If you were injured by flying debris in a truck accident, understanding who may be liable for your injuries and damages can help you receive the compensation you sorely need. Several parties may be responsible for your damages, including the truck driver, the trucking company, and the cargo loader, based on the circumstances of your case.
A skilled road debris crash attorney from Wagner Reese can investigate your cargo-related crash to determine who is at fault. We will help you file a claim with the responsible parties to get the restitution you deserve.
Types of Cargo Accidents
Cargo accidents are caused by avoidable or unavoidable debris on the road. Avoidable debris is stationary cargo, car parts, or other objects that have fallen off a truck and landed on the ground. Unavoidable, or “flying” debris, is cargo such as furniture, boxes, wood, metal, and other items that come loose and hit another vehicle while still in the air.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, accidents due to shifting cargo account for about 4% of truck accidents in the U.S. Around 3.1% of fatal crashes occur with trucks carrying grain or gravel, and 8.4% have a dump truck cargo type.
While these numbers may seem low, that doesn’t mean they are insignificant. The American Automobile Association (AAA) found that between 2011 and 2014, loose cargo contributed to 125 deaths and 9,805 injuries in auto accidents in the U.S.
Who is Liable if You’re Hit by Cargo Falling Off a Truck?
If your vehicle is hit by loose cargo and you suffer injuries, you can file a compensation claim against any party found responsible for the accident, including multiple parties. This is good news for victims, as many truck accident cases involve more than one liable party, including the driver, trucking company, and whoever loaded the cargo onto the truck.
- The Trucking Company
Trucking companies are responsible for maintaining the safety of their trucking fleets and ensuring their employees follow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines.
The company may be responsible if the loose cargo or debris that caused your accident resulted from poorly maintaining their trucks, causing parts to break or fall off mid-transit. Additionally, if the company forced the driver to carry more cargo than legally allowed, you can include them in your claim.
- The Party Who Loaded the Cargo
The person or company that loaded the cargo may be partially responsible for injuries you suffered in a debris accident. The FMCSA has released cargo securement rules that all trucks operating interstate must follow.
The requirements include using the appropriate number and type of securement device, such as tie downs, and ensuring the loads can withstand .8g (force of gravity) when decelerating forward, and .5g when accelerating backward or laterally. If the cargo loader does not follow the proper procedures for securing cargo and this error results in an accident, you may be able to seek a settlement from their insurer.
- The Truck Driver
Truck driver error is responsible for 87% of large truck crashes. If the driver drove erratically, causing a jackknife or rollover that loosened cargo, they may be liable for your injuries. If the driver was speeding or driving under the influence, they may be partially responsible for damages.
Typically a driver employed with a trucking company is covered by their employer’s insurance; however, if an independently contracted driver causes your damages, you can seek a settlement from their own insurance.
Why it’s Important to Work with a Truck Accident Attorney
Sustaining an injury from falling cargo off a truck can be a traumatic and life-altering experience. Consulting an attorney can help determine who is liable and what financial compensation you can recover, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, or even punitive damages.
Truck accident cases are complex, and an Indiana truck crash lawyer can help you navigate the state’s complicated laws, such as comparative fault, which allows you to still claim compensation even if you are partially at fault (up to 50%) for your accident accident.
A lawyer can also collect and preserve crucial evidence necessary to support your claim. For example, they can request the truck’s driving logs, maintenance records, and police incident reports filed. They can also retrieve security camera footage, interview witnesses, and consult experts to build a strong case.
Your lawyer will negotiate with all involved insurance companies to reach a fair settlement and represent your interests in court if necessary. By consulting a lawyer, you can ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve for your losses.
Injured Due to Falling Cargo? Contact an Experienced Lawyer
When you are injured by falling cargo in a truck accident, understanding who is liable for your damages is crucial to filing a successful claim and receiving the compensation you deserve. Our experienced attorneys at Wagner Reese have extensive experience in handling truck accident cases, including those involving falling cargo, and have a proven track record of success.
Our team will fight for your rights and ensure that you receive compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs related to your injury and compensation for pain and suffering.
Our initial consultations are free, so you can learn about your options and our legal services.