Large vehicles, including tractor-trailers, big rigs, and 18-wheelers, routinely travel on interstate highways and other roadways. These vehicles frequently carry large loads, which truck drivers and trucking companies must properly secure to trailers.
When loose cargo falls off a trailer, an oncoming vehicle may strike it, causing a severe accident that leads to injuries and fatalities. In some instances, the fallen cargo might even impale the windshield of an oncoming vehicle, causing an immediate fatality.
If you suffered injuries in a falling cargo accident that resulted from a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence, you have legal options available. In addition to seeking prompt medical treatment after your truck accident, you should talk with a knowledgeable truck accident attorney in your area. Your lawyer can explain your legal options in clear and easy-to-understand terms and help you decide on the best course of action to pursue in your personal injury case.
Moreover, your attorney can help you file a claim against the truck driver or trucking company’s insurer and pursue a favorable settlement on your behalf. If the insurance company does not compensate you appropriately, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and litigate it through court to a jury trial or binding arbitration hearing.
Unlike lawyers representing large trucking companies and insurers, a personal injury attorney will advocate only for you and your legal interests. Therefore, your truck accident lawyer can help you maximize the damages you recover and ensure that you become whole again to the greatest extent possible after your truck accident.
Potentially Responsible Parties in Falling Cargo Cases
Several individuals and entities may be responsible for injuries and damages that result from falling cargo accidents. First, truck drivers and the trucking companies that employ them have a legal duty to secure cargo to a tractor-trailer properly. Moreover, they must use the proper fasteners, ensuring that the cargo does not slide off while the tractor-trailer is in motion.
Truck drivers and trucking companies also have a duty to follow all applicable federal and state motor carrier regulations regarding weight limits and securing cargo to trailers. Drivers must also make a pre-trip inspection before venturing out on the road. Specifically, they must ensure that they have properly loaded their cargo onto the trailer. When truck drivers and trucking companies fail to take these steps, they increase their chances of a falling cargo accident.
Finally, trucking companies have a duty to properly monitor and supervise their drivers at all times, ensuring that they comply with all applicable regulations and engage in safe driving practices.
If you suffered injuries in a truck crash, you as the accident victim have the sole legal burden of proof. Therefore, you must demonstrate that the truck driver or trucking company acted unreasonably under the circumstances. This typically means that the driver or company did something they should not have done or they failed to do something they should have done.
When it comes time to prove that the trucking company or truck driver did something wrong, your lawyer may need to retain an expert accident reconstructionist who can review the police report, speak with eyewitnesses to the accident, visit the accident scene, and piece together exactly how the crash happened.
In addition to proving fault on the part of a truck driver or trucking company, an accident victim must also demonstrate that they suffered injuries in their accident and that their injuries directly resulted from the accident.
A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area can meet with you to discuss your accident and how it occurred. Your lawyer can also help you identify potentially responsible parties for your truck accident and, if necessary, file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against those responsible persons or entities. Your lawyer can then help you pursue your claim or lawsuit to an efficient resolution.
Deadline to File a Lawsuit Arising from a Falling Cargo Accident
Truck accident victims only have four years from their accident date to file a lawsuit that seeks damages. If an accident victim files their lawsuit belatedly, they will not be eligible to recover monetary damages for their injuries. Therefore, if you suffered injuries in your truck accident, it is vital that you retain experienced legal representation right away.
If the statute of limitations time period is running out in your case, your lawyer can immediately file the necessary lawsuit on your behalf and work to pursue the compensation you deserve. Your lawyer can then continue litigating the case in court and assist you throughout the process.
Common Injuries in Falling Cargo Accidents
When cargo falls off the back of a tractor-trailer and into the road, severe accidents and injuries may result. An oncoming driver traveling at a high rate of speed may collide with the cargo, causing their vehicle to overturn, spin around, and sustain severe damage. At other times, a driver may need to swerve out of the way to avoid hitting the cargo.
In the process, the driver may cause their vehicle to strike another vehicle or a stationary object located near the road. Finally, the cargo may go through the front windshield of an oncoming vehicle, causing immediate injuries or fatalities.
A falling cargo impact may also cause a driver or passenger’s body to move abruptly forward and backward in the vehicle or from side to side. They may also strike something in their vehicle, like the console, dashboard, headrest, steering wheel, window, or door frame, causing severe injuries.
Some of the most common injuries that falling cargo accident victims suffer include shoulder injuries, internal organ damage, soft tissue injuries, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and traumatic head and brain injuries.
As soon as possible after a falling cargo accident, you should seek prompt medical treatment at a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility. Even if you are unsure about the extent of your injuries, you should still undergo emergency treatment. This is because untreated injuries may become significantly worse over time.
Moreover, symptoms of some injuries, including soft tissue contusions and traumatic head injuries, do not always appear right away. It may take days or weeks for these injuries to become symptomatic.
