Unsecured Cargo Liability Law in Florida on WTVT-TV, Fox 13
Attorney Betsey Herd Discusses Legal Liability, Live on the News with TV Anchor Russell Rhodes
Vehicle-to-vehicle collisions aren’t the only cause of catastrophic accidents on the road. Drivers are also at risk of injury and damage to their vehicles when unsecured cargo slips from another vehicle, whether it be a kayak paddle flying off a roof rack, or larger objects tumbling from a commercial carrier’s bed. Accidents like this do happen, often causing damage or creating hazards that block roads and involve multiple cars in additional crashes, fender benders, and pileups. Those who stop to help – whether civilians or first responders – might also be at risk. Because the conditions in unsecured cargo accidents are unlike those of “normal” collisions, drivers often don’t know their rights, who might be paying for medical bills and other damages, or how to respond.
Driver Liability and Insurance Law in Florida
In the state of Florida, there is currently no requirement that a non-commercial driver have “bodily injury” coverage. “Full coverage” includes only coverage for property damage, and personal injury – that means injury to the driver, but doesn’t extend to anyone else potentially involved in an accident. There are two bills pending in the Florida legislature that could change this, but as the law currently stands, you might find yourself injured in an accident involving unsecured cargo, and be surprised to learn that the negligent driver’s insurance will cover your broken windshield, but not your broken bones. Some policies, however, will include bodily injury coverage. The police report will tell you whether the driver whose unsecured cargo caused the accident has this bodily injury coverage.
If a commercial vehicle caused the accident, the driver or company is required under Florida law to carry bodily injury coverage. In addition, a 2002 amendment to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act, and further requirements set in 2004, specified precautions commercial cargo carriers must take to secure goods in transit. An experienced motor vehicle accident attorney will be familiar with these requirement, and can help you understand the driver’s or company’s liability in your case.
Steps to Take in an Unsecured Cargo Accident
If you’ve suffered bodily or property damages because of an accident involving unsecured cargo, your first step, after seeking immediate medical treatment, should be to call your insurance carrier and report the incident. Then, because of the complications of liability law for damages from unsecured cargo, you should call an auto accident attorney in Florida to discuss your situation and your options.
In contrast with most vehicle-to-vehicle collisions, an accident caused by unsecured cargo might leave you shocked, possibly injured, and unsure of the source of the damage. The negligent driver might flee the scene and continue down the road; or, especially in the case of commercial cargo carriers, the driver might not be aware that anything has happened. In these cases, you will need to find eyewitnesses, and hope that one caught a plate or company number, or other distinctive features of the vehicle that caused the damage.
At Morgenstern & Herd, PLLC, we’ve handled many motor vehicle cases involving damages from unsecured cargo. We know exactly what information you need, will help you find it, and can call in experts if necessary, speeding up the process and alleviating your concerns about recovery.
Unsecured Cargo Accident Law Takeaways
- Drive safely and be aware of road conditions. Try to keep at least two car lengths behind any moving vehicles. Increase this distance at high speeds, and behind large cargo vehicles.
- Your health comes first. If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, your priority is your health. Seek immediate medical treatment. Once you know that you’re going to get the care you need, you can deal with police, insurance, lawyers, and other concerns as they come.
- Get as much information as possible after any auto accident. No matter the type of accident or type of vehicles involved, you should try to record as much information as possible before leaving the scene. Exchange insurance information with the other driver, identify witnesses and get their contact information, and, if possible, take pictures of the scene. Even writing down a bullet-point summary of the events that led to and followed the accident could help later.
- Seek experienced legal counsel. Driver liability law in Florida is not a straightforward affair. If you’ve been involved in an accident, you’ll be seeking to recover damages from insurance companies whose business model is based on giving you as little money as possible. You’ll want experienced attorneys on your side. Call the Tampa office of Morgenstern & Herd today to set up a free consultation