Improperly Secured Load Injuries in Arizona
What Are Your Legal Options After an Improperly Secured Load Accident
Many drivers instinctively avoid large trucks in general, especially those with heavy loads. In certain situations, simply avoiding trucks isn’t possible. This can become dangerous if the truck is driving with an improperly secured load. When cargo, tools, and other materials fall off a truck, the driver(s) behind them are put at risk of property damage and bodily harm. Unsecured loads cause about 51,000 car accidents per year in the United States, resulting in about 10,000 injuries. Unfortunately, tracking down the culpable party and getting their insurance company to pay up can be difficult. If you’ve been injured in a traffic accident caused by an improperly secured load, you may benefit from legal counsel from an experienced personal injury attorney. To schedule your free phone consultation with a member of our Mesa personal injury team, call 480-470-1504.
What is an Improperly Secured Load?
People don’t always take the proper care when driving large materials, and there’s a chance you’ll see an improperly secured load while driving in the next 24 hours. An improperly secured load could be a relatively small item common in Arizona households, like a mattress or a Christmas tree. You may see landscapers or other contractors driving with equipment hanging out of the back of their trucks that looks like it’s about to fall out onto the street. Furniture and other large items could fly out of moving and trash trucks if not properly secured. Large trucks hauling freight-sized loads have nearly countless ways they could potentially fail to secure a load. In general, if an item large enough to cause a hazard falls out of a vehicle, it was an improperly secured load.
Arizona Revised Statute Section 28-1098 & Civil Penalties
A.R.S. § 28-1098 makes it illegal to drive with an improperly secured load in Arizona. It also makes it illegal to drop, sift, leak, etc., any of a vehicle’s load on an Arizona highway. There are exceptions for sand dropped to create traction, water to clean, and minor stems and leaves from agricultural loads. So what exactly does A.R.S. § 28-1098 require of drivers with secured loads? While driving with a vehicle load in Arizona, the load and any covering on the load must be “securely fastened in a manner to prevent the covering or load from becoming loose, detached, or in any manner a hazard to other users of the highway.” This can be charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor in Arizona. For the first violation in a five-year period, the driver will be fined a maximum of $250. For a second violation within a five-year period, the driver will be fined a maximum of $350. If a violation of A.R.S. § 28-1098 results in a serious injury, there is a maximum civil penalty of $500- however, the victim can sue for their damages which could be exponentially more than $500. If a violation of A.R.S. § 28-1098 results in someone’s death, the maximum civil penalty is $1,000. Again, the wrongful death claim here would not be limited to $1,000 and would undoubtedly far exceed this amount.
Potential Damages After an Improperly Secured Load Injury
Some of the damages you can pursue in a personal injury claim are economic or have a clear financial value that can be calculated. Other damages, or noneconomic damages, are more subjective and based on personal factors and special circumstances. Economic damages in a personal injury claim include:
- Doctors, hospitals, surgery, and any other medical expense
- Wages lost due to missing work, whether due to the accident or if ordered to complete bed rest by a doctor
- Lost earning potential- serious injuries and disabilities can diminish someone’s capacity to advance in certain career paths.
- Future medical expenses you can expect to incur due to long-term or permanent injuries or disabilities
While the other party may try to deny that some of your expenses are unnecessary or your projected economic damages are too high, they are still far less subjective than noneconomic damages. Examples of noneconomic damages include:
- Loss of consortium or companionship, which represents the damage a serious injury can cause to a relationship, especially a marital relationship
- Intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress- This damage is almost impossible to collect without a physical injury. The name of the damage is fairly self-explanatory, as it is a penalty to the defendant for causing the plaintiff stress and trauma
- Pain and suffering- This is the major noneconomic damage in personal injury claims, and oftentimes insurance companies will settle all noneconomic damages under the title of “pain and suffering.” Pain and suffering can be a contentious issue in personal injury claims because of how much it can be worth. The most common way to estimate pain and suffering damages is by multiplying economic damages by a number between 1 and 5. More serious injuries are assigned a higher multiplier.
Comparative Negligence in Improperly Secured Load Cases
While some states use the doctrine of contributory negligence, Arizona is a comparative negligence state. The statutory language describing comparative negligence in Arizona can be found in A.R.S. § 12-2501. In a comparative negligence state, an accident victim can collect compensation even if they were partially at fault in creating the accident. Some states may limit at which percentage of fault the plaintiff can still pursue a claim, but Arizona allows a plaintiff up to 99% at fault to seek compensation in a personal injury suit.
There are several ways someone could be partially for an accident caused by another driver’s improperly secured load. The injured driver could be speeding or following too closely behind the load-bearing vehicle. If someone fails to use their headlights or otherwise has reduced visibility while driving, this could also make them partially at fault for an improperly secured load accident for failure to mitigate damages.
Comparative negligence could be a major strategy that the other driver’s insurance company uses to try to reduce your injury award. If your damages are high, increasing your fault by just a few percentage points could save them thousands of dollars. Consider hiring a personal insurance attorney to work to secure your position as an injury claimant, preserving your claim’s value.
Arizona Personal Injury Attorneys To Help You Get the Most Out of Your Claim
If you’ve been injured by an improperly secured load, it’s possible that at least one of the potential defendants in your claim could be a large company with the resources to hire top-level attorneys. While most claims settle out of court, you need an attorney who can both convince the insurance company to agree to a settlement that’s favorable for the accident victim and take a claim all the way to trial if a settlement can’t be reached. At Mesa Injury Lawyers, our attorneys have the knowledge and skills it takes to achieve all of this and more. We also offer our services with a guaranteed rate of 25%, which we do to maintain fairness for the client. Many of our competitors could take a third or more of your injury award. Learn more about the benefits of going with our firm, and ask any questions you may have about the claims process, by scheduling your free consultation with our firm- call 480-470-1504 to get started today.