Dump trucks are at the core of the construction industry. According to recent statistical projections, the American dump truck service market will be worth $20.64 billion by 2025.
With this growth also comes an increase in dump truck-related injuries. Data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that 8 percent of all fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2019 resulted from dump truck accidents.
Tip-Over Accidents and Uneven Ground
The most prevalent type of dump truck accident is tip-overs. Several factors make dump trucks susceptible to tip-overs, with stability being top on the list. Under normal circumstances, a dump truck should not tip over, but ideal operational situations are an exception rather than normality in construction sites.
A dump truck is designed with a center of gravity between the frame rails when offloading. Even a slight slope can significantly move the center of gravity from the ideal position, considerably increasing the chances of a tip-over.
Sometimes, the ground may seem flat and ideal. However, if not compacted in some areas, the truck’s wheels could sink under the weight of the load. If you are operating a dump truck on an unfamiliar site, it is always important to check it before lifting the dump bed.
Poorly Loaded Material and Load Flow
Another contributory factor to truck tip-over accidents is poorly loaded material, which can result in too much weight on one side of the dump bed. Poorly loaded material is not only hazardous when offloading. It also creates a high chance of an accident if the truck must get on the road when hauling material from one location to another.
Poor load flow can cause instability and a tip-over when dumping. You may also want to avoid operating in strong winds, as they can cause instability. Other factors like poor truck maintenance, faulty suspension systems, uneven tire pressure, and worn-out hydraulic lifting components can also contribute to tip-overs.
Who Is Liable, Operator Or Employer?
Liability for dump truck tip-over accidents is dependent on the underlying circumstances. If a dump truck operator offloads on the uneven ground resulting in an accident where another person is injured, they could be liable for resulting damages.
If the operator is an employee of a dumping truck company, their employer will be liable for damages under the “respondeat superior” theory. The respondeat superior theory holds employers responsible for damages resulting from their employees’ actions as long as they were engaged in a work-related activity.
However, the operator could be liable for resulting damages if an accident happens while they were acting outside their scope of work, or if they acted with malicious intent to cause harm.
Accidents resulting from poor truck maintenance will see the truck company or owner liable for resulting damages. There are situations where the dump truck services company may not be liable for injuries resulting from equipment failure. For example, if equipment failure results from a faulty part, the affected party can file a products liability lawsuit against the faulty part maker.
“If you have suffered injuries in a dump truck tip-over accident, you may need to talk to a local truck accident lawyer,” says personal injury lawyer Jon Ostroff of Ostroff Injury Law. However, the dynamics of a truck accident case can differ significantly from a normal car accident claim, so you want to be sure your attorney has a record of handling truck accidents and recovering fair compensation for their clients.