Every driver in Acworth has seen them on the roads and highways: cars, trucks and vehicles with improperly secured loads. Sometimes, it is a pair of mattresses “tied” to the roof of a car threatening to fly up from the wind shear. Or a metal recycler in a rusty dented pick-up truck overloaded with junk, any piece of which might fall out at the next pothole. Or someone with plywood or lumber hanging out of their trunk dragging along the pavement. Or a young couple with a happy holiday Christmas tree hanging precariously to one side of the car roof. Most of us steer very clear and very wide of such vehicles and maybe even smile a bit since we have been that driver once a long time ago.
But in truth, improperly secured loads can be quite dangerous, particularly when large trucks and flatbeds are involved. Probably no one has ever been killed by a flying mattress or a falling Christmas tree, but that is not the case with loads that tumble from a truck. In July 2018, a Minnesota mother and her daughter were both killed when an 800-pound boulder came loose from a flatbed truck and crashed down into their car. Since the wreck, the driver of the truck has been arrested and will be charged in the deaths. See news report here.
In this article, we discuss legal principles of such an accident here in Georgia. Under Georgia law, the surviving members of the family would be absolutely entitled to sue for wrongful death. If you or a family member are injured in a wreck or collision here in Acworth, you are entitled to be fully compensated for any and all injuries including wrongful death. You will need to hire dedicated and proven Acworth automobile accident attorneys like those at the Roger Ghai Law Offices.
Acworth Auto Accidents Attorneys – Legal Principles Under Georgia Law
In Acworth and in Georgia generally, a person injured or killed in a wreck or collision can sue to recover money damages under the law of negligence. In general, Georgia drivers owe a duty to care to other drivers and others using the roads and highway to make sure that they driving safely and in such a manner as to avoid injuring others. Among these duties are to keep a careful watch, obey traffic signals and laws, use their horn when necessary as a warning, stop for emergency vehicles, etc. With respect to loads and objects being carried on vehicles, Georgia statute imposes the following duty:
“No vehicle shall be driven or moved on any public road unless such vehicle is constructed or loaded or covered so as to prevent any of its load from dropping, escaping, or shifting in such a manner as to:
(1) Create a safety hazard; or
(2) Deposit litter on public or private property while such vehicle is on a public road.”
A similar duty is imposed with respect to any covering on a load that is being carried. See Georgia statute O.C.G.A., § 40-6-248.1.
If a load or part of a load falls from a vehicle and an accident, injury or property damages is caused thereby, the owner of the vehicle has breached his or her duty and, as noted, can be held liable under theories of negligence.
Acworth Auto Accidents Attorneys – Legal Principles Under Federal Trucking Regulations
In addition to Georgia law, trucks must comply with various federal highway and safety regulations. There are, for example, regulations set out in the Cargo Securement Handbook published by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration. See here.
In general, there are two reasons that a load might fall from a truck or vehicle: (i) improper/insufficient restraints or tie-downs and (ii) improper distribution of the weight of the load (that is, too far to one side or too far front/back). Proper distribution and sufficiently strong tie-downs are needed to prevent the loads and cargos from falling off the truck because of inertial forces. As an example, as the truck is moving forward, so it the cargo. When the truck brakes, the cargo retains its forward momentum and the cargo will continue moving forward unless it is properly tied down and secured.
The Handbook establishes regulations for tying down cargo for all directions: forward/back, to each side and upwards based on percentage of weight. Thus, for example, the tie-downs, restraints and all anchor points for any cargo must be strong enough to withstand 80 percent of the weight/force of the cargo in the forward direction, 50 percent in the rearward direction, 50 percent side-to-side and 20 percent in the upward direction.
In addition to the strength of the restraints and anchor points, all of the components must be in good working order. Thus, there should be no obvious damage, no weakened knots or connectors, no frayed ropes, etc.
Acworth Auto Accidents Attorneys — Speed and Hazard Warnings Matter
In addition to the proper distribution and tie-down of the cargo, there are other elements that factor into the question of negligence. The two most important are speed and hazard warnings. As noted, the cargo itself retains the inertial forces of the vehicle as it drives and turns. Logically, if a truck or vehicle is driving slowly, the inertial forces “given” to the cargo is also slow. Conversely, a truck blasting down the road at a high rate of speed is imparting to its cargo the same high rate of speed. If there is a need for a sudden braking or deceleration, more strength is needed to stop the inertia of the cargo — force is a combination of mass and speed. In practical terms, a fast moving vehicle with a loose load is more likely to be held liable than a slow moving vehicle.
In addition, hazard warnings are an important factor. A driver who provides sufficient hazard warnings might avoid liability even if the load is improperly secured.
As can be seen, these types of accidents can be quite complex with respect to why the load/cargo came loose and the rules and regulations that apply. It is important to hire Georgia team of auto accident lawyers with experience in working up and resolving complex truck accident cases.
Acworth Auto Accidents Lawyers: Contact the Roger Ghia Law Offices Today
For more information, contact the Kennesaw accident and personal injury attorneys at the Roger Ghai Law Offices We provide legal services for the residents of Cobb County including the communities of Kennesaw, Acworth, Marietta and the surrounding areas. Click here to schedule your consultation.