Truck drivers may fail to secure cargo before entering the roadway, exposing other vehicles to hazards. When unsecured cargo falls off the truck, it can cause severe damage to you and your vehicle.
In 2019, fallen cargo only accounted for 0.2% of fatal truck accidents. However, if you suffer injuries or vehicle damage from flying debris, you may recover compensation for your losses. Our Syracuse car accident lawyers can determine who is at fault for a collision caused by road debris and advise you on your best legal options.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, large, loaded trucks require up to 40% more space to stop safely than passenger cars. It may be difficult for truckers to maintain control of their vehicles when hauling an uneven load. Trucks may also flip over if they brake suddenly while hauling a heavy load.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety investigated the effects road debris can have on accidents, including those caused by poorly secured or uncontrolled cargo. When cargo falls from a truck onto the road, passing vehicles may not have enough time to react safely to avoid colliding with fallen objects.
If a car follows a truck and drives into the path of falling debris, the windshield can shatter, and the vehicle may slide. As a result, the driver might crash into a neighboring vehicle, object, or person to avoid the hazard.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversees cargo loading regulations for commercial trucks. These regulations include a minimum number of tie-downs to secure the load, ensuring the cargo can sustain acceleration, braking, and turning forces. They also make sure the cargo does not roll or move during transportation to prevent accidents.
In addition to federal trucking regulations, New York State requires that trucks, pickup trucks, and trailers with loosened cargo be covered with a cover, tarp, or another device that meets the Department of Transportation’s specifications.
To ensure the safety of moving freight, truck drivers and their trucking companies must inspect cargo before and during transportation. Each driver must examine the cargo and securement equipment in their truck and modify them if needed within 50 miles of the trip’s origin. All drivers must inspect the cargo every 150 miles or every 3 hours.
Failure to follow the federal requirements for cargo protection includes:
- Insufficient securement devices for cargo size and weight
- Unauthorized use of securement devices
- Using worn-out, damaged, or broken securement devices
- Improper loading or balance of cargo
- Overloading of cargo on a truck beyond the weight requirements
The FMCSA’s safety officers enforce cargo loading requirements at checkpoints and weigh stations around the nation. Insecure loads can result in a fine of up to $5,000. However, drivers subject to strict delivery deadlines typically forgo these stops to avoid having their cargo weighed or inspected.
The FMCSA states that loading, distributing, and securing cargo is the responsibility of both the trucking company and the trucker. Drivers must secure cargo in or on a truck within reasonable circumstances that are expected while driving and in emergencies, but not in the event of a crash.
For non-commercial vehicles, such as pick-up trucks, it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure their loads are fully secured. Any cargo or flying debris that falls off their pick-up truck and damages a vehicle makes them liable.
Federal regulations are created to prevent cargo from moving during transportation and flying off the truck. New York State law does not require covering if the driver structures the load so no loose material falls off or flies out of a truck.
If fallen cargo from a truck strikes you and your vehicle, get the truck’s license plate number, if possible. You can work with one of our attorneys to put together your claim. Truck accidents can become complex because of federal and state trucking laws and multiple liable parties, including the trucking company and its insurance company.
Whether you or someone you know has been injured in a truck accident involving fallen cargo in Syracuse, the New York car accident lawyers at Catalano Law can help. If negligent parties fail to adhere to the federal loading requirements, we can hold them liable. You can reach out to schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers today.