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Santa Barbara Runaway Trailer Accident Lawyers

We Fight for People Injured by Commercial Trucks

Few crashes are worse than those involving semi-trucks. When a truck cab becomes detached from its trailer, it is known as a “runaway trailer” accident. These trailers claim lives around the country, and are especially dangerous on Santa Barbara’s winding roads, like the Pacific Coast Highway.

A little bit of negligence can end in tragedy for a commercial motor vehicle, so the trucking industry has a duty to ensure its rigs are in good shape and being operated by competent drivers. Drivers who would never speed, overload their trailers, or skip sleep just to make deadlines. Sadly, this is not the case. Many trucks in California violate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations, and our law firm has seen it firsthand.

If you were injured by a runaway trailer, call NordstrandBlack PC at (805) 962-2022. We can start a thorough investigation into the causes of your truck accident, putting liability where it truly belongs and getting you the compensation you deserve.


Trucking Cases NordstrandBlack PC Has Handled:

  • $690,000 Settlement for Truck-Car Collision: A big rig ran through intersection, colliding with an elderly couple’s vehicle. The man had post-concussion syndrome, and the woman suffered shoulder impingement and loss of consortium.
  • $595,000 Verdict for Truck-Bike Collision: A pickup truck ran into a bicyclist in a bike lane, causing him a non-displaced tibia plateau fracture and acetabular tear. Read more Case Results here.

∗ Selected cases listed. Every case is different. Past case results are not a guarantee, and similar results may not be obtained in your case. View more case results here.


What Causes Runaway Trailers?

Steep inclines and poor road conditions, like rain and gravel, can contribute to runaway trailers, but they are not the only cause. Big rigs are made of multiple parts: the cab, the trailer or flatbed, and perhaps a second trailer. In our experience, the usual causes of trailer-related accidents include:

  • Overloading: Commercial trucks are assigned a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) based on their size and mechanics. However, many in the trucking industry deliberately overload their rigs to squeeze out more profits. A heavier truck is harder to control, and the trailer’s frame is under added pressure, making a malfunction more likely.
  • Uneven loading: When cargo is loaded, it needs to be distributed evenly and tied down securely. An unbalanced 18-wheeler is a dangerous 18-wheeler, since these large trucks already have a higher center of gravity, and a sharp turn could end in disaster.
  • Not fastening the hitch: Human error is the cause of most tractor-trailer accidents, and truck drivers are required to stop every set number of miles to inspect their load. Even though these protocols are in place, we’ve seen truckers fail to double-check their hitch and secure the trailer compartment’s doors, leading to crashes.
  • Weak/malfunctioning hitch: It may be a manufacturer’s design defect that causes a hitch to snap off, sending a trailer hurtling through traffic. Or perhaps there was a weak point in the assembly line, which was not caught by quality control. Either way, if the hitch was faulty, the manufacturer of the hitch may be to blame.
  • Aggressive maneuvers: A trucker who speeds may take a dangerous curve or incline too fast, stressing the hitch past the point of breaking. A trucker who makes sharp turns can also snap a hitch.

What Accidents Can Trailers Cause?

Runaway trailers have been known to barrel across traffic and crash into other vehicles. But the trailer of a truck can also:

  • Jackknife: The trailer “folds in” toward the cab like a knife, swiping across lanes of traffic and running over cars in between. It may not detach completely from the cab, but the damage is similar.
  • Rollover: Especially on an incline, a trailer may hit an obstacle and tip over, either sliding on its side or continuing to roll. Any cars in the way could be crushed.
  • Obstruction: Even if a runaway trailer does not hit another vehicle, it may come to rest in the middle of a busy street or around a blind curve, creating multiple collisions with oncoming traffic.

Truck accident victims are often left with catastrophic injuries, such as head trauma, crushed or severed limbs, spinal cord damage, internal bleeding, and more. Treating these injuries is expensive, and if the negligence of a trucker or trucking company was to blame, they should be the ones paying for it.

Who Should You Call After a Truck Crash in Southern California?

Runaway trailers are the direct result of improper vehicle maintenance and bad driving. If a negligent trucker or trucking company caused your injuries, don’t hesitate to call a truck accident attorney. NordstrandBlack PC has over 30 years of experience with personal injury claims in the Santa Barbara area, from Goleta to San Luis Obispo. Call (805) 962-2022 to set up a free consultation at our office on Mission Street.

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