Truck Sway Can Cause Devastating Damage and Injuries

Truck Sway Can Cause Devastating Damage and InjuriesSharing the road with massive commercial trucks is a reality for all drivers. While these huge vehicles deliver essential goods across Virginia and the rest of the country, their immense size and weight also introduce significant safety concerns. One major risk often underestimated is trailer sway, a seemingly unimportant movement that can escalate into catastrophic accidents.

What is truck sway?

A commercial truck trailer isn’t rigidly attached to the cab. Instead, it connects through a coupling, allowing for articulation during turns. While this flexibility is important for proper maneuvering, it also introduces the possibility of trailer sway. This occurs when external forces cause the trailer to move from side to side in a pendulum-like motion.

Several factors can contribute to trailer sway:

  • Improper loading: Uneven weight distribution within the trailer creates an imbalance, making it more susceptible to swaying. When cargo isn’t secured properly, it can shift during transit, further exacerbating the issue.
  • High winds: Strong crosswinds can push the trailer sideways, causing instability. This is particularly dangerous on long stretches of open highway or when crossing bridges.
  • Sudden maneuvers: Taking sharp turns or braking abruptly can cause trailer sway, especially if the trailer is already loaded unevenly or the driver is inexperienced.
  • Road conditions: Uneven pavement, potholes, or debris can cause the trailer to bounce or jolt, potentially initiating sway.
  • Equipment failure: Worn-out trailer suspension components, tires, or malfunctioning brakes can significantly increase the risk of trailer sway.

How does trailer sway lead to accidents?

Trailer sway, if left unchecked, can quickly escalate into a serious accident. Here’s how:

  • Jackknifing: This occurs when the trailer swings outwards at a sharp angle relative to the cab, forming a “V” shape. This makes it nearly impossible for the driver to regain control, often leading to a collision with other vehicles or a rollover accident.
  • Loss of control: Even without a full jackknife, trailer sway can significantly reduce the driver’s ability to control the vehicle. The trailer’s momentum can push the truck off course, leading to a lane departure or a collision with roadside objects.
  • Rear-end collisions: If a trailer starts to sway erratically, it can suddenly veer into another lane, causing a collision with vehicles behind the truck.

Consequences of trailer sway accidents

Accidents caused by trailer sway can have catastrophic consequences. The sheer size and weight of commercial trucks involved mean the forces at play are immense. Here are some potential outcomes:

  • Severe injuries: Passengers in all involved vehicles can suffer serious injuries, ranging from whiplash and broken bones to head trauma and spinal cord damage.
  • Fatalities: Due to the high-impact forces, fatalities are a tragic reality in many trailer sway accidents.
  • Property damage: Vehicles involved can be completely destroyed, and surrounding infrastructure can also be damaged in the process.
  • Secondary accidents: Trailer sway accidents can often trigger multi-vehicle accidents, further escalating the damage and injuries.

How can I avoid a trailer sway accident?

While the risk of trailer sway accidents can’t be entirely eliminated, there are steps drivers can take to minimize their vulnerability:

  • Maintain a safe distance: Leave ample space between your vehicle and a commercial truck, especially in windy conditions. This allows you more reaction time if the trailer starts to sway.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: Pay attention to the truck’s movement and any potential hazards on the road, such as uneven pavement or strong winds.
  • Avoid sudden maneuvers: Don’t cut off trucks or make erratic lane changes near them. Maintain a predictable driving pattern.
  • Use caution when passing: Only pass a truck when it’s safe to do so and complete the maneuver swiftly. Don’t linger alongside a trailer.
  • Report unsafe trucks: If you see a truck with unevenly loaded cargo or apparent equipment issues, report it to the authorities.

The responsibility for preventing trailer sway accidents isn’t solely for other drivers, however. Truck drivers and trucking companies also play a role:

  • Proper loading procedures: Companies must ensure cargo is secured and evenly distributed to minimize the risk of sway.
  • Regular maintenance: Trucks need regular inspections and maintenance to ensure all components, especially the suspension and brakes, are functioning correctly.
  • Driver training: Drivers should receive comprehensive training on handling trailer dynamics, including recognizing and responding to trailer sway situations.

How our truck accident attorneys can help

If you’ve been involved in a truck accident caused by trailer sway, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and property damage. Our experienced Richmond-based truck accident attorneys can help you work through the complexities of these cases. Here’s how we can assist you:

  • Investigate the cause: We can thoroughly investigate the accident to determine the cause of the trailer sway. This may involve reviewing police reports, witness statements, truck maintenance records, and cargo loading procedures.
  • Identify liable parties: Depending on the cause of the accident, liability could fall on the trucking company for improper loading or maintenance, the truck driver for negligent actions, or a third party responsible for road hazards. Our attorneys can identify the at-fault parties to pursue compensation.
  • Build a strong case: Our attorneys can gather evidence, including medical records, lost wage documentation, and vehicle repair estimates, to build a solid case that demonstrates the extent of your damages.
  • Negotiate a fair settlement: Many truck accident cases are settled out of court. Your attorney negotiates aggressively with insurance companies to secure the maximum compensation you deserve.
  • Represent you in court: If a fair settlement cannot be reached, our attorneys can represent you in court and present your case to a judge and jury.

The aftermath of a trailer sway accident can be stressful and overwhelming. Having a skilled attorney by your side can alleviate some of that burden and ensure your rights are protected. Don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel if you’ve been a victim of such an accident.

If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by trailer sway, don’t face this challenge alone. At Phelan Petty Injury Lawyers, our team of experienced truck accident attorneys has a proven track record of holding negligent parties accountable and securing maximum compensation for our clients. Don’t settle for anything less than what you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation. We fight tirelessly to protect your rights and get you the resources you need to heal and move forward. To schedule a consultation with a Richmond-based injury attorney, simply call our offices or fill out our contact form. We serve clients throughout Virginia.