Lexington Unsecured Truck Load Accidents Attorney
One of the many hazards drivers and pedestrians face is a vehicle that’s unsafely loaded, which could result in cargo falling off while the vehicle is traveling. The larger the object and the faster the vehicle is going, the greater the potential danger. Even a relatively small object, if travelling fast enough, can cause enough damage to distract you and create a hazardous situation.
How dangerous is it to drive behind a truck with an unsecured load? Watch this video and see. An object weighing twenty pounds, travelling 55 miles per hour, would hit your vehicle with a force of a thousand pounds. These dangerous objects can come from any vehicle, whether it’s a semi-truck traveling across the country, a contractor’s pickup truck or an improperly loaded SUV whose driver is returning from the nearest home improvement store.
In 2010, unsecured loads and road debris caused the deaths of 440 people and lead to injuring another 10,000 in more than 51,000 incidents, according to a 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). These accidents occur as a vehicle strikes an object as it’s falling from a vehicle in front of it or when it strikes an object in the roadway after it has fallen off.
Kentucky law and federal guidelines require vehicles to secure their loads. Rules by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration state cargo must be secured on or in a commercial vehicle under all conditions that could reasonably be expected to occur in normal driving, as well as when responding to emergency situations. This means freight must be properly distributed and secured. The vehicle’s structure and any equipment on the vehicle must also be properly secured.
The GAO report cites several instances of injuries due to unsecured loads:
- A woman was killed in West Virginia in 2011 when unsecured contents fell off a trailer being hauled by a non-commercial vehicle and went through her windshield.
- A pedestrian in Florida sustained a fractured skull and spinal injuries in 2012 after a mattress and metal frame fell off a non-commercial vehicle and struck him.
- A forty-pound piece of furniture unsecured on an open trailer fell off on a major highway in Washington, crashed through the windshield of the vehicle behind it and caused catastrophic injuries to the head and face of a passenger, including permanent blindness.
Whether you’re the driver or passenger in a vehicle or you’re a pedestrian who is injured by an item left unsecured on a vehicle, you may be able to pursue legal action to obtain compensation for those injuries. There are many possible factual and legal issues in these types of accidents, so if you try to resolve the matter with an insurance company or its lawyer, you may end up settling for far less than your case is actually worth. Your case may be far more factually and legally complex than you think. Some typical issues are:
- There may be a number of responsible parties for an accident, especially if a commercial vehicle is the cause. The shipper (the one loading the truck), the truck owner and the driver may all share responsibility, depending on the circumstances.
- If a non-commercial vehicle is involved, the owner, driver and those who loaded the vehicle could bear responsibility.
- In addition to the dangerous load, other contributing issues could be that the vehicle itself was not properly maintained or that the driver was fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- There may be a number of investigations as a result of the accident, including by the truck company, its insurance carrier, law enforcement and government transportation authorities.
- Depending on the number of parties, there may be several insurance companies involved.
Attorney Julie Butcher has represented many clients injured in truck accidents in the past 25+ years of her practice. She is one of a few attorneys in the state who belong to a professional association that is dedicated to helping the victims of truck accidents and to preventing future accidents — the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America.
Statutes of limitations apply in truck accident cases, and if too much time passes before a legal action is filed, evidence may be lost or destroyed and it may be more difficult to reach witnesses. If you or a family member have been injured because of an unsecured load on a truck, act now and contact our office so we can learn about your situation and you can learn about applicable laws and your best options to obtain compensation for your injuries.