Falling Cargo Accidents
Large commercial trucks, including 18-wheelers, big rigs, and tractor-trailers, are on the roadways in the St. Louis area. Roads that carry large trucks include Interstates 44, 55, 64, 270, and 70. U.S. Highways 40, 61, 50, and 67 also have their fair share of heavy tractor-trailer traffic in the region.
Furthermore, serious truck accidents are one of the most common causes of Injuries both nationally and throughout Missouri. According to Missouri State Highway Patrol statistics, a few years ago, a total of 2,060 personal injury crashes involved trucks. Of these crashes, 3,185 people suffered injuries, while 109 suffered fatalities. Likewise, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says the number of individuals suffering fatal injuries in car crashes has increased by 12 percent over the past decade.
When truck drivers and trucking companies do not adequately secure cargo to the back of their trailers, the payload can roll out into the road and bring about a serious motor vehicle collision. The oncoming driver might not stop their vehicle in time to avoid striking the fallen cargo. Federal and state motor carrier regulations provide guidelines for properly securing cargo to a trailer. When truck drivers and trucking companies fail to follow these guidelines, serious accidents can happen.
Even pick-up truck drivers might fail to secure cargo in the bed of their truck, causing it to fall out into the middle of the roadway.
If you or a person you care about has suffered an injury in a truck accident, you must speak with legal counsel before filing a claim. Attempting to negotiate with the truck driver’s insurance company on your own can be a serious mistake. The insurance company will assume that they should not take your case seriously and offer you reasonable compensation because you are unrepresented.
On the other hand, having a lawyer by your side can be extremely beneficial. Your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and can pursue a favorable settlement offer that truly compensates you for all the injuries and damages that you suffered in your truck accident.
What Can Happen When Trailer Cargo is Loose?
When it comes to large trucks and tractor-trailers, state and federal motor carrier regulations provide guidelines for large truck operation. For example, these guidelines regulate over carriage and undercarriage lighting on trucks and trailers, prescribe load limits for these vehicles, and regulate how truck drivers and trucking companies must secure their cargo to a trailer bed. To secure cargo properly, the truck driver or other trucking company employee must use the proper fasteners and ensure that the fasteners are tight, preventing the load from rolling off the trailer when the vehicle is in motion.
In addition, truck drivers must not overload cargo onto trailers or load the cargo in such a way that the trailer becomes unbalanced. Unbalanced cargo on a trailer can offset the truck’s center of gravity and might result in an overturn. Alternatively, the cargo can roll off the trailer and into the roadway, especially when the vehicle travels at a high rate of speed.
Suppose you have suffered injuries in a motor vehicle collision that occurred because a truck driver or trucking company did not properly secure cargo. In that case, you may have a right to legal compensation. A truck accident attorney in St. Louis, Missouri, can determine if you are eligible to file a claim against the truck driver or trucking company’s insurer. If you are, your attorney can assist you with every aspect of that claim and vigorously negotiate with the insurance company adjuster on your behalf.
Responsible Parties in Cargo-related Truck Accidents
Truck drivers, trucking companies, and others are responsible for making sure that they properly secure cargo to a truck or trailer. Specifically, they must act with reasonable care when they are undertaking this task. If they act unreasonably under the circumstances, such as by failing to use the proper fasteners to secure the cargo—and an accident happens—then the accident victim can pursue damages from the insurance company.
In most instances, truck drivers and the trucking companies who employ them utilize the same insurance company and coverage. Therefore, if you file a personal injury claim after suffering injuries in a truck accident, you will most likely be dealing with that insurer.
While truck drivers are usually responsible for a pre-trip inspection and ensuring that they have loaded all cargo properly, trucking companies might share the blame. In some cases, other trucking company employees besides drivers are responsible for properly loading and securing cargo to trailers.
In addition, trucking companies are responsible for hiring, supervising, and retaining responsible and careful employees. When a trucking company fails to reasonably monitor loading procedures and hiring practices, unqualified or inexperienced drivers might unwittingly bring about a collision by failing to secure their truck cargo properly; when that occurs, and another person is injured, the trucking company can be liable.
Suppose you have suffered injuries in a truck accident that occurred because someone else was negligent. In that case, a truck accident attorney in the St. Louis area can help you determine the likely cause of your accident. In some instances, your attorney might need to retain an expert who can investigate the circumstances and assess exactly what happened and how the accident occurred.
Your attorney can assist you with determining the cause of your accident and whom to file a claim with. Once your attorney files a claim with the proper insurance company, he or she can field settlement offers on your behalf, and if necessary, litigate the case in the Missouri court system.
