operate in the front or back of the truck (or both) to guide the vehicle, monitor the cargo, and warn other drivers
  • Travel at a legally reduced rate of speed
  • Make periodic stops to check tire treads and ensure cargo is secure.

Unfortunately, our Experienced Truck Accident Lawyers are aware of far too many serious and fatal crashes that occurred because shippers misled authorities about the cargo’s weight, forced truckers to take minimal rest breaks to reduce delivery time, or failed to hire the necessary escort vehicles to avoid the added costs.

Overloading and Weight Distribution

Because open flatbed trucks have no vertical space limitations, it’s much easier to stack cargo without regard for a truck’s actual power and weight limits.  But overloading and poor weight distribution only increase the potential for a rollover or jackknife truck accident, either of which could cause the flatbed to lose some or all of its cargo.

An overloaded or poorly loaded truck is also more likely to collide with other vehicles when the driver is forced to brake quickly on wet pavement or  to avoid other vehicles or road hazards.

Unsecured Loads

Because of the open cargo area, flatbed truck accidents frequently result from unsecured and lost freight. For this reason, federal regulations require that drivers use industrial-strength straps, chains, or tarps to secure most flatbed loads and make periodic inspections to ensure cargo won’t come loose.

Flatbed truck crashes involving lost cargo and unsecured loads are almost always preventable and usually result from over-tightening of straps, the use of inadequate chains, or a failure to replace worn safety equipment. When a flatbed truck loses its load, there’s a high likelihood that flying cargo will smash windshields on other vehicles, obstruct the roadway, and trigger a multi-vehicle crash with the potential to cause serious injury and even death.

Brake Failure

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), brake problems were the leading mechanical cause of large truck accidents over the past decade. Large flatbed trucks require much more time to stop and are more likely to collide with other vehicles and objects when their brakes aren’t in good working order.

Rear-End Collisions

Anything — distracted driving, fatigued driving, speeding, reckless driving, and mechanical failures — that prevents a trucker from stopping in time can cause a flatbed truck to smash into the back of another vehicle.

Who Can I Sue If I’m Hurt in a Flatbed Truck Crash?

As is the case with other commercial vehicle accidents, multiple parties may be liable when a flatbed truck crash injures or kills an innocent motorist, including:

  • The truck driver, their employer, and the truck company (if different) would likely share responsibility if driver negligence was responsible for the accident.
  • The cargo company or the company responsible for loading the freight might be liable if an unsecured or lost load caused the crash
  • A manufacturer could be held responsible if faulty brakes or other defective truck components were a factor in the accident.
  • A mechanic could be at fault if their failure to adequately inspect or repair the flatbed truck contributed to the wreck.

Determining liability in a truck accident is a complex undertaking that requires a careful review of all available evidence:

  • Skid marks, road conditions, and debris from the crash site.
  • The truck and all other vehicles involved.
  • Police reports and witness statements.
  • The truck driver’s activity logs detailing the time they spent behind the wheel as well as their rest breaks.
  • The flatbed truck’s “black box” event data recorder.
  • The trucking company’s training and employment records.

In some cases, accident reconstruction specialists may be needed to conduct a forensic analysis and interpret data from the crash site. A court order might also be needed to obtain the trucking company’s records and release of the flatbed truck for inspection.

Having successfully represented thousands of clients against the largest trucking and transportation companies in the world, our Experienced and Undefeated Truck Accident Lawyers know what evidence is needed to prove the trucking company and its driver were at fault, where to look for that evidence, and how to ensure its preserved before the company has a chance to “lose” or destroy logs and records crucial to your case.

We also have the resources to send a top accident reconstruction team to the crash scene. Their expert analysis will allow our attorneys to identify all of the factors that contributed to the accident, including whether the trucking company complied with safety regulations and laws, the speed the flatbed truck was traveling, and whether the driver was intoxicated, distracted, or fatigued.

What to Do After a Flatbed Truck Accident

A flatbed truck accident is far more likely to result in catastrophic injuries and deaths compared to a typical motor vehicle crash. As such, the verdicts and settlements that result from these cases are usually much larger as well, and frequently break records.

To avoid a record-setting verdict or settlement, the trucking company and its insurer might be willing to do just about anything to blame you for the crash avoid paying you and your family the compensation you truly deserve. To combat their tactics, you must act quickly to protect your rights and your future:

  • Call 911 Immediately: This ensures police arrive on the scene to fully document the accident and prepare a written report. Their report could be instrumental in fighting any attempts by the company or its insurer to blame you for the crash.
  • Collect and Document Evidence at the Crash Scene: If you’re physically able and it’s safe to do so, use your smartphone to take photos and video of the accident scene. Be sure to record any skid marks, damage done to all involved vehicles, and lighting and other road conditions in the area. You should also make note of the truck driver’s name, the name of the trucking company, all vehicle license plates, the name of the truck driver’s insurance company and policy number, and contact information for any witnesses.
  • Go to the Emergency Room, even if You Think You’re Fine: Symptoms of even serious injuries may not be apparent right after a crash, especially when your adrenaline is pumping. Heading to the emergency room – even if you don’t think you were hurt – will ensure all of your injuries are fully documented in case the company attempts to downplay their severity.
  • Get in Touch with Your Insurance Company: Even if you’re absolutely sure you weren’t to blame, notifying your insurance company will help you avoid a detail of coverage that would prevent you from receiving PIP, Med-Pay, and other benefits that could otherwise be used to help cover your medical bills and other expenses.
  • Don’t Communicate with the Trucking Company’s Insurer: No matter what they might promise, always keep in mind that the trucking company’s insurance adjuster is only interested in minimizing your injuries and blaming you for the crash. You should not speak to them or agree to give them a recorded statement, and you’re under no obligation to do so.
  • Follow Your Doctors’ Orders: When you miss medical appointments and fail to follow your doctors’ advice, you’re giving the trucking company and its insurer the ammunition they need to downplay your injuries and avoid paying you all that you are owed. You should also keep records of co-payments and other out-of-pocket expenses related to your treatments.
  • Document Your Recovery: Keeping a journal of your recovery helps to document the full extent of your pain and suffering, the ways your injuries have caused your quality of life to diminish, and your good-faith efforts to heal.

Undefeated Truck Accident Lawyers with Billions Won: Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here for a Free Consult.

Our Undefeated Truck Accident Lawyers have won billions for those harmed by negligent trucking companies and reckless commercial drivers, including the Largest Accident Verdicts and Settlements in Texas and in our opponents’ corporate histories.

To learn more about our success representing truck and 18-wheeler accident victims, visit our “Results” page or Click Here to see what our clients have said about their experience with our firm.

If you were hurt or experienced the wrongful death of a loved one in a flatbed truck accident, our attorneys can help. Please call 1-888-603-3636, use the form on the right, or click here to send us a confidential email.

All consultations are free and, because we only work for a contingency fee, you won’t owe us a dime unless we win your case.