Gravel-truck spill causes pileup on Nevada interstate near Derby Dam

A recent gravel-truck spill in northern Nevada caused a huge pileup.

On a July 2014 morning, a three-trailer commercial gravel truck leaked part of its load of dirt and gravel on Interstate 80 about 20 miles east of Sparks, Nevada, causing a pileup of more than 20 motor vehicles, including one motorcycle. Luckily, no one was seriously injured in the multi-vehicle accident, although a woman went into labor while in backed-up, stopped traffic, and nine people were reported to have had minor or moderate injuries. Both westbound lanes were blocked for at least two hours.

A Nevada Department of Public Safety news release says that the truck was owned by a Sparks trucking company. According to the Elko Daily Free Press, the 61-year-old truck driver from Reno was cited in the incident and fined more than $1,000. Alcohol or drugs were not involved, according to the government media release.

The Elko Daily Free Press article cites a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper as saying that in the truck accident one of the trailers spilled its load, but that the cause is still not known. At least one of the trailers was a so-called belly-dump trailer that opens from the bottom to deliver a loose load like one of gravel, but it is unclear from news reports if that is the trailer that spilled.

Reportedly, when the vehicles hit the loose gravel, they spun out and ran into guardrails.

Truck accident liability

While the cause of this particular accident is not known, the nature of the incident raises issues of liability in truck accidents that relate to safe transport of cargo. For example, in an accident like the Nevada gravel spill, if someone were injured or sustained property damage to his or her vehicle, an experienced Nevada personal injury attorney could advise the victim about potentially responsible parties in a civil lawsuit:

  • The driver: Was he or she in any way negligent or reckless? Was he or she driving while distracted by phone use, texting, eating, talking or anything else? Was there evidence of driving while fatigued, drunk or under the influence of drugs? Were any traffic citations or criminal charges issued in the incident? Was he or she properly licensed? Did he or she comply with federal and state trucking regulations regarding required sleep amounts and time limits on travel?
  • The trucking company: Was the driver properly screened and trained? Was the truck appropriate and safe to transport the particular cargo? Was the freight loaded, distributed and fastened down safely? Did the cargo exceed legal or safe weight limits? Was the truck properly maintained and repaired?
  • The truck manufacturer: Was the truck safely designed and manufactured? Did any parts contain latent defects?
  • The truck maintenance company: Did mechanics hired to do repair or maintenance do so according to industry standards and without negligence?
  • The insurers: Do policies carried by any of the involved parties contain coverage that would apply to the injured party's losses?
  • The governmental entity responsible for the road: Was the road safely designed and maintained?
  • And potentially other parties

What might appear to be a simple truck accident can be quite complex from a legal standpoint, so anyone who suffers a loss in such an incident should speak with a knowledgeable lawyer as early as possible. Legal counsel will launch a private investigation on behalf of the victim, deal with insurance companies and advise about legal remedies, including a potential suit.

Keywords: gravel spill, truck accident, Nevada, Sparks, Interstate 80, pileup, car accident, motor vehicle accident, trailer, cargo, freight, liability, lawsuit