When you go to the ER after your accident, the responding physician can order the necessary imaging studies, including X-rays and MRIs, to accurately diagnose and treat you. Moreover, if you need follow-up treatment, the ER doctor can make the appropriate recommendations. For instance, you may need to follow up with a specialist, like a neurologist or orthopedic doctor, or you may need to seek treatment from your primary care doctor if your symptoms worsen.
While you focus on recovering from your injuries, your truck accident attorney can begin working for you. Your lawyer can gather copies of the police report, eyewitness reports, photographs of the accident scene, injury photographs, lost wage documents, medical records, and medical bills.
Once your lawyer receives these documents, they can put together a demand package and submit it to the insurance company once you complete your treatment. If the insurance company then accepts fault for your accident, settlement negotiations may begin, and your lawyer can start advocating for you.
Recover Potential Damages in Falling Cargo Accident Cases
Every truck accident case is different, and the damages that accident victims recover vary from case to case. Types and amounts of damages that truck accident victims receive typically depend upon the impact force, the extent of their injuries and medical treatment, and whether they sustained permanent injuries in their accidents. A permanent injury is unlikely to become better over time.
To demonstrate that a particular injury is permanent, a medical provider must state in a report, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, that the injury is permanent.
Compensable damages in falling cargo accident cases include compensation for:
- Related out-of-pocket costs that the accident victim incurred
- Related medical expenses for the accident victim’s medical treatment, surgical procedures, hospital visits, physical therapy, and other care available even if health insurance paid for some or all of the accident victim’s treatment
- Lost wages if the accident victim had to miss work time to recover from their injuries or seek medical treatment.
In addition to these out-of-pocket costs and other economic damages, accident victims may recover non-economic compensation to cover their non-tangible losses, including:
- Their mental distress and emotional anguish especially if they suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after their accident, which a qualified psychiatrist or psychologist diagnosed.
- The inconvenience they endured from having to attend medical appointments and the general interruption to their life resulting from their accident-related injuries
- Past physical pain and suffering, compensating accident victims for symptoms they endured between their accident date and the present time.
- Anticipated physical pain and suffering, compensating accident victims who suffered a permanent injury for the anticipated symptoms they will likely experience in the future.
- Loss of use of a particular body part, such as when the accident victim suffers permanent spinal cord damage or a full or partial paralysis injury
- Loss of life enjoyment, when the accident victim’s quality of life and ability to spend time with family members and friends declines due to the injuries they suffered in their truck accident
- Permanent disfigurement if they suffered a disfiguring injury.
- Permanent scarring if the accident victim’s injury-related scars cause them to experience humiliation, shame, or embarrassment.
- Loss of spousal consortium and companionship if they are married at the time of their accident and they suffered physical injuries which prevent or limit spousal intimacy.
A knowledgeable truck accident attorney in your Florida area can discuss your injuries and medical treatment with you and determine which of these damages you are eligible to recover in your personal injury claim or lawsuit. Your lawyer can then zealously advocate for your legal interests by highlighting the strengths of your case while downplaying any weaknesses.
Filing a Truck Accident Claim or Lawsuit Arising from a Falling Cargo Accident
When a truck accident victim suffers injuries due to loose or falling cargo, they may be eligible to recover damages from the truck driver’s insurer. The first step to recovering this compensation is for the accident victim’s lawyer to file a claim with the insurance company.
The claims-filing process typically consists of:
- Submitting a settlement demand package to the insurance company adjuster, which includes copies of the police report, eyewitness statements, medical treatment records, medical bills, lost wage statements, injury photographs, photographs of the truck accident scene, and a victim impact statement.
- Convincing the truck driver or trucking company’s insurer to accept fault for the accident
- Negotiating a favorable settlement offer with the insurance company adjuster
If the parties reach an impasse, the accident victim’s truck accident lawyer can threaten the adjuster with court litigation and, if necessary, file a lawsuit against both the at-fault truck driver along with the responsible trucking company in the court system. During litigation, the parties may continue their settlement negotiations.
However, if the case does not resolve, they may need to take it to a civil jury trial where the jury will decide all disputed issues. At other times, the parties may consider alternative dispute resolution proceedings, like mediation or binding arbitration, as a means of resolving their dispute.
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in your Florida area can help you decide on the best course of action for your personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Call a Skilled Truck Accident Attorney Today
If you sustained injuries in a recent falling cargo accident, one of your first calls should be to a knowledgeable truck accident attorney in your area. In addition to investigating the circumstances of your accident, your lawyer can explain the legal steps for moving forward and help you pursue the damages you deserve.
If the truck driver or trucking company’s insurer refuses to compensate you fairly for your injuries, your personal injury lawyer in Florida can litigate your case to an efficient conclusion in the court system and represent you in all legal proceedings.