If you have driven on the highway, odds are that you have been behind large trucks carrying everything from lumber to roofing materials, concrete, and hazardous waste. And perhaps the thought crossed your mind concerning what would happen if some of those materials fell off the truck. Well, sometimes that material does in fact fall so let’s discuss what happens if you are injured by cargo falling off a truck.
Proving Liability When Trucking Materials Fall and Cause Injuries
When an accident occurs, the basis for any legal action comes down to the issue of liability. Someone—an individual or entity—must have been negligent for them to be held liable for the accident and any injuries that were sustained. When cargo falls off a truck and injures someone, proving accountability for the accident can be complicated. In addition to the many factors that contributed to the accident, several different parties may hold some level of liability. This may include any of the following:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Truck manufacturer
- Person who loaded the cargo onto the truck
- Individual responsible for enforcing safety protocols
- Individual responsible for maintenance of the truck
When materials fall off a truck, it may be due to negligence, or it could be attributable to defective materials. Discovering who is responsible for the cargo falling and injuring someone is not necessarily straightforward.
Improper Loading of Cargo
Trucking companies and truck drivers are legally obligated to ensure that any cargo loaded onto a truck is properly secured and capable of withstanding the journey. Large and hefty commercial vehicles travel at high speeds on the highway, generating significant vibrations and swaying. If the truck’s cargo is not loaded properly, this may cause the truck to shed debris, rocks, or other materials while traversing roads and highways. When one object falls from the truck’s cargo area, the consequences can be catastrophic. And when multiple items fall onto the road, the scale of the accident can increase dramatically, causing numerous injuries and damage.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has regulations for cargo securement to prevent items from shifting on or within a commercial motor vehicle, or from falling off the truck. These include laws regarding the proper use of tie-downs to ensure that cargo is firmly secured and the minimum number of tie-downs required. Generally speaking, a driver is not permitted to operate a commercial motor vehicle unless the cargo is properly distributed and adequately secured, and a motor carrier may not allow or require a truck driver to drive that vehicle unless the safety standards are met.
Truck Driver Liability for Cargo Falling
The driver of a commercial truck is legally required to ensure that all of the established safety protocols for loading cargo have been satisfied. The driver is also required to inspect the cargo within the first 50 miles of the journey, make adjustments to secure the cargo, and continue making adjustments as needed during the trip. If these actions aren’t done, the truck driver may be held liable if cargo falls off the truck. In addition to liability for improperly loaded cargo, the truck driver may also have liability for the accident due to:
- Driver fatigue
- Distracted driving
- Driving over the speed limit
- Aggressive driving
- Driver error
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failure to obey traffic laws
Any sudden swerving or stopping of a commercial vehicle can lead to the cargo falling off the truck.
Recover Compensation for Injuries Sustained From Falling Truck Cargo
Accident claims involving cargo falling off trucks can be particularly challenging due to the number of parties that may be somewhat responsible and the varying factors that may have contributed to the accident. A skilled truck accident attorney handling your case is necessary to navigate the complexities of the law and recover compensation for your injuries. The personal injury attorneys at Cullotta Bravo Law have been serving accident victims in Aurora and Naperville, Illinois, for more than 30 years. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation at 630-898-7800.