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Dump-Truck Tipping Death and Liability

An AT&T worker was killed on December 9 because he was standing next to an 18-wheel dump truck that tipped over on a cul-de-sac in Travis County. He was there working on a home in a development with several houses under construction, and the truck, which was extending to dump its load, went off balance and killed him in the process.

The father of three was forty-six years old. The case is under investigation by government agencies that will hopefully identify the cause of this terrible tragedy. OSHA and The Texas Department of Public Safety will look into many scenarios, including whether the load weight and the road slope contributed to the tipping. Who, if anyone, will be held liable yet remains to be seen.

Safety Violations a Recurrent Problem

Many safety concerns surrounded the vehicle and driver as well. According to KXAN News, the company that owns the rig has received twenty-six violations in just three inspections that have taken place since June 2016. The driver was twice found not have a commercial vehicle license to operate the rig, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Either of these things can mean trouble for the dump truck owner, a construction company, as they are responsible for the safety of their vehicle and the fitness to drive of their employee. As detailed in the Texas Civil Code regarding wrongful death, the owner can be held responsible for “the person's, servant's, or agent's wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unfitness, unskillfulness, or default.”

Risk of Tipping High

Anyone operating a dump truck should be well-versed in proper procedure because their risk of tipping is extreme, especially with vehicles such as the 18-wheeled one involved in this incident. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has published a safety PDF that begins: “Hazard: As end-dump truck bodies and semi-trailer dumping rigs get longer, the incidence of vehicles tipping over has increased. This type of accident is more frequently connected with semi-trailer rigs than with straight trucks.”

Perhaps the accident could have been prevented had these relevant recommendations and precautions been adhered to:

  • Dumping on surfaces that are not level is one of the main causes of tip-overs and should be avoided.
  • Having a large amount of material in the upper portion of the raised box causes tip-overs.
  • Other personnel such as dozer operators, surveyors, and spotters should not work near a dumping truck in case it tips over.
  • Workers should not congregate in areas where dumping is under way.

Austin Truck Accident and Wrongful Death Attorneys

It’s not uncommon for tragic accidents like the one described above to lead to a wrongful death lawsuit once liability is proven. In cases of wrongful death or personal injury, you need to turn to a law firm well-versed in Texas civil law. Colley & Colley, LLP has decades of experience winning these cases and battling insurance companies for the best possible settlements. Contact us today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation by either calling 1-877-411-2001 or completing the form below.