A car accident can result from cargo or other items falling from another vehicle, particularly commercial trucks, causing property damage/ loss or personal injury. It’s imperative to know who is responsible when such accidents occur. Personal property damage or physical injuries in falling cargo claims are dependent on many factors but the speed is typically arguably a major factor.
Establishing liability in falling cargo claims is typically complex and that’s why most people hire a car accident lawyer in Alaska because there are many factors to sift through, such as insurance coverage, negligence of the driver or their employer, vehicle defects, safety measures applied by the company, and more. The accident might have been caused by negligence or something else–meaning many people may be responsible, and establishing fault may require an attorney.
How Falling Objects Cause Road/ Car Accidents
Hefty or large commercial trucks at high speeds often shake and can even swerve, throwing out loose cargo that could injure pedestrians and motorists. Falling cargo can also be the cause of an accident between two other cars besides the faulting vehicle (truck).
Small items slipping from a vehicle might cause slight injuries. However, multiple and heavy items falling from a moving truck can result in serious property damage, severe injuries, and death–in extreme cases. Falling cargo accidents can be prevented if a trucking company can take the initiative of being proactive and following safety guidelines when loading cargo.
Safety Tips During Cargo Loading to Prevent Falling Cargo Accidents
Loading docks are typically busy and involve high movement of people and heavy machinery (big rigs) exposing cargo loading to hidden dangers. Consequently, everyone involved in cargo loading, including dock workers, forklift operators, truckers, and warehouse employees, should prioritize safety to mitigate the risk of falling cargo accidents. The tips for avoiding falling cargo include:
1. Truck Stability
Trucks should not be in motion during cargo loading-they should be stopped and the parking brakes applied. The vehicle’s restraint systems, such as the wheel choking system can help prevent truck or trailer creep and taking off before the loading process is thoroughly done.
2. Using Safety Equipment
Dock levelers are used to close the height differences between loading docks and trucks during loading. The height of a truck can change–decrease, during loading thanks to increased weight as more cargo is loaded–this is where dock levers come in. Dock levers do not only help adjust the fluctuating height of a truck during loading but also during unloading. Other safety cargo loading equipment include mirrors, conveyor belts, and bumpers.
Along with dock levelers, using other safety equipment — like conveyor belts, bumpers, and well-placed mirrors — can also help cut down the risk of loading dock accidents and injuries.
3. Follow Loading Protocols
Loaders should learn and follow the recommended rules of cargo loading to ensure the vehicle is properly loaded and the risk of falling cargo is eliminated
4. Covering the Load
The load should be covered, particularly if the cargo is made up of loose particles. For instance, a truck transporting ballast should be covered to prevent it from flying off the truck.
Liability in Car Accidents Involving Falling Cargo
Various factors come into play in falling cargo-related car accidents. However, the plaintiff(s) must prove the negligence of the defendant (trucker or trucking company). Negligence in personal injury claims is proved by stating the following:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care;
- The defendant failed to exercise the duty of care–negligence;
- The negligent actions of commission or omission caused bodily injuries or/and property damage.
Trucking companies and truckers are obligated to ensure cargo is properly secured before transportation. The perpetrators of falling cargo accidents are considered criminal offenders by the transport law. Victims of such accidents are eligible to recover damages from either the trucker, trucking company, or both–it depends on who is to blame for negligence.
State entities responsible for maintaining or repairing the road can also be held responsible. For instance, a road maintenance authority will be liable if a trucking company or trucker followed the necessary loading guideline but the poor state of the road was to blame for a falling cargo accident. It should be noted that victim(s) of a falling cargo accident can jointly or severally sue the involved parties.
Pursuing Justice for Car accidents involving Falling Cargo
A thorough investigation is often necessary for car accidents involving falling cargo from a truck. Litigating such accidents is complex as aforementioned and that’s why it’s important to hire a car accident attorney to evaluate your case and recommend an appropriate legal solution. Most lawyers offer a free initial legal consultation and they work on a “pay after work” basis–meaning you won’t have to worry about legal fees until the case is completed.
Car accidents resulting from cargo falling off trucks are common in the U.S but can be avoided if all stakeholders–trucking companies, truckers, and road maintenance authorities play their part as expected.