It is not uncommon for debris to fall from trucks on the roads and highways, even though it is supposed to be properly secured. Falling debris can present a danger to nearby cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians who must swerve or get hit by the debris. In some cases, catastrophic injury or death may result. If you are hit by debris falling from an 18-wheeler or get into a wreck trying to avoid the debris, you should consult an experienced Atlanta lawyer who is familiar with truck accident cases. Stephen M. Ozcomert can advise you on whether you may have a claim for compensation.Pursuing Damages through a Negligence Claim
How do falling debris accidents occur? Sometimes a truck jack-knifes and spills its load. Other times, an item is not secured properly. In some cases, a truck is overloaded. Whatever the situation, you should be aware that the trucking industry is governed by stringent federal and state laws. It is important to retain an attorney familiar with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, the Georgia laws, and typical practices within the industry.
Among the regulations are rules that truck drivers load their vehicles appropriately with the correct weight and that they be secured. When investigating a falling debris case, it is crucial to interview witnesses, examine the debris and the vehicle damage, look into any prior history of accident or violations, and secure an expert to testify on the standard of care as it relates to loading and securing.
If a truck is traveling in interstate commerce, it must follow the FMCSA cargo securement rules, and if it is traveling within the state only, it must follow Georgia's laws. For example, the tie-downs must be attached and secured so that they cannot become loose or release while the truck is moving. If there are rub rails on a trailer, the tie-downs need to be located inboard of those rails when possible. If a tie-down would be subject to cutting where it touches a piece of cargo, edge protection must be used to resist that.
In most cases, you must prove that a truck driver was negligent in order to recover damages. You would have to show that the truck driver breached a duty of care owed to you and in so doing caused the accident and your damages. A failure to follow the rules related to tie-downs, for example, is likely to be a breach of duty. If this breach resulted in debris falling and hitting your car, you may be able to prove negligence and establish your right to compensation.
If the truck driver was working when the accident happened, his or her employer may be vicariously liable for the damages. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer can potentially be held indirectly liable for an employee's negligence if the employee was acting in the course and scope of his or her employment. Trucking companies sometimes try to get out of this rule by misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors, but your attorney can look into whether there has been a misclassification as part of your personal injury claim.Enlist a Motor Vehicle Collision Lawyer in Atlanta to Protect Your Rights
If you are hurt while driving due to falling debris from a truck in Atlanta or the surrounding cities, it may be crucial to retain a motor vehicle collision attorney who understands the trucking industry and typical tactics used to evade liability. Call the Law Offices of Stephen M. Ozcomert at (404) 370-1000 or contact us via our online form to arrange a free consultation. We also assist injured individuals in Decatur and other areas of DeKalb and Fulton Counties.