Improperly loaded cargo in a commercial truck is a hidden danger on the road. Other drivers cannot anticipate problems with the truck’s load, and nor should they have to. One of the most preventable causes of accidents is improperly or poorly loaded cargo. The weight of a loaded commercial truck can be up to 80,000 pounds. This colossal weight must be evenly distributed through careful placement of the cargo to avoid imbalance, unsteadiness and resulting truck rollovers or jackknifes. If the cargo is not properly secured, it may shift while in transit and throw off the balance of the truck, resulting in an accident.
Rollovers occur when a truck’s center of gravity is thrown off. This may result from excessive speed, a sharp turn and load instability. There is a vast potential for serious injury when an accident involves a trusecck rollover, particularly if the truck is transporting dangerous or explosive chemicals. Jackknifing occurs when the trailer off-tracks and swings out. This means the two separate parts of the tractor-trailer – the trailer and the cab – are not longer moving in the same direction. This kind of accident also usually proves disastrous for the truck and other drivers on the road.
Who is Responsible for Cargo Placement?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) outlines rules regarding cargo and specifically how it must be secured in the Driver’s Handbook on Cargo Securement. The driver and the trucking company are responsible for the safe loading of cargo, unless the cargo is in a locked trailer to which the driver has no access. According to the FMCSA, the driver must inspect the cargo before transporting it to ensure it is within the legal weight, is safely loaded and sufficiently secured. If an accident results from the cargo being incorrectly loaded, the driver and the trucking company may be held responsible for injuries or damage caused to anyone involved in the accident.
Issues can arise from cargo being improperly loaded, overloaded, poorly secured and/or not secured at all. When an accident is caused by issues with cargo securement, the truck driver may try to deflect responsibility by saying there was another cause. Police officers must conduct a thorough and immediate investigation including photo documentation of the cargo placement to determine if cargo issues may have caused the accident. Hiring an experienced trucking lawyer will ensure this detailed process is conducted quickly while the evidence is still available. The Trucking Attorneys are familiar with tactics sometimes used by truck drivers and trucking companies to alter evidence so fault cannot be linked to them, and our attorneys have access to experts who can analyze the accident scene to determine if negligence was the cause of the wreck.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident that may have been caused by improperly loaded cargo, please contact us today for a free consultation. One of our skilled attorneys will listen to the details of your case and explain your legal rights and options.