Liability for Crashes Due to Falling Objects From Other Vehicles
It is not uncommon for a passing pickup truck or other vehicle to throw a stone or other piece of road debris. However, what if a larger item falls onto your car and causes you to crash? Can you seek compensation for your injuries and other losses? Who could be liable and how do you prove who was negligent? At High Stakes Injury Law, we understand that you may have a lot of questions after this type of crash. Our qualified attorneys are ready to answer your questions and explain any legal steps you may be able to take. There is no cost or obligation to meet with one of the experienced Las Vegas-based car crash lawyers at our firm. If you hire our services, there are also no fees to pay us up front or throughout the legal process. We take injury cases on contingency, so we only get paid if we achieve a win for you.
Does Nevada Have a Secure Load Law?It is important to look at the state law for drivers carrying cargo to get a better understanding of liability for a crash with a falling object. Nevada’s secure load law, NRS 484D.850 says no individual is permitted to drive any vehicle with improperly secured cargo on any highway in the state. This means that cargo may only be carried if the load and any covering used is fastened securely. More specifically, the fastenings must be used in a way that prevents both the covering and the load from becoming loose, detached or a hazard in any way to others on the highway. This law not only applies to commercial vehicles. It also includes private drivers who load their vehicle with a large load, such as a household appliance, mattress, or even multiple smaller items. These drivers are required to:
- Make sure the vehicle is capable of handling the weight and size of the load
- Obtain the proper fasteners and coverings to secure the load
- Verify the fasteners and coverings are in good condition and used as intended
Who Can Be Liable for Crashes Due to a Falling Object?In general, a private driver is responsible if the load he or she is carrying is not properly secured and a crash results. If the falling object hits and damages your vehicle and causes you harm, you would likely have a valid claim against the driver carrying the cargo.
Can Others Be Liable for a Crash Due to an Object Falling From Another Vehicle?While it is most likely that the driver carrying the cargo will be liable, there are times when others may be at least partly to blame, such as:
ManufacturersA manufacturer could share partial or full liability for a crash if the fasteners failed to hold the load because they were defective in some way. However, it would be necessary to establish that the fasteners were used as the manufacturer intended and not visibly worn or damaged.
Commercial Company Failed to Secure the LoadWith commercial vehicles, another company or third party may have been responsible for loading the cargo. If the cargo was improperly loaded or the vehicle was overloaded according to regulations, the third party could share liability.
Could the Victim Hit By the Falling Object Share Liability?Possibly, but it depends on many factors leading up to the crash. While the driver carrying cargo owes a duty to prevent harm to others, it does not release others sharing the road from their own duty of care. Victims could be partially liable for a crash due to a falling object if they were:
- Driving too close to the vehicle carrying the cargo - Following any vehicle too closely could be considered aggressive driving, which is against the law in Nevada.
- Texting and driving - This or any type of distracted driving would limit a victim’s ability to react to a road hazard, such as an object falling from another vehicle.
- Impaired driving - Driving while fatigued or impaired by alcohol or other substances can impair a person’s ability to react to any road hazard, including a falling object.
How Can I Seek Compensation if a Falling Object From a Vehicle Caused My Crash?If you were injured in a crash due to a falling object, it is a good idea to discuss your recovery options with a licensed attorney as soon as possible. These types of claims are extremely complicated and difficult to prove. Seeking legal help could greatly benefit your claim and improve your chances for recovering full compensation for your damages. That said, crash victims may generally be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver for improperly securing his or her load. However, the victim, or his or her attorney, must be able to prove the other driver caused the crash and resulting damages.
Other Evidence That Could Help Prove Your Claim
- Seeking immediate medical care – This step is critical as it helps to link your injuries to the crash.
- Getting contact details of any witnesses who saw what happened
- Checking for any available dash cam or traffic cam footage that may have captured the accident
- Taking pictures of the crash scene and any damage if it is safe to do so
What if the Driver Does Not Remain at the Crash Scene?If the driver leaves the scene and you are unable to get a license plate or anything else that could help police identify the driver, you may still have options for recovering compensation through your own policy. For instance, if you have collision coverage or uninsured motorist coverage.
Is it Possible to Avoid a Crash With a Falling Object From Another Vehicle?It is not possible to avoid every crash from a falling object, however, you can reduce the risk of this happening by:
- Remaining focused on the road at all times
- Taking steps to safely pass a vehicle carrying cargo
- Slowing down and putting distance between your vehicle and an overloaded vehicle
- Pulling over to a road shoulder or other safe area and notifying police of the hazard