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Sharing the road with commercial vehicles can sometimes be scary. Commercial trucks include a wide range of vehicles, like car transport trailers, 18-wheeler shipping trucks, farm tractors, garbage trucks, tanker trucks carrying liquids, and many more. What they all have in common is that they are very large compared to the average car, and they carry tremendously heavy loads.
Commercial trucks pose extra hazards on the road because of their size and the potential for the loads they carry to become unsecured. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that in a year, about 25,000 traffic accidents were caused by unsecured loads from commercial trucks, and that these accidents caused almost 100 fatalities. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that each year there are more than 50,000 accidents involving motorists running into roadway debris or other vehicles while avoiding objects, causing around 10,000 personal injuries.
Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard of care than other drivers because of the additional danger posed by commercial trucks. Under various federal and state regulations, truck drivers are required to undergo specialized driver training and drug testing, as well as limit their driving hours to minimize the risk of accidents. Part of the training includes learning how to securely tie down loads and to periodically check that the loads remain secured properly. Trucking companies are also required to take special precautions. They need to oversee their drivers to make sure they are trained, safely secure their loads, and assure the trucks on the road are in good working order.
If a truck’s load falls from the truck and hits another vehicle, then the truck driver will most likely be found negligent for not safely securing the load. Even if the unsecured load does not immediately hit another vehicle, if the debris left in the road causes an accident, then the truck driver will likely be held responsible. However, in this case, there must be some way to prove that the debris came from the truck.
Another situation where a truck driver may be found negligent occurs when a truck drives kicks up rocks that hit another vehicle. Courts may differ in how they treat this situation. While one court may find the truck driver negligent for not noticing and avoiding the rocks, another court may not. However, if this happens while the truck was driving too fast, then most courts will find the truck driver negligent.
Establishing a case of liability requires proof of negligence. If you are in an accident and capable of doing so, try to obtain the truck’s license plate number. If the debris came off the truck, see if you can locate witnesses to verify that the debris came from the truck.
If you have been in an accident involving truck load debris, the damage might have been caused by negligent practices of the truck driver and trucking company. Contact one of our knowledgeable South Jersey car accident lawyers at Folkman Law at 856-354-9444 or submit an online form. We can help you determine your next steps. Our offices are in Cherry Hill, New Jersey as well as Philadelphia, and we serve clients from the surrounding areas.