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Load spill accidents are one of the scariest occurrences on the road for truck accident victims, and often happen even when you’ve done nothing wrong. But when an 18-wheeler or other large truck loses control and cargo, the consequences can be serious.
It can be difficult in these situations to distinguish whether the truck driver, trucking company, or another party is at fault for damages or serious injuries that occurred.
But a skilled truck accident attorney will have years of experience with these difficult scenarios, which can help you build a strong case, file a personal injury claim, or seek compensation.
If you’ve ever seen a trail of cargo strewn across the highway, you’ve likely seen the aftermath of a load spill accident.
Sometimes caused by jackknife accidents, these occurrences happen when commercial trucks lose control and their tractor-trailers tip over, causing a cargo spill. They may also happen when doors break loose.
Unfortunately, these types of accidents can lead to accident injuries for any motorists driving behind the big rig, especially when these large trucks are carrying loads that could weigh tens of thousands of pounds, or include hazardous materials.
There are several ways to determine who is at fault in a truck accident.
Negligence, reckless or wanton behavior, and intentional misconduct are all different types of fault that could help identify the at fault party in a legal case.
These describe someone failing to take proper care in a situation, someone acting irresponsibly, or someone participating in avoidable behavior leading up to an accident, respectively.
But when filing a truck accident claim, your truck accident lawyer will also look for liable parties. These are people or institutions, such as a trucking company, whose actions were directly responsible for the crash.
They may or may not be the same parties found at fault for a load spill accident, but the liable parties will be responsible for paying any damages.
Many people assume that truck drivers are the causes of truck accidents involving cargo spills. And of course, this is sometimes the case, especially in instances of driver error, including driving while fatigued, distracted, or under the influence.
But there can be other parties at play when determining liability in this type of semi-truck accident, including:
Negligence is an important factor in all personal injury cases, including those connected to load spill accidents and particularly when passenger vehicles or other accident victims are involved.
In fact, in most cases, there must be negligence present in order to pursue a case.
Negligence is established by first determining that the person or institution being sued had a duty of care in a certain situation.
This can include everything from following appropriate industry standards and regulations to providing employees with appropriate training, though duty of care is largely determined on a state-by-state basis.
A personal injury lawyer must then show how that person or institution failed to meet those obligations, referred to as breaching the duty of care.
Finally, to win damages, a truck accident attorney must prove that the breach of care in question led to real injuries suffered by the plaintiff.
There are several common causes of truck cargo spills in these types of motor vehicle accidents, including:
A truck crash involving a cargo spill can happen anywhere, from rural roads to busy highways.
If the road conditions are unsafe, the truck is improperly loaded, or the truck driver or other motorists fail to adhere to the rules of the road, it may lead up to a rollover and consequent load spill accident.
Still, these types of truck accidents are more likely to happen where big rigs are more likely to be on the road. A busy trucking route, like a major highway, is more likely to see a load spill accident.
Serious accidents like a load spill can unfortunately lead to a number of personal injuries. Some common truck accident injuries include:
If you, a family member, or a loved one have been involved in a load spill accident, an experienced legal team can offer a free case evaluation to help you determine the maximum compensation you can seek for these injuries.
Aside from injuries, you may also seek compensation for a number of damages caused by a cargo spill truck crash.
‘Damages’ is a wide-ranging term, and can apply to any of the following:
One of the easiest damages to calculate, medical expenses account for everything related to treating injuries sustained in the crash. This includes:
Another relatively straightforward cost to calculate is property damage related to the crash. This can include damage to your vehicle, or replacement for your vehicle if your insurance company declared a total loss. But property damage can also extend to any public transportation or ridesharing costs incurred while you were unable to use your vehicle.
If you sustained injuries in a load spill accident that caused you to miss work, you could be eligible for lost wages compensation. This accounts for wages, bonuses, or promotions you could have earned during the period of your injury.
Lost wages also apply in cases of severe injuries where someone becomes disabled and unable to perform their previous job. In these cases, damages can be awarded for this change in employment and any diminished earning capacity.
This type of damage is less straightforward than the others, but covers many important aspects related to involvement with this type of truck accident.
Among other claims, pain and suffering can account for any physical pain, mental anguish, disability, disfigurement, loss of consortium (the companionship of a spouse or partner), and the loss of enjoyment of life suffered as result of the crash.
In the most unfortunate cases, it may be possible to seek compensation for wrongful death. This involves any costs related to the funeral and burial of a loved one lost in a load spill accident, as well as the loss of financial or emotional support, loss of guidance, and loss of income or capacity to save money.
If you or a loved one have been impacted by a load spill accident, you likely have the right to file a personal injury claim. The process typically requires:
Hiring an experienced truck accident attorney who understands the complexities of the trucking industry can help ensure this process goes as smoothly as possible — and likely help you build a stronger case for compensation.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there were nearly 22,000 highway incidents involving hazardous material spills in 2021 alone. And that figure doesn’t account for other types of cargo spills that could cause equal or worse damage.
All told, the incidents tabulated by the BTS mounted to more than $53,000 in total property damage in 2021.
Still, load spill accident rates, and their total damages caused, are difficult to track, as these incidents are not consistently reported from state to state.
Find answers below to commonly asked questions regarding load spill accidents and related personal injury cases.
There are a number of common causes that can lead to cargo spill incidents.
Truck drivers can cause this type of truck accident through distracted or fatigued driving, speeding, tailgating, or turning too sharply.
Trucking companies may contribute to the crash by giving the go-ahead on an improperly loaded truck or failing to secure cargo. And the government may also have a hand in the crash by contributing to conditions of unsafe roads.
No. In fact, in many instances, the trucking company is found at fault for load spill accidents due to improper cargo loading.
Cargo spills can be prevented through a number of precautionary measures, such as ensuring all cargo is properly secured and evenly loaded throughout a tractor-trailer. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has a number of rules and federal regulations to help ensure these measures are taken with all commercial vehicles.
Truck drivers should also take care to be well-rested and resist distractions while behind the wheel.
Legal options will vary from case to case, but generally, if you or a loved one have been involved in a cargo spill accident, you’ll be entitled to file a personal injury case.
This will give you the ability to seek compensation for property damage, wage loss, medical bills, wrongful death, and more.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a load spill accident, you may have the right to file a claim.
A skilled truck accident lawyer or law firm can help you build a strong case, determine the types of damages you may be entitled to, and seek appropriate compensation for your experience.
LegalFinders can help you find a free consultation for your case, to help ensure you find the right personal injury attorney for the job.
Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) — Hazardous Materials Fatalities, Injuries, Accidents, and Property Damage Data
Legal Information Institute — Duty of care
Legal Information Institute — Negligence