Who Is Liable if I Am Hit by Debris that Falls Off a Truck?

debris that falls off truck

Imagine that you are driving behind a large commercial truck on a busy highway when suddenly, a large piece of debris falls off the truck and strikes your vehicle. Depending on the size of the object that hit your car, this could cause considerable property damage. In addition, if the debris breaks through the front windshield or startles you, causing you to swerve off the road or strike another vehicle, this could also cause very serious injuries. Truck drivers have a responsibility to ensure that their cargo is properly secured and take the necessary steps to prevent objects from falling off the truck. If you are injured in a truck accident that was caused by falling debris, you may be eligible for financial compensation by filing a personal injury claim against the truck driver or the trucking company. An experienced truck accident lawyer can assist you with the claims process and secure the compensation for which you are entitled.

What Should I Do if I Was in a Truck Accident Caused by Falling Debris?

Owing to their massive size and weight, large commercial trucks can cause considerable property damage and severe injuries if they are involved in an accident. Unfortunately, it is usually the occupants of the passenger vehicle involved in the accident who suffer the most serious injuries. Even if the accident was caused by falling debris, and not a collision with the truck, it can cause significant property damage and life-threatening injuries, particularly if the debris that fell from the truck hit the front windshield, or caused the driver to swerve suddenly, hitting another vehicle. If you are involved in a truck injury that was caused by falling debris, call 911 as soon as possible to report the accident and report any injuries so that dispatch can send an ambulance to the scene. If you are able to safely move and get out of your car, take the following steps:

  • Take pictures. Gather as much evidence as possible by taking pictures of the accident scene, the damage to your vehicle, your injuries, the debris that fell from the truck, and anything else that can help prove that the truck driver was at fault.
  • Exchange information. Do not get into a conversation with the truck driver. Only exchange the basic information, including license plate numbers, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information. Also make sure that you take a picture of the truck, particularly if it has the truck company’s name, phone number, or any other identifying information on the side or back of the truck.
  • Talk to witnesses. If there were witnesses in the vicinity who saw the accident happen, they may be able to provide valuable information about the events leading up to the accident. Ask the witnesses if they would be willing to provide a statement and ask for their contact information.
  • Notify your insurance company. Contact your insurance company and let them know that you were injured in a truck accident. Keep in mind that insurance companies are in the business of making money, so they will use a range of tactics to avoid paying a costly settlement. Provide only the basic information about the accident.
  • Contact a truck accident lawyer. Truck companies often have a team of highly paid lawyers who will work very hard to protect their client’s interests. Having an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side will ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you receive fair financial compensation, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 

How Do I Recover Damages for an Accident Caused by Falling Debris?

If you were seriously injured or your vehicle was severely damaged from debris that fell from a truck, there are two ways that you can recover damages, including the following:

  • Negligence: When objects such as pipes, building materials, or gravel fall from a commercial truck, the truck driver, or the person responsible for loading and securing the cargo, is generally considered liable for any property damage or injuries that the falling debris caused. However, you must be able to prove that the person was negligent, and that the falling object was the actual cause of the accident and the resulting property damage and injuries. To prove negligence, you must be able to establish the following:
    Duty of care: The truck driver has a duty to protect the other motorists on the road by ensuring that the cargo and the materials that are being transported are property secured, loaded, and covered. In addition, he or she had a duty to follow the rules of the road, to make safety a priority, and to avoid any unsafe driving behavior.
    Breach of duty: The truck driver breached his or her duty by failing to properly load, secure, or cover the cargo, or was driving in a way that compromised the safety of the other motorists in the vicinity.
    Causation: The truck driver’s breach of duty was the direct cause of the accident and the resulting injuries.
    Damages: You suffered damages as a result of the debris that fell from the truck.
  • Res ipsa loquitur: This is a Latin term, which means “the thing speaks for itself.” From a legal perspective, it refers to a situation in which an injury would not have occurred unless an individual was negligent. This theory may apply in cases involving objects or debris falling from trucks, as it is unlikely that cargo or debris would fall if it had been properly loaded and secured. In order to prove the theory of res ipsa loquitur, the following elements must be met:
    Negligence was present: The accident would not have occurred if negligence were not involved.
    Defendant has total control: The action, such as falling debris, that resulted in injuries was under the control of the defendant, in this case, the truck driver.
    Plaintiff had no control: The accident and the resulting injuries were completely out of control of the individual who was injured in the accident.

Who Is Liable for My Injuries?

Even a minor truck accident can cause serious injuries to the occupants of a passenger vehicle involved in the accident. When a truck accident is caused by falling debris, injuries can range from minor cuts and scrapes to broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and organ damage, depending on the circumstances of the accident. In most cases, the truck driver, the individual responsible for loading the cargo, or the trucking company will be liable for your injuries if you can prove that negligence was involved, and that the accident could have been prevented if the cargo was properly loaded and secured, and if the truck driver was obeying the rules of the road. The only exception to this rule is if there is a sign or some other type of warning on the truck that clearly states that there is a risk of falling objects and that motorists in the vicinity should leave extra distance between them and the truck. If you did not leave extra following distance, and you suffered property damage or injuries from the falling debris, you will likely be liable for the damages.

How Can I Avoid Getting Hit by Falling Debris?

Although you cannot control how a truck driver loads and secures the cargo he or she is transporting, or whether they make every effort to avoid unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, drowsy driving, or distracted driving, you can take the following proactive steps to avoid being hit by falling debris:

  • Avoid tailgating. Whether driving behind a truck or another passenger vehicle, tailgating is dangerous, particularly when you are traveling at a high speed on a busy highway. This increases the risk of a rear-end accident, which can have devastating consequences if you are driving behind a large truck. Tailgating also increases the risk of property damage and injuries if debris falls from the truck.
  • Leave plenty of space on one side of your vehicle so that you can safely change lanes to avoid getting hit by falling debris.
  • Drive defensively and stay alert at all times, particularly when driving in the vicinity of a large commercial truck.
  • Avoid all distractions when driving, including making phone calls, reading or sending text messages, and anything else that could take your attention away from the road.

Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Clients Injured by Falling Debris

If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident that was caused by falling debris, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Our skilled legal team has a proven track record of reaching successful settlement outcomes for our clients. We will thoroughly review the details of your case, determine who is liable for your injuries, and ensure that you receive full and fair financial compensation. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, NottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.