Who May be at Fault for a Crash Caused by an Object Falling from a Vehicle?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Car Accidents Published on February 25, 2022 and updated on March 15, 2022.

tie downs on back of trailerWe have all seen cars, trucks or SUVs with cargo strapped to the roof or coming out of the trunk. Sometimes this excess cargo is tied down and sometimes it is not.

You have also likely encountered work trucks with cargo in the bed of the truck or even hanging off the sides of the vehicle. Unfortunately, sometimes you can tell the driver did not do the best job of securing cargo to ensure it will not fall off the truck while it is in motion.

Whether the vehicle in question is a work vehicle or not, many drivers instinctively steer clear of it out of concern that something might fall off the vehicle and cause a crash. Falling cargo could easily cause a dangerous crash that may result in serious injuries or even death.

When these crashes happen, liability may be complex. Often, the driver is the one party that bears liability for damages. However, sometimes there are other parties that may bear fault for what happened.

Our experienced Maryland-based vehicle crash lawyers are available to discuss legal options following a falling object crash. Our goal is to secure maximum compensation for your damages. Our services come with no upfront cost, so there is no financial risk in contacting us.

Liability for Failing to Secure Cargo

Drivers have a duty of care to operate their vehicles safely to help prevent an accident that could injure other people. Generally, the idea is they need to take the same steps a reasonable person would take to avoid a crash.

While this concept could cover a variety of activities, it typically applies violations of traffic laws, like laws on speeding, tailgating other cars, or violating another driver’s right of way.

In the case of a crash caused by a falling object, Maryland has a law that prohibits people from driving a vehicle with any load unless the vehicle is built or loaded in such a way to prevent the cargo from dropping, sifting, leaking or falling out.

If something falls off a vehicle, the driver has broken the law. If that object falling onto the road results in a crash that causes damages, the driver is likely to be liable for damages caused by the crash.

As the victim of the crash the burden of proof would be on you. You would need to provide evidence that the object caused the crash, and this directly resulted in your injuries. You would also need to prove the driver failed to properly secure the object. You might need to show proof that the object belonged to the driver.

Pictures of the vehicle may be helpful in building your case, particularly if those pictures show other cargo that is not well secured in the vehicle.

What if the Vehicle was a Work Vehicle or Commercial Truck?

You may be able to prove someone besides the driver of the vehicle is at fault. For example, maybe he or she had help loading cargo into his or her vehicle. You may be able to hold that third party at least partially liable for your damages. For example, maybe the driver bought something, and an employee of the store helped to load it into the vehicle.

However, holding a third party liable may be easier if that third party is the employer of the driver. For example, you may have a case against an employer of someone driving a work truck. Maybe your crash was caused by a piece of glass or marble that fell off a work truck. The employer may be vicariously liable for the actions of its employee in loading the truck.

If the vehicle was a commercial truck and part of its cargo fell onto the roadway, you may have a case against the driver, his or her employer and the company that was responsible for loading cargo into the trailer.

As truck crash cases are complex, you should discuss things with a licensed attorney. An experienced lawyer can help level the playing field against trucking companies with deep pockets that are committed to avoiding accountability.

Could I be Held Partially Liable for the Crash?

It may be possible to hold a driver partially liable for crashing into an object the fell out of another car, or for crashing because the driver was attempting to avoid an object in the middle of the road.

If you had a lot of time to avoid the object and you did not because you were speeding or not paying attention, you may be partially to blame.

In Maryland, being partially to blame for a crash is a big deal for a claim – our state prohibits injury victims from recovering any compensation if they are even one percent to blame for a crash.

However, you should not rely on the insurance company’s judgment about your role in the crash. They often try to make crash victims believe they are partially to blame when that is not the case. You should discuss the situation with an experienced attorney.

Preventing a Crash with a Falling Object

Some crashes are unavoidable. However, there are times you can take steps to avoid a crash. For example, you should always be focused on the road and watching for potential hazards.

You should also try to get away from vehicles with a lot of cargo, particularly if the cargo appears to be moving or unsecured. That means slowing down or changing lanes when possible.

Make sure to avoid tailgating vehicles with a lot of cargo. If you are too close you have less time to react to trouble and potentially avoid a crash. Tailgating is a form of reckless driving, which means it could be used as a reason to assign partial fault for a crash to you.

No Upfront Fees or Obligations. Call Today for Legal Help

The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl is ready to help you seek compensation for damages from a car crash caused by negligence. We have secured millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of victims of negligence, including many vehicle crash victims.

You can schedule an initial consultation to learn more about how we may be able to help you with your claim. We work on contingency, which means there are no upfront fees and no legal obligations.

There are no legal obligations or upfront fees. Call 410-907-3957.