Tractor-trailers are the most dangerous vehicles on the roads. If you are hit by a eighteen wheeler, your chances of survival are much slimmer than if you are hit by a car. When we think of accidents involving tractor-trailers, semis, eighteen wheelers and other large trucks, we typically think of collisions. However, there is another type of accident that happens more often than many people think – when heavy objects fall from tractor-trailers and construction vehicles.
Even if you avoid an object that falls off a truck, it can cause a dangerous highway obstruction that causes other vehicles to crash. As reflected in some of our prior blogs, Jacksonville has had its fair share of these types of trucking accidents.
Earlier this month a 42-year-old man was killed in Jacksonville when a 7-ton slab of concrete fell from a truck, crushing him near the intersection of I-295 southbound and Old St. Augustine Road. According to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, the sound barrier panel which was to be put up on alongside I-95 fell off the truck, crushing the victim’s vehicle and killing him. The truck was owned by Big Ben Transport, a company headquartered in Tampa. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration and Department of Transportation was reported are investigationg to determine how this happened and to establish if negligence was involved.
In February of 2015, a driver was killed and his wife was injured on Interstate 95 in northern St. Johns County when a ladder fell off a truck into the path of another vehicle towing a camper. The 59-year-old man was killed and his wife was injured when their pickup truck jack-knifed and overturned after swerving to avoid the ladder that was lying in the center lane of the highway. The northbound lanes of I-95 were closed for more than eight hours while the accident was investigated and debris was cleared.
In addition to items that fall from vehicles, parts can come off a truck with deadly consequences. Last September, a 27-year-old man was killed when he was driving northbound on I-95 about 30 miles south of Jacksonville in St. Johns County, when a wheel came loose from a southbound truck, bounced over the concrete median and crashed through the windshield of his Mitsubishi Lancer.
Loads, tools and parts that fall from trucks prove deadly on Florida’s highways. One hundred and thirty one crashes caused by debris on the roads have already occurred in Florida since the beginning of 2015, with 21 persons suffering personal injuries. According to Triple A, unsecured loads are responsible for approximately 25,000 auto accidents in the United States annually. In those accidents, approximately 100 people die each year.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration governs trucks operating in interstate commerce. It has issued rules to ensure loads are safely secured on trucks. These load or cargo securement rules set out certain criteria for proper truck loading. Among those rules are:
• Maximum load weight limits;
• Requirements for transporting certain types of cargo that are susceptible to falling from a truck, such as logs (with the pulpwood logging industry in and around Jacksonville, this rule has special importance here), metal coils or automobiles;
• Requirements for cargo to be fully immobilized through the use of equipment such as inflatable dunnage bags; and
• A minimum number of tie-downs to immobilize cargo on the vehicle.
When truck drivers and trucking companies fail to stop their loads falling off, and an accident occurs, a victim, or the victim’s family, can pursue a claim against the parties responsible for the incident. Our Jacksonville trucking accident attorney has handled injury and wrongful death cases for more than 21 years. Call us at (904) 632-0077 for a free consultation.