What if My Car Gets Hit by Cargo That Fell From a Passing Vehicle?

pickup truck loaded with logsWhile many Sacramento car crashes are caused by the reckless maneuvers of other drivers, some are caused by loose cargo. When drivers fail to properly secure their furniture, appliances, tools and other objects onto their vehicles, it could create unexpected and dangerous obstacles on the roadway.

Arnold Law Firm’s experienced Sacramento car accident lawyers discuss liability for loose cargo car crashes, as well as collisions caused by commercial trucks with improperly secured cargo. Drivers have a legal obligation to properly secure cargo in or onto their vehicles, and if they fail to uphold this obligation, they could be found at fault for damages.

If you were injured in a falling cargo collision, we may be able to help you seek compensation.

No upfront costs. Free consultation. Proven results. Call today: (916) 777-7777.

Types of Cargo That Falls From Vehicles

Drivers load all types of cargo onto their vehicles. Whether bringing home a new appliance or moving from one place to another, you are likely to see many different types of improperly stored cargo on the road, such as

  • Construction materials (wood, cement blocks, rebar, building materials, etc.)
  • Tools
  • Furniture
  • Bicycles
  • Home appliances (washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, etc.)
  • Luggage
  • Televisions
  • Painting supplies, especially if they are in the back of a pickup truck
  • Mattresses
  • Loose gravel or rocks that fall from a large pickup truck
  • Plants

The Dangers of Loose Cargo on the Road

You might think loose cargo is only dangerous if it is large or if it falls off a vehicle that was traveling at high speed. However, even a small object falling off a vehicle driving at a slow speed could be dangerous.

While there are many different types of loose cargo crashes, they can be divided into two main categories: overloaded vehicle crashes and unsecured cargo crashes.

Sometimes drivers try to carry much more cargo than they can safely secure. Overloading a vehicle in this way significantly increases the risk of something falling onto the road once the vehicle is in motion.

Crashes may also occur because a driver did not use enough tie downs when security cargo to the vehicle. Even if tie downs were used, some drivers may try to load smaller items aroundthe cargo in a further attempt to keep bigger objects from moving.

One factor drivers may fail to consider when loading their cars is that they will not be able to maintain a consistent speed. You never know when you might need to slam on the brakes because of something unexpected on the road, such as a negligent driver.

Loading too much cargo onto your vehicle can also make it harder to operate. If you lose control of your vehicle, it could cause you to crash into another vehicle in a neighboring lane. The impact of swerving or crashing could cause objects to fall off of your vehicle and onto the road, creating yet another crash risk for other drivers sharing the road.

How Loose Cargo Causes Crashes

Sometimes drivers can avoid road debris by swerving out of the way. However, depending on road and weather conditions at the time, you could lose control of your vehicle and swerve into another vehicle or slide off the road into a fixed object.

Running into large debris is especially dangerous because it could slow your vehicle and cause another driver to hit your bumper. The debris could also bounce up onto your hood and into your windshield. Small, heavy objects, like tools, could shatter your windshield and hit you, causing serious, potentially fatal injuries.

Sharp objects that fell into the road could pierce one of your tires, causing a blowout. Tire blowouts make it hard to control your vehicle. You could spin out or veer into the lane next to yours, right in the path of oncoming traffic.

The Added Danger of Cargo Falling From a Commercial Truck

There is a risk of cargo falling from the trailer of a commercial truck. Despite the size and weight of the cargo these vehicles often transport (metal coils, paper rolls, lumber, concrete pipes, etc.), drivers and cargo-loading companies do not always do a good enough job to properly secure it. Some trucks are carrying hazardous materials that can cause injury simply by being exposed to the open air.

Federal regulations mandate the use of tie downs, webbing and straps to secure cargo before it is transported. There are also specific regulations on certain types of cargo. For instance, there are requirements on the proper way to immobilize cargo so it does not move around inside of the trailer. There are also weight limits meant to prevent trucking companies form overloading trailers.

According to California’s Commercial Driver handbook, there must be one tie-down for every 10 feet of cargo. If cargo is on a flatbed trailer without sides, it must be properly secured to prevent it from shifting around. Securement devices meant to stop cargo from moving must be at least one-half of the weight of the cargo.

Professional truck drivers need training on how to properly secure cargo, but sometimes trucking companies do not provide adequate instruction.

Drivers face intense pressure to meet deadlines, which is why they may cut corners to get out on the road more quickly and deliver cargo on time.

The heavier size and weight of commercial truck cargo increases the likelihood of victims suffering catastrophic injuries if a crash results. The greater the weight, the more force the cargo will hit with in a collision.

Who Can Be Held Liable for a Loose Cargo Crash?

If you were injured in a loose cargo crash, the driver could be held liable. Securing cargo is not just a reasonable step, it is the law in California. Drivers must properly secure cargo when traveling on any publicly maintained road. The police can issue a $200 ticket for an unsecured load, even if nothing falls off your vehicle.

Unfortunately, it is up to injured victims to prove an object fell from the other driver’s vehicle because his or her cargo was not properly secured. If the other driver was cited, evidence of his or her $200 ticket would help, as would pictures of the cargo and the vehicle. Your lawyer may be able to obtain other evidence, such as documentation of the driver purchasing the cargo at a retail store.

The experienced lawyers at Arnold Law Firm know how to obtain relevant evidence for a loose cargo crash. If you were involved in this type of traffic accident, call us right away to learn how we may be able to assist you.

While drivers are often held liable for falling cargo crashes, there are other parties who may bear some responsibility:

  • Cargo-loading companies
  • Owners of the cargo, like construction companies
  • Trucking companies
  • Manufacturers of cargo restraints

Can Victims of Falling Cargo Crashes Be Partially Liable?

The at-fault driver or other liable parties may try to argue that you could have avoided the crash. They may say you had ample time to slow down, stop or change lanes.

This argument may initially sound reasonable. However, people often make these kinds of statements when trying to avoid financial responsibility for their negligence. Moreover, you should not rely on the at-fault driver’s interpretation of what happened.

Even if you are partially at fault, California still allows you to seek compensation. If you are concerned you may be partially to blame, call Arnold Law Firm to determine your legal options.

Drivers are expected to pay attention to the road, but they should not be expected to dodge falling objects that should not have been on the road to begin with. If you were paying attention and did your best to avoid crashing into or being hit by an object, but a collision happened anyway, it is unlikely you are partially to blame.

Call Arnold Law Firm To Discuss Your Crash

Have you been injured by another driver’s negligence?

Call Arnold Law Firm to discuss your situation, including whether you may be able to seek compensation to pay for your medical care, lost wages and other damages. There are no upfront costs with our services and our firm has a proven track record, having recovered millions for accident victims.

Give us a call today to learn more: (916) 777-7777.