Posted on behalf of Anderson Cummings on Nov 26, 2021 in Auto Accidents
As more and more people move to Texas, there is a sharp increase in the number of vehicles carrying cargo. There are also plenty of commercial trucks on Texas roadways.
If the items on the back of a car or truck are not properly secured, they could fall off and cause various types of accidents. The driver of the vehicle that once contained the object and others may be liable for damages that result from these crashes.
Our experienced car crash lawyers in Fort Worth are prepared to help you determine who should be held responsible for your damages so you may recover the compensation you need.
Below, we discuss what factors into liability for an accident caused by falling cargo.
Duty of Care May Help Determine Liability
When it comes to determining who is liable for an accident caused by objects that fall off vehicles, it is important to remember that everyone involved still has a duty of care to uphold. The person or party who breaches that duty could be held liable for damages.
Liability may fall to the driver of the vehicle an object falls from. This is because the driver has a duty of care to others on the road to drive in a manner that would minimize the likelihood of something falling off his or her vehicle.
For example, a person transporting a mattress on a vehicle’s rooftop must be mindful of speed to avoid the mattress getting too much wind under it. If the driver is the one who loaded the object, he or she must have also taken the necessary precautions to secure the mattress properly.
In some cases, the objects loaded onto a car may have been loaded by another party. For example, some people who need help loading things like Christmas trees or furniture onto their vehicles may have someone from the store do it. The person who does this owes a duty of care to the driver of the vehicle to assure that the item is properly secured to avoid an accident.
If the vehicle does not have the right equipment to safely transport the cargo, the person at the shop also has the responsibility to tell that driver he or she may not take the items until the correct equipment is used. If this third party fails to uphold his or her duty of care, the third party could bear liability for damages.
Did the Object Fall from a Truck?
Just as everyday drivers and cargo loaders have a duty of care to others, so do commercial truck drivers and people who load cargo onto these vehicles. However, truck drivers are legally required to abide by state and federal laws regarding cargo on their trucks.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle by structures of adequate strength.
Trucks are not supposed to be loaded beyond the available means for securing loads. Any cargo that can easily roll around or move inside a trailer must be secured to prevent movement.
In addition to following federal cargo load laws, truck drivers in Texas must also follow state regulations that ensure loose material is covered and firmly secured at both the front and back ends. If the cargo cannot be secured, it must be completely enclosed.
If the item that caused your accident fell from a truck, there may be various parties who could be liable. First, it is important to establish the classification of the truck and driver responsible for the object that fell. Establishing who loaded the cargo and what caused it to fall is also important. Our attorneys are prepared to help you through this process, as it may require a thorough investigation.
Depending on whose negligence resulted in the accident, you may be able to recover compensation from the driver of the truck, the owner of the truck, or a company that either owns or leases the truck.
What if the Object Was Avoidable?
Sometimes objects fall off a vehicle and the driver of said vehicle does not realize it, resulting in road debris that may be avoided by other drivers. However, it is important to note that even though the object may be avoided, it does not mean an accident could be. For example, a piece of furniture that falls off the bed of a pickup truck on a freeway could cause drivers to swerve to avoid it. But swerving could easily result in a crash.
What if I Was Hit by a Driver Who Swerved?
If you were hit by a driver who swerved to avoid an object on the road that fell from a vehicle, recovering compensation from that driver could be more complex. The driver could argue he or she acted in a manner that any other person would have to avoid crashing into the object.
However, it is important that a proper investigation is conducted to assure the driver did not have time to react or could have reacted in a different manner to avoid a crash. For example, a distracted driver may not have seen the object in the roadway until the last minute. Had he or she been paying attention to the road he or she would have been prepared to stop in time or change lanes ahead of time.
What if I Swerved and Hit Another Vehicle?
Just as a driver who swerves to avoid the object and hits you has the right to the sudden emergency defense, so do you. If you did not have time to act to avoid a crash because an object fell off a vehicle, you might not be held liable for damages. Instead, liability would once again fall onto either the driver of the vehicle from where the object fell or the person who loaded the item.
Call an Experienced Attorney
If you were injured in an accident caused by road debris or an object that fell from a vehicle, you may be eligible for compensation. Determining who is financially liable for your damages may be complex, though, which is when you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced attorney.
Our lawyers have over 50 years of combined experience and have helped our clients recover millions in compensation. We are prepared to help file and investigate your claim to help prove someone else’s negligence caused your injuries.
The consultation is free and there are no fees unless we win.
Call (817) 920-9000 to schedule your free consultation.