Truck Accidents Caused By Improperly Loaded Cargo

Truck accidents can cause devastating injuries and even death. Many truck accidents are caused by negligent truck drivers who are fatigued, texting while driving, or simply not paying attention to the road. Other truck accidents are caused because the cargo on the truck was not correctly loaded. When cargo is not properly loaded, a portion of the cargo can slide off the truck and collide with another vehicle or create a dangerous barrier on the highway. Multiple vehicle collisions can result when a truck blocks traffic on the road.

How Can Shifting Cargo Cause Truck Accidents

In other cases, cargo that is not adequately secured slides around the trailer, causing instability, and resulting in the truck flipping over while turning. If you have been injured in a truck accident caused by improperly loaded cargo, you may have a claim for compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has reported that improperly loaded cargo is a significant factor in many large truck crashes. In its Large Truck Crash Causation Study, the FMCSA determined that the relative risk for cargo shifting can be as high as 56.3%.

Trucking and Cargo Companies Have a Duty to Securely Load Cargo

Trucking companies and truck drivers must follow regulations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations require truck drivers and cargo companies to secure their cargo correctly. According to the Truck Driver's Handbook on cargo securement, truck drivers must follow detailed rules when they begin Highway transportation. Some of the requirements related to loading cargo include the following:

  • Properly distributing the cargo
  • Properly securing cargo
  • Securing all tailgates, spare tires, doors, and other equipment
  • Cargo must not obscure the truck driver's view
  • Cargo must not physically impede the truck driver from freely driving

Truck drivers should also secure all straps, chains, hooks, robes, wenches, and bracing when loading cargo onto their vehicles. There are additional special rules for loading cargo when it comes to loading;

  • Metal coils
  • Lumber and other building materials
  • Logs
  • Concrete pipes
  • Paper rolls weighing over 5,000 pounds
  • Automobiles
  • Flattened or crushed vehicles
  • Large rocks or boulders
  • Heavy equipment such as tractors and bulldozers
  • Intermodal containers, such as those transferred from trains to trucks
The Duty to Inspect Cargo

More than inspecting cargo is required to drive safely. Instead, truck drivers must periodically check their cargo when they make stops to ensure that it has remained secure. When drivers fail to properly secure cargo when it is initially loaded or fail to monitor the cargo continually, they can be held liable for any injuries that result. When drivers inspect their trucks, they need to verify that the load is secure and that these security devices are still in good condition.

If the driver notices any damaged or broken securing devices, they must notify their carrier before they start driving again. If they see any asymmetrical or loose banding, they must make adjustments before driving their truck safely. Truck drivers are required to make inspections of their cargo at all of the following points:

  • Before starting a trip
  • At least once within the first 50 miles of the trip
  • Any time the duty status of the driver changes
  • At every three-hour interval or at every 150 miles, whichever comes first

When the truck driver notices any problems with the cargo, they need to make adjustments before continuing the journey. When necessary, the driver must add new or additional security devices to make the car safe and secure before they start driving again.

Types of Accidents That Can Occur Due to Insecure Cargo

Loose cargo can be more damaging than simply falling off of a semi-truck. If the truck is carrying liquid cargo or chemicals, the jostling from loose findings could cause the containers to leak or spill on the road. Hazardous chemicals could expose others on the road to dangerous medical conditions or increase the risk of explosions or fires. Improperly loaded truck cargo can also cause jackknife, rollover, and sideswipe accidents. Additionally, shifting cargo can cause a driver to lose control of the truck, swerve into other lands, and collide with unsuspecting drivers.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation

Have you been injured in a truck accident caused by improperly loaded or secured cargo? If so, you may recover compensation from the truck driver, the trucking company, the cargo company, or another at-fault party. Contact the Charlotte personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, today to schedule your free case evaluation and learn more about your rights.

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