Cargo shift may cause accident.
Inadequately secured cargo may shift during the course of travel and cause a truck to jackknife, rollover or become difficult to steer, which may have been the case in a recent accident when a truck overturned in Portsmouth, Virginia. The United States Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Administration estimates over 500,000 truck accidents every year, some of which are caused by issues with a trucks cargo. Cargo is an important safety consideration for trucking companies, and is often dependent solely on the people who load and/or drive these large trucks that already have limited maneuverability in certain traffic patterns. If an accident is caused by poorly or overloaded cargo, other parties besides the driver may be held responsible for damages from the accident.
Overloading cargo is when a truck is carrying more than the specific maximum weight designed for the truck. A trucking company may do this to avoid making more than one trip that would cost more road time and fuel. An overloaded truck can cause an accident because: 1) the added weight requires longer stopping distances; 2) tires may not be able to support the extra weight and cause blowout situations; 3) mechanical components may not be able to bear the weight increasing downhill speeds and decreasing uphill speed of a truck, and most importantly a shift in cargo weight could cause an overturn or jackknife situation.
The responsibility in a truck accident where only the rig itself was involved and its driver injured, would fall back to the insurance of the driver and/or the trucking company and is dependent on who owns the truck, and if the driver was an employee of a trucking company or an independent contractor. Virginia vehicle insurance law and personal injury avenues would be explored to support settlement offers and cases for legal action to recover damages to the truck and/or injuries to its driver, as well as insurance that covered the cargo lost.
Evidence that may help to support a legal claim includes:
- Testimony of witnesses and injured party;
- Trucking company or driver’s admissions of fault directly after the accident or sometime later (person loading the truck);
- Crash scene photographs;
- Safety reports on vehicles involved in the accident completed before and after the accident.
- Blood alcohol tests of other drivers, or hospital blood tests that reveal intoxication of some sort related to drugs or alcohol.
- Cell phone records to make sure drivers were not texting or making calls at the time of the accident causing a distracted driver situation.
Types of damages.
Damages include those that address financial loss including lost wages, medical bills, and damage to property (compensatory) and those that seek punishment for causing the accident (punitive).
Hire an attorney.
If someone is injured in a trucking accident, damages that can be sought after include compensation for present lost wages, future loss of income, current and future medical bills, physical damages to the vehicle and will be based on a review of psychological injuries, bodily injury, liability insurance including uninsured motorist coverage, and the determination of the percentage of fault. Call the Law Offices of Kozak, Davis and Renninger to discuss actions toward a proceeding to recover losses from the damages and injuries of a truck accident.
Kozak, Davis & Renninger, P.C.
Phone: (757) 364-0923
355 Crawford Street, Suite 700
Portsmouth, VA 23704