Not all crashes are due to driving errors. One dangerous road hazard is objects falling from vehicles. If a driver does not secure the items he or she is transporting, a loose object can strike another car and cause serious harm. If an object is not properly secured to a vehicle, who pays for damages in a crash? This is a valid concern that can best be answered by an experienced lawyer.
Our auto crash lawyers in West Palm Beach are ready to offer legal assistance. Learn more about your rights and whether you have a claim for compensation during a risk-free, zero-obligation consultation.
General Liability for Damages in a Crash
If an object falls from a vehicle and hits your car, it does not automatically mean that the driver transporting the item is liable to cover your damages. A crash can still happen regardless if the other driver did everything he or she could to secure the load safely to his or her vehicle.
After a crash, you will need to go through your own insurer to cover your damages. Florida is a no-fault insurance system. Each insurance company compensates its own policyholders for the cost of damages, regardless of fault. However, it does not mean that no one is at fault in the event of a crash.
Should you carry collision coverage (optional for Florida drivers), it can help cover physical damage to your car if it collides with another vehicle or object. This type of coverage can also help with repair costs up to the value of your car before the crash happened.
It is important to review your policy and be informed about what your auto insurance covers and may not cover in different situations. Many drivers opt to purchase more insurance for added protection.
Negligence in Securing a Vehicle’s Load
Negligence can result in serious crashes. Perhaps the driver transporting the items failed to secure them properly. Perhaps the driver did not take steps to secure an object because he or she believed it would be too heavy to fall off. A loose or unsecured object can cause significant damages, particularly at high speeds.
Common objects that fall from vehicles include:
- Furniture (i.e. mattresses and spring boxes)
- Appliances (i.e. refrigerators and microwaves)
- Equipment (i.e. work tools and plywood)
These objects can fall on the road and create a hazard, fall on top of a vehicle or go through the windshield of a vehicle, which can cause serious and potentially life-threatening injuries.
Florida law requires all drivers to secure their load in a way to prevent it from becoming a road hazard. A driver cannot operate a vehicle without making sure a load will not drop, shift, leak, blow or escape.
Driving with an unsecured load is considered a noncriminal traffic infraction. Depending on the severity of the crash, penalties may include fines, jail time, probation and restitution to the crash victim.
To pursue a legal claim, you must prove that the object that fell from the vehicle was due to the other driver’s negligence. Hiring a lawyer to represent your best interests can be advantageous.
Does a Driver Have a Duty to Avoid a Falling Object?
Every driver has a duty to others to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly. However, a driver is under no duty to take precautions to avoid a crash caused by the fall of an object from another vehicle.
The only exception is if there was some warning that the load was in danger of falling and the driver had sufficient time to avoid the road hazard. If the driver was not tailgating or following too closely, then a crash caused by an object falling from a vehicle would be deemed out of the driver’s control.
Keeping Yourself and Others Safe on the Road
Drivers who transport items must do everything possible to secure these items before hitting the road. Some of these safety measures include:
- Securing the load with straps
- Utilizing heavy-duty rope and vehicle straps
- Keeping the load light and not overloading
- Inspecting the load in between stops
There are also certain things other drivers on the road can do to reduce the risk of being in a crash and avoiding falling objects, such as:
- Avoiding tailgating in order to make an evasive maneuver
- Having extra space on one side of your car if you need to swerve
- Remaining always alert for any hazards on the road
- Steering clear of any and all distractions
Call Gordon & Partners for a Free Consultation
If you have been in a crash caused by an object falling from a vehicle, Gordon & Partners is here to help. A licensed attorney at our firm can review your situation and determine if you have a claim in a free consultation. There is no risk in calling us and no obligation to move forward after this meeting.