Falling Cargo Accidents

June 8, 2023 | By Nicolette R. Nicoletti
Falling Cargo Accidents

You’re driving along the highway when something falls off the nearby dump truck and strikes your windshield. If you are lucky, you get away with a minor crack in the glass, but falling cargo accidents can be much more serious and lead to painful injuries and even death.

If a falling cargo accident injured you or caused your family member’s death, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation from the responsible party. This compensation may cover your medical bills, loss of income, and damage to your vehicle. It may even compensate you for your pain and suffering. For help getting the compensation you need, contact a truck accident lawyer with experience handling falling cargo accident cases.

What Is a Falling Cargo Accident?

A falling cargo accident usually occurs when cargo directly falls from one vehicle, usually a truck, and strikes another vehicle.

However, even when it does not strike another car, falling cargo can cause an accident by creating a hazard on the road. Many collisions occur when a vehicle swerves to avoid fallen cargo.

Some of the most common causes of falling cargo accidents include:

Loose Debris

Dump trucks are notorious for spilling debris as they drive down the road. They often carry loads of dirt, mulch, sand, or gravel, and loose debris can fly out as the truck moves. Many times, this debris is loose because the truck was overfilled or not covered.

Unsecured or Poorly Secured Load

Cargo trucks must comply with the rules that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces when securing their loads. Those loading and driving the truck need to immobilize or secure the loads using tie-downs, shoring bars, dunnage, or dunnage bags, as well as use an adequate number of securement devices and observe working load limits for each device. Improperly secured loads can fall or roll off the truck, causing accidents.

Cargo Shift

It is not enough to start the journey with a properly secured load. Truckers must check the load periodically to make sure that it is still secure and in place. Shifting cargo can make the truck lose its balance, which may cause the trucker to lose control and spill the cargo.

Leaking Tanks

Some cargo trucks carry liquid cargo, which can range from food products such as juice or cooking oil to hazardous chemicals like natural gas. Even small leaks can lead to accidents by making the roads slick, and larger ruptures can cause massive spills, explosions, and serious public health hazards.

Truck Rollovers or Other Accidents

When a commercial truck rolls over, collides with another vehicle, or collides with a barrier, even a secured load can escape. The securement devices may break, or tanks of liquid may rupture, leading to large volumes of debris in the road.

Can a Lawyer Help Me After a Falling Cargo Accident?

A lawyer can help you after a falling cargo accident by listening to your story, explaining your legal options, and helping you determine the best way to recover damages.

They can:

  • Evaluate your case to determine your options for compensation
  • Estimate your damages so you know how much to seek from the at-fault party and/or their insurance provider
  • Gather evidence like the police report, dashcam footage, truck maintenance records, relevant video and photos, eyewitness statements, and medical records
  • Negotiate a settlement with the insurance provider to cover your losses
  • File a lawsuit if your best option is to sue the responsible party or parties

Most truck accident lawyers take cases on a no-win, no-fee basis, so you won’t take any financial risk when you sign on with them.

Who Is Responsible for a Falling Cargo Accident?

You might think that the truck driver is responsible for a falling cargo accident—after all, they were behind the wheel. Many falling cargo accidents do result from careless truck drivers, but several other parties might be at fault.

Identifying the responsible party or parties is important because they are financially responsible for the accident. A lawyer can evaluate your case and identify who caused the accident.

To establish liability, your attorney must demonstrate that your case contains these four elements:

  • Duty of care: The party in question had an obligation to avoid placing you at risk of harm. For example, company owners have an obligation to maintain their trucks and train their drivers. Cargo loading companies have an obligation to secure cargo according to federal rules.
  • Breach of duty: The party in question disregarded its duty of care, acted carelessly and irresponsibly, and put you at risk. Using the same example, a cargo loading company might secure the load but fail to use the minimum number of securement devices, knowing that the cargo might then fall.
  • Causation: By breaching the duty of care, the party in question caused the accident that led to your injuries.
  • Damages: It is not enough to show that the party in question caused the accident. You must show that you suffered financial losses because of it. For example, you had to pay for medical treatment or take unpaid time off work because of your accident-related injuries.

Here are some of the parties that may bear responsibility for your falling cargo accident:

Cargo Truck Driver

Cargo truck drivers bear responsibility for their loads. If they neglect that responsibility, they may be at fault for a resulting accident. For example, trucker drivers must check the cargo from time to time during transit to make sure it is still safely secured.

Truck drivers also have an obligation to drive in a way that keeps the cargo secured. Like all other drivers, they must follow traffic laws and other special rules that apply only to truckers. For example, FMCSA regulates how many consecutive hours a truck driver can work, how frequently they must take driving breaks, and how many hours they must stay off-duty before driving again.

Truck drivers also face stricter standards concerning impaired driving. The FMCSA has established that a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04 or higher is under the influence of alcohol. This standard is much lower than the BAC of 0.08 that applies to non-commercial drivers.

Owner of the Cargo

The company that owns the cargo being transported has an obligation to make sure that it is properly secured. If the company fails to check it before the truck leaves, they may be responsible for a resulting falling cargo accident.

