Lost Load Accidents: Filing a Claim After a Spill on the Highway in Pennsylvania

March 22, 2024

When a truck loses its load on the highway, traffic can get backed up for miles, and the spill will often make the evening news. But, for drivers and passengers in the truck’s vicinity at the time of the spill, the consequences can be far more severe. Lost load accidents often leave drivers and passengers with serious injuries, and these injuries can have financial and non-financial consequences for years to come.

Protecting Your Legal Rights After a Lost Load Accident in Pennsylvania

Like all truck accidents in Pennsylvania, following lost load accidents, injured drivers and passengers will often be entitled to just compensation. Generally speaking, these accidents should not happen. Trucking companies and other businesses have a legal duty to ensure that their loads are safe—and if they fail to do so, they can (and should) be held accountable. This is true for all types of lost load accidents, including those involving:

  • 18-wheelers
  • Car haulers
  • Dump trucks
  • Flatbed and specialty trailers
  • Fuel trucks
  • Tanker trucks
  • Trash trucks

But, even if a trucking company or other business is clearly responsible for failing to properly secure a truck’s load, recovering just compensation still requires proof of liability. With this in mind, if you have been seriously injured in a lost load accident, there are some important steps you should take promptly, including:

1. Hiring a Law Firm to Investigate Your Lost Load Accident

Determining the specific reason why the truck lost its load is critical for proving your legal rights. Depending on the circumstances involved, various companies could be liable, and you need to make sure you file your claim (or claims) against the right company (or companies) in order to recover just compensation.

Gathering the evidence needed to prove your legal rights requires a thorough investigation. When you hire a law firm to represent you, your law firm will be able to send an investigator to the crash site and obtain all relevant records from the company that owns or operates the truck. Based on this evidence, your law firm will be able to determine the next steps required to recover your accident-related losses.

2. Preserving as Much Evidence as Possible

In addition to hiring a law firm to investigate your lost load accident, you should also try to preserve as much evidence as possible. For example, you should take photos of your vehicle (if you can), and you should try to make sure your vehicle doesn’t get repaired until the damage has been thoroughly documented. Even if your insurance company sends an adjuster to take photos of your vehicle, you should not rely on these photos for your claim. Your insurance company will be acting with its best interests in mind (not yours), and, simply put, your adjuster might not do a thorough job.

Along with preserving evidence of the damage to your vehicle, you should preserve any other evidence you have in your possession as well (i.e., photos from the accident scene or damaged personal items). It is also a good idea to take detailed notes while the accident is still fresh in your mind.

3. Beginning to Document Your Accident-Related Losses

Along with evidence of the cause of the accident, you will also need evidence of how much you are entitled to recover. With this in mind, you will want to get into the habit of documenting your accident-related losses. Keep your medical bills and receipts, keep your employment records if you miss time from work, and write down all of the ways your injuries impact your life on a daily basis.

Common Factors in Commercial Truck Accidents Involving Lost Loads

When you hire a law firm to investigate your lost load accident, your law firm will examine all possible causal factors in order to determine what claim (or claims) to file on your behalf. Some examples of potential grounds to file a claim after a commercial truck accident involving a lost load include:   

Failing to Properly Secure Truck Cargo

Failing to properly secure truck cargo is among the most common causes of lost load accidents. If a truck’s cargo is not firmly strapped down, even small movements and vibrations can cause the cargo to come loose and spill or fall into the road.

Failing to Properly Pressurize Liquid Cargo

Spills involving fuel and other liquid cargo often result from improper pressurization. When a tanker truck’s liquid cargo has not been properly pressurized, this can either lead directly to a leak or cause a rollover that results in a major spill.  

Failing to Secure Bed Covers, Liftgates and Tailgates

Failing to secure bed covers, liftgates and tailgates can also lead to lost load accidents. Dump trucks, garbage trucks, box trucks and various other types of commercial trucks have bed covers, liftgates and tailgates that must be properly secured in order to prevent spilling the truck’s cargo on the road.

Using Unsafe Tiedowns, Chains or Other Means of Securing Cargo

Tiedowns, chains and other means of securing cargo are all designed for use in specific circumstances, and they are all rated to withstand certain amounts of load. Over time, wear and tear can reduce their strength, and can eventually lead to failure. Using insufficient, improper, old and unmaintained means of securing cargo are all common causes of lost load accidents as well.

Negligent Truck Driving or Operation

Finally, even when a truck’s cargo has been properly secured or pressurized, negligent truck driving or operation can still result in a lost load. When a truck driver is responsible for causing a lost load accident, the driver’s employer will typically be responsible for victims’ injury-related losses.

Discuss Your Lost Load Accident Case in Pennsylvania with a Lawyer for Free

If you need to learn about your legal rights after a lost load accident in Pennsylvania, we encourage you to contact us right away. To discuss your case with an experienced lawyer in confidence, call 888-777-7098 or request a free consultation online today.