If “heavy truck cab guard” is searched on Google, more than 1.5 million results appear. And, at least on the first page, none of those results will tell you that many of them – if not most – do not work, although a majority of trucks on the road use the devices. What does it look like when a cab guard, which as its name suggests, is intended to protect the truck cab during a crash from shifting load, fails to do so? It will result in either severe injury or death. This was the scenario in a case filed in Alabama on behalf of Larry Albritton’s family. He was killed on Oct. 7, 2013, while driving a log truck when the load on his trailer shifted, causing the log truck to roll over on its side. When the load of logs shifted forward in the rollover, they breached the truck’s cab and struck the driver, resulting in his death.
Few people know the aluminum guards as currently designed are too weak to save a driver’s life. Thousands of log trucks use cab guards that are worthless for protection. The guards attach to the backs of 18-wheelers pulling flat beds, trailers and log trailers and should function to prevent shifting cargo from hitting the cab of large trucks. However, as we have discovered, that’s not the reality. Most of the cab guards are not strong enough to withstand the movement of even one log on a log truck, much less the large numbers that are placed on the trailers.
In a quest to increase profits, cab guard manufacturers often choose to use aluminum rather than something stronger like steel, which would not sacrifice safety, without accurately testing the consequences of the decision. For instance, one brand of cab guard available for purchase through the “heavy truck cab guard” Google search states, “All Cab Racks are tested to uniform static resistance.” In technical terms, it is saying its ability to protect a driver was tested while the truck was not moving. No wreck is static; one log could cause a failure. Cab guard manufacturers’ shortcuts continue to prove costly for consumers who believe they are protected because of a cab guard being in place.
As a result of the cab guard litigation handled by our firm, two of the companies making the cab guards have made significant safety-related changes. Those guard manufacturers now say on their websites that cab guards should not be used as safety devices on log trucks. In fact, when clicking on “cab guard” on one company’s website, a warning box appears stating the device will not prevent serious injury or death. The company now says that the cab guards are not to be used on log trucks. The warnings are a welcome step in the right direction for protecting unsuspecting log truck drivers who think they are safe. In the Albritton case, the jury returned a $16.8 million verdict against the manufacturer. The changes by the two companies that manufacture and sell cab guards are the direct result of the litigation against them by our firm.
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