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Runaway Trailer Accidents

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Commercial vehicles are far heavier than standard-sized vehicles, so stopping them tends to require a lot more time and more distance. To help, commercial trucks are equipped with brakes not only on the cab of the vehicle, but on the trailer portion as well. The failure of the brakes on either part of the truck can have devastating consequences, even resulting in a runaway trailer accident.

What is a Runaway Trailer Accident?

Runaway trailer accidents occur when a truck driver loses control of a vehicle’s trailer, which can happen in a variety of ways, but usually involves the separation of the trailer from the cab entirely because of:

  • The use of defective safety chains or another issue with the connection between the cab and trailer;
  • A failure to properly connect the cab to the trailer;
  • A failure to engage the safety brakes; or
  • A crash with another object or vehicle, which struck the trailer and knocked it away from the cab.

Whatever the case of the separation of a trailer from the cab of a commercial vehicle, there is basically no way to stop it once it occurs. Often, the trailer picks up speed and collides with things in its path, causing catastrophic injuries and property damage across multiple lanes of traffic. In other cases, the trailer actually slows down before coming to a stop in the middle of the road, blocking other vehicles, and creating a traffic hazard. If they separate at the top of a hill, trailers can even roll backwards into traffic.

Runaway Trailers and Jackknife Accidents

Some runaway trailer accidents don’t actually involve the separation of the cab from the trailer, but the failure of the brakes on the trailer portion of the truck. This is a plausible scenario with semi-trucks, whose brakes must cope with a lot of wear and tear and are responsible for stopping up to 80,000 pounds worth of momentum. When the brakes on a trailer fail, it could swing out to the side, causing a jackknife accident. This is particularly likely if the roads are wet or the truck is traveling around a curve at the time of the failure. A jackknifing trailer can result in a loss of control of the cab and can also block multiple lanes of traffic. Even when a trailer’s brakes fail and it doesn’t jackknife, its momentum can push the trailer into the back of the cab, resulting in a loss of control for the driver. This scenario is so common that states place ramps off to the side of many interstate highways, which give drivers somewhere to direct their trucks until they can slow down. Unfortunately, these lanes aren’t always enough to prevent accidents.

Call Our Office After a Georgia Truck Accident

Were you involved in a truck accident in Georgia? Do you have questions about your legal options? Feel free to call Shiver Hamilton Campbell and speak with one of our experienced Sandy Springs truck accident lawyers about your questions and concerns. You can schedule an initial consultation by calling 404-593-0020 today.

Sources:

fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2018

ajc.com/news/national/children-young-adults-killed-runaway-trailer/jYqapgkanOsQkJl3JnN7xH/

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