When large commercial trucks such as semis, tractor trailers and 18-wheelers take to the road, any of a number of parties may have been involved in the packing, loading, securing and transporting of the cargo. When that cargo, or parts of it fall from the truck, it creates a hazardous road condition that can ultimately cause one or more serious accidents. Unfortunately for those injured in debris-related crashes, it can be very difficult determining just who is liable in these situations.
Drivers are, indeed responsible for taking reasonable measures to secure their cargo. In fact, according to Florida law, motorists who cause violent or fatal accidents because they fail to secure items with tarps, tie-downs or other covers could even face criminal misdemeanor charges — and this applies to both non-commercial and commercial drivers. But the Florida Department of Transportation, or the entity that operates particular roadways (the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, for example), is also responsible for taking reasonable measures to maintain its roads and remove debris and fallen cargo in a timely fashion. Furthermore, equipment failure or defect on the part of the vehicle could also play a role in releasing cargo or debris.
While a truck accident lawyer can help injury victims conduct thorough investigations in order to obtain proper damages, all drivers should take the following safety precautions to avoid debris-related accidents whenever possible:
- Keep a safe distance from vehicles carrying cargo—at least 4 seconds—and try not to travel side-by-side for a prolonged period of time.
- Only navigate around pieces of debris that would otherwise cause damage, as a sharp swerve could result in a collision with an object or another vehicle.
- Regularly scan the horizon and the immediate foreground for potential hazards.