Who is Liable for a Collision Caused by Objects Falling from Vehicles?

car transporting mattress on roofEvery driver has had small rocks or flying road debris hit his or her windshield. The resulting damage is typically minor and often covered by auto insurance. But what if you encounter a much larger object in the road, such as one that fell off another vehicle? If the object was not properly loaded or secured, who can be held liable for the damage? Is there any way to avoid falling objects?

These concerns are valid and highlight the importance of understanding your rights in this situation. Larger, heavier objects that fall onto the roadway can cause significant vehicle damage and serious injuries.

If you have suffered damages in a crash, we recommend reaching out to our automobile accident attorneys based in Oshkosh for legal help. We are prepared to determine your eligibility for compensation during an initial consultation at no cost to you. There is also no obligation after this meeting to hire our firm.

Have Legal Questions? Call (877) 888-5201

General Liability for Damages

Generally, if an object falls from another vehicle on the road and hits your vehicle, it is likely that the item was not properly secured. In that instance, you would have a claim against the driver and/or person who improperly secured the load.

In addition to pursuing the party that may have been negligent, you could pursue damages through your own insurer. If you have collision coverage – which is optional in Wisconsin – it will pay for physical damage to your vehicle caused by your vehicle colliding with an object. Collision coverage will pay to repair your vehicle, but you are limited by the lesser of the cost to repair or your vehicle’s value prior to the crash.

It is important to know what your auto insurance does and does not cover, regardless of fault.

Negligence Securing the Load

Negligence can lead to serious accidents. A driver who fails to secure an object properly or at all because he or she thought it would be too heavy to fall off may be deemed negligent. Loose or unsecured objects (i.e. furniture, appliances and tools) can cause great damage, especially at a high rate of speed.

Under Wisconsin law, all drivers operating a vehicle on the highway have an obligation to secure any load in such a way to prevent its contents from falling, sifting or otherwise escaping from the vehicle. The driver responsible for that load could be held liable in the event his or her load causes a crash.

To file a legal claim for compensation, you must be able to prove that the object fell because of negligence. Working with an experienced attorney can be beneficial in these situations. If your claim has merit, your attorney may be able to help you prove the following:

  • The driver carrying the object had a duty to protect others on the road from harm by securing and preventing the object from falling
  • The driver breached his or her duty by not securing the object
  • This breach in duty directly resulted in the collision
  • You sustained damages in the collision caused by the fallen object

Do Motorists Have a Duty to Avoid Falling Objects?

Motorists have a duty to other drivers to operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner.  Part of this duty is to lookout for surroundings and possible dangers. A driver does not have a duty to take precautions to avoid falling objects caused by the vehicle in front of them unless there was some warning that the load was in danger of falling and the motorist had enough time to react. If the motorist was not following too closely, it was out of his or her control.

How to Stay Safe While on the Road

Drivers who carry objects, equipment, etc. must do everything possible to safely secure their load while on the road. This includes taking one or more of the following measures:

  • Covering the load with secured tarps
  • Using thick road and vehicle straps
  • Not overloading the vehicle
  • Checking the load during stops

You can also help minimize your risk of being in a collision – including those involving falling objects – by using defensive driving techniques. Examples include:

  • Staying alert at all times for potential road hazards
  • Paying attention to the road and slowing down if you see debris
  • Keeping a safe following distance to make necessary evasive maneuvers
  • Checking for blind spots before making any lane changes
  • Leaving enough space on one the side of your vehicle in case you need to swerve

Contact an Attorney for Legal Help

If you have been injured in a collision caused by a negligent driver, an attorney at Sigman Janssen is here to help. Proving negligence can be difficult, but we are prepared to help.

Our firm offers free consultations at no risk or legal obligation to you. We do not charge any upfront fees to retain our services and no fees if while we investigate and work a case on your behalf.

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