You Don't Pay
Unless You Win
cargo truck crashed on side of highway

Liability When an Object Falls Off of a Commercial Truck

The Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC March 13, 2024

Commercial trucks are a common sight on highways and play a crucial role in the transportation of goods and materials across large distances. These vehicles encompass a wide range of categories, including semi-trucks, tankers, flatbeds, and more. Their classification is primarily based on weight, and different regulations and safety requirements apply to each class. 

However, their towering presence brings inherent dangers, including the risk of shifting or unsecured cargo. When objects fall off a commercial truck, the consequences can be severe, leading to car accidents that can jeopardize the safety of all road users. Whether it's due to improper loading, failure to secure cargo adequately, or the degradation of securing materials during transit, these incidents can range from minor property damage to catastrophic injuries or even fatalities. 

Such incidents can raise complex questions about liability. At the heart of these legal questions, understanding liability in the potential aftermath of cargo-related mishaps is crucial. At The Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC, we work with clients involved in commercial truck accidents to help determine liability and obtain the fair compensation they deserve.  

Causes of Objects Falling Off Commercial Trucks 

Several factors can contribute to objects falling off commercial trucks. Here are a few common scenarios:

  • Overloaded or improperly loaded cargo: When a vehicle is carrying more weight than it's designed to handle, the risk of objects falling off increases. Similarly, if the cargo is not properly arranged or secured, it can shift during transit, leading to spills and accidents. 

  • Poorly maintained vehicles: Commercial trucks operate for extended periods, often carrying heavy loads over long distances. If these vehicles are not well-maintained, parts may fail, causing objects to fall off. 

  • Road hazards: Uneven or damaged roads, potholes, and steep inclines can cause cargo to shift during transit. In these cases, the trucking company may not be liable if they can prove that they took reasonable precautions. 

  • Human error: From driver negligence to mistakes made during loading and securing the cargo, human error can also contribute to objects falling off commercial trucks. 

Companies operating commercial trucks carry the weighty responsibility of ensuring their cargo is secured properly for the duration of the journey. From using appropriate restraints like straps and nets to conducting regular safety checks, these measures are non-negotiable. If cargo does fall off the truck during transit, companies can be held liable for the ensuing damages. 

Liability Law and Commercial Trucks 

Given their size and cargo, commercial trucks are subject to stringent regulations. These regulations aim to minimize the risks associated with the transportation of goods, emphasizing the safety of the individuals involved. 

The liability law concerning commercial trucks is designed to ensure that anyone operating these vehicles adheres to a high standard of care. Owners and operators of commercial trucks must comply with federal and state guidelines, including obtaining the proper licenses, undergoing regular vehicle inspections, and adhering to weight and load restrictions. Failure to meet these requirements may lead to significant legal repercussions in the event of an accident. 

For example, if an investigation into a trucking accident reveals that the vehicle was overloaded or not properly inspected, the trucking company can be held liable for negligence. In Georgia, liability law follows a modified comparative negligence rule, meaning that if you are found to be less than 50% responsible for your injury, they may still recover damages less your percentage of fault. 

Determining liability requires a detailed investigation into each accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can help protect your rights and help you file a claim if you are harmed in a commercial trucking incident. 

How to File a Claim

If you are in an accident from cargo falling from a commercial truck, there are certain steps you should follow:

  1. Prioritize Your Safety: Immediately move to a secure location away from the road to avoid further accidents or injuries. 

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Even if there are no visible injuries, get a medical evaluation as soon as possible as some injuries might not be immediately evident. 

  1. Document the Incident: Take clear photos of the scene, including the fallen cargo, damages to your vehicle, and any visible injuries. Note down the truck's license plate, company name, and any identification numbers. Collect contact information from any witnesses and the truck driver, if possible.  

  1. File a Police Report: Make sure the incident is officially recorded. A police report serves as an important piece of evidence for your claim. 

  1. Notify Your Insurance Company: Report the incident to your insurance provider. Provide them with all the collected information but be cautious in your interactions as insurance companies might look for ways to minimize payouts. 

  1. Consult With a Personal Injury Attorney: Consider hiring an attorney, such as Walter Gabriel, who specializes in personal injury or road accident cases. They can offer valuable advice, deal with insurance companies, and, if necessary, take legal action on your behalf. 

The Importance of Liability Insurance 

All drivers are required to carry liability insurance, a financial safety net designed to protect victims of commercial trucking accidents. Liability insurance can cover various damages, including medical expenses, vehicle damage, and pain and suffering. This type of insurance also helps determine liability after an accident involving falling cargo from a commercial truck. 

In Georgia, divers are required to have a minimum bodily injury liability insurance of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident, as well as a minimum property damage liability insurance of $25,000 per incident.

Uninsured motorist coverage can also serve as a backup plan. This insurance can step in if the at-fault party's insurance falls short. While uninsured motorist coverage is not mandatory, it is highly recommended as it complements your standard insurance coverage by offering additional protection. 

Attorney Walter Gabriel Can Help 

If you are in an accident caused by falling cargo from a commercial truck, the expertise of a well-versed attorney can be a considerable advantage. Attorney Walter Gabriel can guide you through the necessary paperwork and deadlines, negotiate with insurance companies, and, if necessary, represent you in court. 

You don't have to face this alone. The Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC is ready to stand up for your rights and secure the compensation you deserve. Reach out today and take the first step toward recovery with a team that's as invested in your case as you.