Warm weather often prompts people to climb into the open cargo areas of pickup trucks and go for a ride. Unfortunately, such moments of seasonal indiscretion often end with fatal truck accidents. Why? Cargo areas are specifically designed to carry goods, not pets or people. Consequently, they do not feature air bags, restraints, covers or seating adequate enough to protect living, breathing passengers from harm. As a result, any number of common situations could instantly turn fatal. The list of situations includes, but isn’t confined to quick stops, rapid acceleration, powerful wind shear, rollovers and fender benders.
Despite those risks, there are many state government bodies that choose not to impose pickup truck use restrictions on their citizenry. So although it is certainly life-threatening and foolish, allowing people to ride in open cargo areas is not always illegal.
California Law Expressly Forbids Passengers in Cargo Beds
California Law, however, expresses states that: “A vehicle operator shall not allow a person to ride upon any part of a vehicle that is not designed or intended for passenger use. (Veh. Code §21712(a)) No person shall ride on vehicle or upon any part of a vehicle that is not designed or intended for passenger use. (Veh. Code §21712(b)) No person driving a pickup truck or flatbed motor truck shall transport a person in or on the back thereof unless the passenger is restrained by a Federally approved restraint system. (Veh. Code §23116(a) and (c)) No person shall ride in or on the back of a pickup truck or flatbed motortruck unless they are restrained by a Federally approved restraint system. (Veh. Code §23116(b) and (c)).
Who is at fault if a cargo bed passenger is injured
This brings us to an interesting gray area of truck accident law. For example, let’s say that someone jumps into the bed of a pickup truck and during a sudden stop falls out onto the roadway into the path oncoming traffic. After the fall, the person is then run over by another vehicle and dies. Who is responsible for the fatality?
Is it the truck driver, the injured or deceased passenger, or one of the other motor vehicle operators that is to blame? How the court sees the fatal truck accident will be partially influenced by the state’s publicized riding restrictions and the victim’s age. Some states have restrictions that are very clear regarding who is liable in the event of truck accidents. Other riding restrictions are open to interpretation. Therefore, motor vehicle operators who cause fatal truck accidents are sometimes able to avoid civil or criminal prosecution.
To find out more about how blame is assigned in these types of truck accidents, please contact us today.