Deadline to File a Truck Accident Claim or Lawsuit
Victims of car and truck accidents that occur within the State of Missouri have a period of five years from their accident date in which to file a claim or lawsuit for personal injuries. Therefore, if improperly loaded cargo leads to a truck accident, the accident victim must file his or her claim/lawsuit against the at-fault truck driver, trucking company, or trucking company employee within five years of the accident date.
This five-year deadline is a hard-and-fast rule. Therefore, if the accident victim’s lawyer files the lawsuit five years later, a court will dismiss it.
Seek out experienced legal representation in your truck accident case as soon as possible after your collision. Waiting too long can prevent you from getting the compensation that you deserve.
A knowledgeable truck accident attorney can file a timely lawsuit on your behalf so that he or she can begin negotiating a fair settlement offer for you. In some cases, insurance companies may refuse to offer fair and full compensation for truck accident injuries. If that occurs in your case, your attorney can file a lawsuit in the court system and litigate it to a conclusion there.
The Burden of Proof in a St. Louis Truck Accident Claim
Missouri is a fault-based state when it comes to motor vehicle accidents. Therefore, as an injured accident victim, you must demonstrate fault on the other driver’s part. In the context of accidents involving loose truck cargo, you must demonstrate that the truck driver, trucking company, or someone else did not properly secure the cargo to the truck bed and that, as a result, the cargo fell off the truck and caused or contributed to your accident.
In addition to proving that someone else caused the accident, you must also demonstrate that you suffered at least one injury in the accident and that your injury resulted from the accident. When it comes to proving medical damages, your lawyer will also need to retain a medical expert in your case. The expert must causally relate your injuries to the accident by stating, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the accident was at least one cause of your injury or injuries.
A St. Louis truck accident attorney can assist you with satisfying your legal burden and meeting all of the elements of proof in your case. Your attorney will also work to maximize your damages and pursue the greatest amount of compensation available to you in your case.
Injuries in Loose Cargo Truck Accidents
Whenever cargo loaded onto a truck or trailer falls out into the middle of the road, a serious accident can occur. An oncoming driver might run into the cargo at a high rate of speed, preventing him/her from stopping the vehicle. Hitting the cargo in the wrong way can cause the oncoming vehicle to spin around, overturn, and suffer significant damage. Also, to avoid colliding with the cargo, the driver may need to veer away, striking another motor vehicle or a stationary object on the side of the road.
Any of these collisions can cause the accident victim’s body to move around the interior of the vehicle. For example, the driver or passenger’s body might thrust forward and backward in a proper manner, or the driver/passenger might hit something in the vehicle, such as the headrest, steering wheel, or window. Any of these movements can lead to significant injuries. Some possible injuries include traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, soft tissue injuries, back problems, spinal cord injuries, shoulder injuries, and internal damage.
If you have suffered any of these injuries in a truck accident that occurred because of improperly loaded cargo, you may have a right to pursue monetary compensation for your injuries and their aftermath. A St. Louis truck accident attorney can assess your eligibility for damages and pursue the compensation that you deserve from the at-fault person’s insurance company.
Pursuing Monetary Compensation for Your Injuries
People who suffer injuries in truck accidents often need to go to the hospital and seek additional medical treatment afterward. They may also need to follow up with a family doctor, undergo a surgical procedure, and attend physical therapy sessions.
It is no secret that most people cannot afford to pay for healthcare. As a result, many truck accident victims rack up medical bills very quickly after their collision. Fortunately, victims of truck accidents can be eligible to pursue monetary recovery from the at-fault truck driver or trucking company employee who improperly loaded cargo onto the vehicle.
Truck accident damages will vary from case to case. Therefore, the victim of one truck accident might not be eligible to recover the same types of damages as another truck accident victim. Moreover, the amounts of these damages will vary from case to case. Generally speaking, the more severe the truck accident victim’s injuries, the more complex the medical treatment, and the higher the cost, the more compensation the accident victim will be eligible to receive.
First of all, victims of truck accidents can pursue monetary compensation for all of their medical expenses and bills, including the costs of medical treatment, physical therapy bills, and surgical costs. In addition, if the truck accident victim had to miss time away from work following their collision, then lost wage compensation might be available. In some instances, victims of serious truck accidents can no longer return to the same job or line of work. When that is the case, the accident victim can claim a loss of earning capacity.
In addition, victims of truck accidents can sometimes recover noneconomic damages, such as compensation for inconvenience, pain, and suffering. Likewise, truck accident victims can pursue a claim for mental distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of the ability to use a body part in cases of permanent injury. A truck accident attorney in St. Louis will work to maximize your damages and ensure that you get all of the compensation that you deserve.
In many instances, St. Louis truck accident claims settle at some point after initiating the claim, while at other times, a lawyer will need to litigate the personal injury case to a conclusion in the court system or at an arbitration proceeding. Your attorney will explain all of your legal options to you and help you decide on the best course of action for your truck accident case.