Should the Minimum Insurance Requirements for Trucks Be Raised?
Posted in: Truck Accidents
KNR Legal Blog
If you’ve ever been on an Ohio roadway, there’s a good chance you’ve driven behind a truck with its bed overflowing with construction materials like plywood, metal scraps, and more. Or maybe you’ve seen a vehicle with a mattress haphazardly strapped to the top.
Cars and trucks carrying unsecured loads are a safety risk, as they can cause accidents leading to serious injury or death. However, a new law in Ohio passed in March 2022 will enforce harsher penalties for driving with an unsecured load.
Unsecured load accidents in Ohio can be dangerous for all drivers on the road, especially at freeway speeds. In 2020, NBC News 5 in Cleveland investigated recent Ohio Highway Patrol Crash data and found nearly 7,000 crashes caused by objects like ladders, furniture, and wood pieces falling off the backs of trucks and cars. In those crashes, over 700 were injured, and six people were killed.
Trucks can also carry unsecured loads of chemicals or other hazardous materials, which can pose a major risk to the health of other drivers and the environment.
When truck drivers fail to secure their loads properly, several things can go wrong. An unsecured load can result from:
If part of a truck’s load becomes dislodged and falls onto the road, oncoming drivers may hit the object and damage their vehicle. They may also swerve to avoid the object and hit another car or fixed structure.
Loose cargo such as a tarp can be torn free by wind and become stuck on another driver’s windshield and block their view of the road, causing an accident.
Flying objects can break a following car’s windshield, injuring the driver or incapacitating them at the wheel.
Because unsecured load accidents often happen at high speeds on busy highways, they can cause traumatic or even fatal injuries such as:
Previously, Ohio’s penalties for having an unsecured load were among the least severe in the country. The offense was a minor misdemeanor with no jail time. However, the new law raised penalties to make them more commensurate with the harm an unsecured load accident can cause.
House Bill 27 increased fines for unsecured loads from $150 up to $500 and increased criminal penalties, which could carry a fine of up to $2,500 and up to 60 days in jail if physical or property damage occurred.
Proving fault in unsecured load truck accidents in Ohio can be challenging. In most cases, the truck driver is responsible for securing the cargo before getting on the road and can be held liable for any injuries or damage caused by their negligence — especially if the driver has been previously cited for violating the law.
However, proving liability can become complicated if the driver was employed by a trucking company or a third party loaded the truck.
Regardless of what they are hauling, truck drivers are responsible for making sure the loads on their vehicles are properly secured. If you were injured in an unsecured load truck accident in Ohio, contact a truck accident lawyer to help you hold the responsible parties liable and recover the damages you deserve.