Properly securing all cargo on commercial trucks is necessary to prevent hazardous debris from falling onto the roadways. Federal regulations mandate that truck drivers and companies adhere to specific cargo securement standards to ensure the safety of other motorists.
These rules include using proper restraints, such as straps, chains, and nets and techniques like blocking and bracing to minimize the risk of cargo shifting or becoming dislodged during transit.
If a semi-truck driver, trucking company, or cargo loader fails to secure the truck’s load and you are injured due to falling debris, you can seek compensation for your injuries. Our Michigan truck accident lawyers at Fieger Law will help you file a claim with the at-fault party and negotiate a fair settlement for your injuries.
What is a Debris or Falling Cargo-Based Accident?
A debris or cargo accident involving a commercial truck refers to incidents where transported items or materials fall onto the road or nearby areas. This can happen when cargo is improperly secured or the truck needs to make a sudden maneuver.
- Stationary Debris
Stationary debris is objects or materials that have fallen off a truck and remain on the road or roadside. Examples of stationary debris include fallen lumber, spilled liquids, appliances, or furniture. Stationary debris can cause tire blowouts, vehicle damage, or cause secondary accidents as drivers swerve to avoid the debris.
- Flying Debris
Moving or flying debris are items that become airborne after falling from a commercial truck. For instance, loose construction materials, such as bricks or gravel, may fly off a dump truck and scatter onto the road behind it. Damage caused by moving or flying debris can be extensive, ranging from shattered windshields and vehicle dents to injuries to nearby vehicle occupants. It can also cause accidents if drivers’ vision becomes obscured due to the debris in the air.
If you are injured in a debris or loose cargo incident with a large truck, contact a Michigan truck crash attorney from Fieger Law to help with your case. Our attorneys can help you understand your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.
Who is At Fault When a Debris Accident Occurs?
In Michigan, determining fault in a debris-related crash depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the incident. Liability or fault may be attributed to different parties involved, including the truck driver, the trucking company, or other entities responsible for cargo loading or road maintenance.
Factors to consider include:
- Negligence: To establish fault, it is crucial to demonstrate that a party was negligent, meaning they failed to exercise reasonable care in preventing the debris accident. Negligence can include improperly securing cargo, overloading the truck, or inadequate vehicle maintenance.
- Proving causation: Establishing a causal link between the responsible party’s negligence and the debris accident is necessary. This may involve gathering evidence such as witness statements, photographs, video footage, or expert analysis to demonstrate that the debris originated from the truck or was a direct result of its operations.
- Comparative fault: Michigan follows the comparative fault principle, which means that responsibility can be allocated among multiple parties based on their respective degrees of negligence. Even if the truck driver or the trucking company is found partially at fault, other involved parties, such as the drivers of other vehicles involved in the accident, may also share a portion of the blame (for example, a driver may be considered partially at fault for their own accident if they had space and time to safely avoid the debris, and didn’t do so).
- Road maintenance: In some cases, liability may be attributed to governmental entities responsible for road maintenance. If a debris accident is caused by road debris that was not promptly removed or due to poor road conditions, the governmental agency tasked with road maintenance could be liable.
How to Drive Safely if You Encounter Debris on the Road
Encountering debris on the road while driving can be unexpected and potentially hazardous. Knowing how to react and drive safely in dangerous situations is essential to minimize your risk of accidents.
- Stay calm and alert: Keep your focus on the road ahead.
- Do not make sudden maneuvers: Refrain from abrupt braking or swerving to avoid debris, as it may lead to loss of control or collisions with other vehicles.
- Signal and communicate: If you need to change lanes to maneuver around the debris, use your turn signals to indicate your intentions to other drivers, and carefully check your mirrors and blind spots first.
- Report the debris: In most cases, the best thing to do is call 911 and provide the mile marker where the debris is located. The dispatch there can notify the proper authorities to safely remove the debris, helping prevent other potential accidents.
Get Legal Help if There is an Accident
Accidents caused by debris on the road can lead to severe and life-altering injuries. Driving defensively and being prepared can help mitigate the risks associated with encountering debris and promote safer roadways for everyone.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a debris-related auto accident, consult with professionals who can navigate the legal process across the U.S. and help you pursue financial compensation. Contact Fieger Law for a free consultation and learn how to protect your rights.