Truck with gravel drive on highway

Liability When an Object Falls Off of a Commercial Truck

Rodman Law Office Nov. 3, 2023

Commercial trucks transporting large and hazardous objects, such as construction materials and flammable products, are a common sight on the roads of Austin and other parts of Texas. Unfortunately, these objects and other types of cargo are not always safely loaded and secured on commercial trucks, which can result in loads spilling and objects falling from these vehicles.  

Road accidents resulting from objects that fall off of commercial trucks can cause devastating injuries, deaths, and catastrophic damage to other drivers on the road. When such incidents occur, it is important to understand who can be held liable for the harm caused. As an experienced attorney at Rodman Law Office, I help victims of accidents caused by objects falling from vehicles explore all available avenues to determine responsibility and seek the compensation to which they are entitled. My office is based in Austin, Texas, but I serve accident victims throughout the state of Texas, including Hays County, Travis County, and Williamson County.  

Common Types of Falling Commercial Truck Debris

Any type of debris or object that falls off a commercial truck can be incredibly dangerous, even something as tiny as a rock or gravel. There are several common types of objects that often fall off commercial trucks and have the potential to cause serious accidents, including: 

  • Rocks, gravel, or bricks 

  • Household and grocery items 

  • Raw materials such as metal beams 

  • Live animals 

  • Luggage 

  • Furniture  

  • Tires and mechanical truck parts 

  • Construction equipment 

  • Toxic chemicals 

  • Fuel 

  • Waste 

  • Broken glass 

When an object that falls off the truck is solid, such as a brick or metal beam, it can hit other vehicles on the road. When debris is liquid, such as fuel, it can spill onto the road, making the road conditions slick and slippery.   

Liability for Objects Falling from a Commercial Truck

Liability for an accident in which debris or objects fall off of a truck depends on multiple factors, including who had the responsibility to load and secure the cargo, whether the truck driver is employed by a trucking company, and others. In most cases, one or several of the following parties may be deemed liable when an accident is caused by falling objects: 

  • The truck driver. The driver of the commercial truck may be to blame for the accident in which an object falls off of the truck. Regardless of who was responsible for loading the truck and securing the cargo, truck drivers have an obligation to perform regular checks of their cargo and drive safely to avoid cargo shifting and spilling.  

  • The trucking company. In many cases, the trucking company may assume liability for damages resulting from accidents caused by falling objects under the theory of “vicarious liability,” even in cases where it was not responsible for loading the cargo.  

  • The loading company. In many cases, the trucking company and loading company are two separate entities, which means the latter could be held liable if it can be proven that its personnel failed to load or secure the cargo on the truck in accordance with applicable regulations and safety rules.  

  • The manufacturer of the truck. The manufacturer of the truck may assume some level of liability when it can be proven that the accident occurred due to defects in the vehicle. However, the trucking company may also share the blame if it fails to detect problems with the vehicle through regular inspections and maintenance.  

Proving negligence after accidents that result in objects falling off of a commercial truck can be a daunting task without the assistance of a skilled attorney who would conduct a thorough investigation, gather the necessary evidence, and handle communications with the other parties and the insurance company on your behalf.  

The Regulations to Secure Cargo in the Trucking Industry 

The determination of liability for an accident caused by falling objects often requires investigating whether the driver, trucking company, and loading company complied with the applicable regulations created and enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). There are strict requirements on how to properly secure cargo on commercial trucks. These requirements vary depending on the type of cargo and may involve the use of appropriately spaced and sized tie-down securement systems.   

The FMCSA also regulates how truck drivers should inspect the cargo before the trip and throughout the trip. When an accident occurs because of a party’s failure to follow the FMCSA regulations, the non-compliant party can be held liable for the resulting damages and losses.   

Rely on My Experience 

Accidents that involve objects falling off of commercial trucks can lead to life-altering injuries. However, it may not be immediately apparent who is liable for an accident caused by falling objects without conducting an in-depth investigation. As an attorney at Rodman Law Office, I can give your case the care and attention it deserves. If you need help, you can rely on my 30-plus years of experience. Contact my office today for a case review.