The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there are over 300,000 truck accidents annually. Roughly 73 percent of fatalities caused in truck accidents are the occupants of the passenger vehicle, 10 percent are non-occupants such as cyclists and pedestrians, and 18 percent are the occupants of the truck. Not all truck accidents that are the fault of the truck are caused by aggressive or inattentive driving. While the great difference in size, as well as speed, certainly presents a very large threat to the much smaller passenger vehicle traffic that attempts to negotiate past large trucks, one other area of danger is loose or improperly secured cargo.
Falling Objects and Loose Cargo
Cargo and objects, in particular on flatbed trucks, that are not properly secured may fall off and strike traffic behind, or traffic may swerve to avoid hitting fallen objects and in doing so, crash. Spillage of hazardous chemicals can also cause accidents and environmental hazards if they are breathed in or a driver or pedestrian comes in contact with them. However, falling objects or spillage of caustic chemicals is not the only way that cargo poses a threat. When a truck is loaded with cargo, the weight must be distributed evenly and the truck cannot be overloaded. Overloaded or top-heavy trucks are at more risk of rolling over when navigating highway curves and even turns at intersections. By placing the center of gravity up so high, side forces can pull a trailer over and cause catastrophic damage to multiple parties. Overloaded trucks cannot come to a stop as quickly, and also put more wear on brakes, especially in hilly or mountainous terrain.
Who Is Liable in Loose Cargo or Improperly Loaded Cargo-Caused Truck Collisions
Truck accidents are inherently more complicated than passenger vehicle collisions. For one, there are usually multiple parties affected in large truck collisions, which creates complications. Secondly, unlike passenger vehicle collisions, there may be more parties at fault, or ascribing liability to the negligent party may be more difficult. In terms of loose cargo, if the truck driver loaded the cargo themselves, they may be held liable, if they are an independant contractor. More likely, they are employed by a trucking or shipping company, in which case the shipping or trucking company would be held liable if the truck driver was responsible for loading the cargo. If the truck driver did not load the cargo and it was loaded by a third party such as a loading company, the loading company (or the company that shipped the product) may be held liable, which would be considered third party liability. Whatever the case may be, it is in your best interest to hire a competent attorney to help you in this sort of legal battle. If you were injured, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and property damage. To ensure you get the compensation that you truly deserve for the pain you have been put through, contact an experienced Columbia, South Carolina, car accident attorney today at the law offices of The Connell Law Firm, LLC.