Commercial vehicles are designed to carry large and heavy loads, whether that means hauling a load of fresh-cut timber, construction materials to build a house, or a trailer of goods for a big-box store. These materials may not be dangerous in themselves, but they clearly present a hazard if they fall off and hit a vehicle or drop onto the roadway into oncoming traffic. We have over seven decades of combined experience assisting individuals in seeking all the damages to which they are legally entitled.
We have represented victims from the Bronx and Brooklyn as well as communities across Suffolk and Nassau Counties. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.
Truckers and trucking companies must comply with a host of federal regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations are put in place to promote highway safety, and they deal with everything from vehicle maintenance to mandatory vehicle equipment, truck weight and size, driver qualifications, and work schedules. The FMCSA also has regulations that address vehicle loading, called “cargo securement rules.”
These rules spell out minimum specifications for equipment such as load tie-downs and also require that equipment be in working order and good condition. They further spell out how these tie-downs are to be utilized, not only to prevent cargo from coming loose or falling off but also to make sure that the load does not shift, which can make the truck unbalanced and difficult to handle. In addition, New York state law mandates that any driver who deposits “destructive or injurious material or any material which interferes with the safe use of the highway” must remove it.
Notwithstanding these laws, debris still occasionally falls off trucks, and thus accidents still happen. In these cases, it is likely that the truck operator has violated federal or state law.
When a driver causes a crash through a negligent act, that person may be held liable for all the injuries and costs that result from it. Normally, proving negligence requires that the plaintiff (the injured person) show that the defendant owed a duty to him or her, the defendant breached the duty, the breach caused an accident, and quantifiable damages arose as a result. When an accident occurs as a result of violating safety regulations, moreover, a plaintiff sometimes can allege “negligence per se.”
This rule may apply when:
- The defendant violated a valid law;
- The law was put in place to protect a certain class of people from harm;
- The plaintiff belongs to the class of people to be protected; and
- The defendant’s behavior caused the type of injury that the statute was designed to prevent.
Since federal cargo securement rules and New York’s road debris statute were intended to protect users of the road from the hazards created by falling debris, a person hurt by materials that have dropped from a truck might be able to claim that the trucker was negligent per se, even if he claimed that his load had been properly secured.
In addition, a trucker’s employer may be additionally liable under the legal principle of “respondeat superior.” This often allows an employer may be held responsible for an employee’s negligence if the negligent act was performed within the course of the employee’s performance of his or her job.
Debris that falls off a commercial vehicle can cause harm that is no less severe than it is unexpected. However, there is a limited time period to file a lawsuit, so you should not lose time in investigating whether you may have rights to assert. The experienced Queens falling debris accident lawyers at The Cassisi Law Firm can assist you with a negligence or wrongful death claim.
For a free consultation to find out how we can help, call us at 718-441-5050 or use our online form.