Trucking Company

Some truck drivers are owner-operators, but others work for larger trucking companies. These companies own the trucks and have a responsibility to inspect and maintain them. They must also screen their drivers before hiring and make sure that they are qualified to transport the cargo. If a falling cargo accident occurs because of an unqualified driver’s mistakes or a poorly maintained truck, the company may be responsible.

Cargo Loading Company

Many times, subcontractors load the cargo. If a truck makes multiple deliveries, these subcontractors may unload part of the cargo and leave some on the truck. Cargo loading companies must properly load and secure the cargo at the start of the truck’s journey.

If it makes multiple stops, these companies must make sure that the remaining cargo is still secure. Cargo loading companies that neglect any of these steps may be responsible for resulting accidents and injuries.

Truck or Trucking Parts Manufacturer

Defective truck parts, such as brakes or steering components, can easily lead to truck accidents that result from falling cargo. In that case, the manufacturer of the truck or its individual parts may be responsible for the accident.


Poorly designed or maintained roads and intersections can be dangerous for any vehicle and are especially dangerous for cargo trucks. Potholes, crumbling roads, and lack of proper signage can cause falling cargo accidents. In these situations, the municipality in charge of the roads may be responsible for the accident.

Damages Available After a Falling Cargo Accident

Every falling cargo accident is different; some cause minor damage to the body of the vehicle, while others cause serious and life-altering injuries.

The value of the damages reflects these differences. A lawyer familiar with falling cargo accident cases can evaluate your case and estimate how much compensation you may recover. The damages potentially available to you include:

Economic Damages in a Falling Cargo Accident Case

Economic damages provide you with compensation for tangible losses you experienced because of the falling cargo accident.

These losses may include:

  • Medical expenses, such as bills for your emergency treatment, ambulance ride, diagnostic imaging, follow-up care, surgeries, prescription medications, and occupational, physical, and speech therapy
  • Future medical bills, such as ongoing therapy, anticipated surgeries and doctor’s appointments, and assistance with activities of daily living
  • Medical equipment you may need because of your injuries, such as braces, crutches, wheelchairs, motorized scooters, transfer lifts, and hospital beds
  • Household modifications accommodating your injuries, such as wider doorways and hallways, wheelchair ramps, and accessible bathrooms
  • Loss of income, including tips or bonuses that you missed while you were out of work recovering
  • Future loss of income for any income you will miss because you cannot return to your previous job or because you can no longer work at all
  • Property damage costs, such as the repair or replacement of your vehicle

Non-Economic Damages in a Falling Cargo Accident Case

Non-economic damages provide you with compensation for intangible losses, such as your pain and suffering caused by the accident. Putting a price tag on your pain may seem challenging, but a lawyer with experience handling personal injury cases can quantify these losses.

You may recover non-economic losses if you:

  • Suffer from chronic pain
  • Went through a long recovery period
  • Required multiple treatments or surgeries
  • Lost a limb, other body part, or the function of a limb or body part
  • Became permanently disabled
  • Have scars or other disfigurement
  • Lost the ability to participate in the hobbies or activities you once enjoyed
  • Developed a mental health problem, such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, or PTSD
  • Have a reduced quality of life

Wrongful Death Damages in a Falling Cargo Accident Case

Money can never replace the family member you lost in a falling cargo accident. However, seeking damages for wrongful death allows you to hold the at-fault party responsible for their actions while securing your own financial future.

State laws vary in terms of which family members can seek wrongful death damages and the types of compensation available. A lawyer can explain how your state laws affect your case.

Here are some of the wrongful death damages you may recover:

  • Medical bills for your family member’s medical treatment after the falling cargo accident
  • Funeral and burial expenses such as embalming, cremation, and a memorial service
  • Pain and suffering experienced by your family member before they passed away because of the falling cargo accident
  • Loss of support and services, including the probable future income of your family member as well as the chores and services they would have provided
  • Loss of companionship and protection that your family member would have provided
  • Pain and suffering experienced by the surviving family members because of their loss
  • Loss of parental companionship, guidance, and instruction experienced by any surviving children of your family member

Every state establishes its own legal deadlines for personal injury and wrongful death cases. Some states allow for extensions under specific circumstances, but in general, once the statute of limitations has passed, you lose your legal right to sue the responsible party.

Nicolette Nicoletti, Truck Accident Attorney near Port Richey, FL area
Nicolette Nicoletti, Car Accident Lawyer in Port Richey

When you speak with a personal injury lawyer familiar with the laws in your state, they can explain how they affect you and how to preserve your legal right to sue.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today!

Nicolette R. Nicoletti Author Image

Nicolette R. Nicoletti

Managing Partner

Nicolette R. Nicoletti is the founder and managing partner of the Nicoletti Accident Injury Lawyers. She was born and raised in New Port Richey, Florida.  Nicolette attended Genesis Preparatory School and graduated salutatorian of her class.  She then went onto Saint Leo University for her undergraduate education. She graduated magna cum laude from the Honors Program with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.  While at Saint Leo University, Nicolette was President of Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science Honor Society), Secretary of Alpha Phi Sigma (Criminal Justice Honor Society), and an active member of Delta Epsilon Sigma (National Scholastic Honor Society).

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