In Miami, the Perazzo Law Firm understands truck accidents and why they occur regularly along Florida highways and roadways.
From the image, it’s easy to imagine what happened when wooden pallets crashed into the overpass along Interstate 75. Though most overhead clearances can be as high as 16 feet high, some individuals negligently exceed the maximum height for Florida roadway overpasses and bridges. When this happens, motor vehicle accidents are practically inevitable.
The owner of the pickup truck in the photo, obviously did not take into consideration the height at which the pallets were stacked or check the established height of the roadway signs along I-75.
Oversized loads and poorly stacked cargo by operators lead to a high number of accidents when underpasses and hanging signs are struck by these vehicles. By raising or replacing low hanging signs, trucking accidents could be reduced. Again, only if truck owners and operators avoid acting negligently by ignoring safety regulations set by the Federal Highways Administration, which sets bridge clearances at 14-16 feet. Interstate bridges possess a maximum height just over 13 feet. This presents a major concern for those operating RV’s, some of which may have solar panels or other accessories atop the roof that can strike a roadway sign, leading to flying debris that can hit another moving vehicle. Such accidents can end in tragedy on highways where cars or motorcycles are travelling at high speeds.
The Federal Highway Commission is aiming to modify existing highway clearances by increasing the height of underpasses and ramp bridges to accommodate transport vehicles and RVs. However, increasing the clearance distance is useless if those loading and transporting cargo fail to abide by the specified height, and other dimensions, that make it safe to transports goods.
In an attempt to reduce the number of collisions with overpasses, bridges, and highways signs, the Florida Department of Transportation is aiming to raise bridge clearances to 16 feet, 6 inches. At present, overpasses and ramp bridges along I-95 stand over 16 feet in height, offering ample distance for transport vehicle to pass safely under them. However, this distance must be respected by trucking companies and private vehicles hauling cargo stacked beyond this limit.
Falling cargo causes serious injuries to other motorists and passengers when it finds its way off the truck while in motion. This happens regularly along roadways across the United States. Sometimes, fallen cargo can cause vehicles to make sudden maneuvers which lead to collisions with other vehicles, or sometimes, vehicles are struck by fallen objects. In one such incident, a metal beam became unfastened and slid off the back of the truck carrying it and struck the windshield of the vehicle traveling behind. The metal beam crashed through the windshield and struck the driver in the chest, killing him instantly. An action such as this can be legally considered an act of negligence by the vehicle operator or owner and followed by a wrongful death lawsuit by the victim’s family.
There are specific guidelines in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) concerning how cargo must be secured to prevent falling off the back of trucks. Some of the most common cause of fallen cargo may include the following:
- Over Stacking. Trucking companies or truck owners try to save money by lowering the number of trips they make and maximize savings on fuel and wages to drivers. To do this, they often stack cargo too high, and this could cause it to fall off or collide with low hanging overpasses or bridges.
- Poor weight distribution. Evenly distributing the weight of the cargo is fundamental to preventing it wobble or tip over, sometimes sliding off the sides of the truck transporting the cargo. Poorly distributed cargo can sometimes cause the vehicle to swerve and lose control. Swerving out of control can cause any loose or poorly fastened cargo to make its way off the transport vehicle. See this video of a pick-up truck losing control as its cargo of wrecked vehicle swerves along U.S. 301 in Bradenton, Florida. In this footage by an Instagram user, the cargo was shedding scrap metal onto the roadway, which could have easily led to an accident or damage to other vehicles driving along side the out of control load.
- Improperly securing the cargo. The cargo must be properly secured and inspected before the vehicle takes to the roadways. This is the responsibility of the shipping or trucking company. Though the driver may not necessarily, he or she should should check to see if the cargo is properly fastened and secured in order to prevent an accident resulting from poorly fastened cargo.
- Poor restraints. The condition of tie-downs, metal straps, harnesses, or anything used to fasten cargo, must be in good condition, free of wear and tear, cuts, cracks, etc.. The weight and friction of sharp cargo, such as metal or rough objects can cut fasteners. Any worn restraints must be replaced by the trucking companies to prevent cargo from falling off flatbeds.
- Adverse weather conditions. Strong winds can play a major part in accidents where cargo loads find their way onto roadways. Not all goods being transported consist of heavy cargo. Light objects, sometimes stored in crates or boxes, can make their way out of their respective containers and swept up by heavy wind.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A TRUCK ACCIDENT IN MIAMI-DADE & BROWARD
- Do not give a statement.
- Do not move or let anyone move you, or your car, unless there is a threat of further injury. Do not leave until the for the paramedics and the police arrive.
- Seek medical care and give a complete description of all injuries immediately following the car accident.
- If no injuries are visible, take pictures of all damage to the vehicles involved in the accident (and photograph the VIN and license plate for identification)
- Photograph injuries (any cuts, bruises, burns) and any part of the body caused by the accident.
- Collect the trucking company’s insurance information to aid in the payment process for any treatment or losses.
- Contact your insurance provider to inform of the trucking accident (your car insurance mandates contacting them right after the accident. otherwise, your claim may be jeopardized).
- Visit your family doctor for a follow-up.
- Contact the Perazzo Law Firm as soon as possible.
Perazzo Law Shares the Different Types of Cargo and Their Insurance Minimums?
Trucking Companies are abide by law to meet insurance coverage minimum according to the type of freight they transport. Some of these may include:
- Non-hazardous cargo for vehicles weighing less than 10001 lbs. with a minimum coverage limit of $300,000
- Non-hazardous cargo for vehicles weighing more than 10001 lbs. with a minimum coverage limit of $750,000
- Oil transported by public or private transporters with a minimum coverage of $1,000,000
- Other hazardous materials by private operators or companies with a minimum coverage of $5,000,000
Perazzo Law Shares Types of Insurance Policies for Heavy Cargo Vehicles:
- Primary Liability which may cost $5,000 – $7000 and protect operators/owners when at fault for an accident.
- General Liability which may cost $400 – $600 and protects against non-collision when found liable.
- Umbrella Policy which may cost $500-$700 and provide added coverage when the policy has gaps.
- Physical Damage which may cost $2500-$3000, depending on the value of cargo and vehicle. This policy covers repairs to the owner’s truck as a result of a collision, theft, vandalism, etc.
- Bobtail Insurance Coverage may cost $375-$600 and covers the owners tractor when not hitched to the trailer.
- Uninsured Motorist can cost from $75-$100 and covers damages when the truck is involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist.
- Occupational Accident (cost TBD) covers independent contractors and serves to provide workers with compensation for accidents taking place while on the job.
- Vehicle Cargo Coverage (cost TBD) covers the value of the cargo if damaged or lost as a result of an accident.
- Terminal Coverage serves to cover loss or damage to cargo at terminals within a set time-frame for specific loads.
- Warehouse Legal coverage helps to protect goods stored while awaiting to be transported.
Contact Perazzo Law Online or call (786) LAWS-411 for a FREE consultation if you, a friend, or relative has been injured in a Trucking Accident in Miami-Dade or Broward County Cities and Suburbs. See CITIES WE SERVE.