Given the sheer weight of commercial trucks and their travel speeds, most accidents involving trucks are often catastrophic. To prevent such crashes, trucking drivers and their employers must adhere to specific load securement regulations.
Unfortunately, most trucking companies ignore these rules and improperly load and secure freight. That can be dangerous, as the shifting load can cause the truck to veer or lose control, causing accidents that result in serious injuries to other motorists.
If you, your relative, or someone you know has been injured in an improperly loaded truck accident, contact Attorney Jeff Injury Lawyers. Our truck accident lawyers are experienced and knowledgeable and can leverage their expertise to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your damages.
How Do Truck Accidents Happen from Improperly Secured Cargo?
Because of the significant amount of loads moving across the US daily, loading and securing the recommended amount of freight is critical. Typically, that’s the driver’s responsibility because poorly loaded cargo can cause catastrophic crashes and property damage to other motorists. Unsecured loads can shift laterally, causing a truck to swerve, overturn, and cause cargo to fall off, causing road safety issues that can have devastating effects.
Unsecured overweight cargo in semi-trucks and trailers usually presents the following problems:
- Overweight cargo in the trailer increases the chances of the truck axle breakage, leading to loss of control and potentially causing a crash
- Load securement regulations restrict the weight of commercial trucks to 80,000 lbs. Thus, any additional weight on an already massive and heavy trailer makes it difficult for the driver to steer and control the truck, particularly during inclement weather, such as snow, rain, and strong winds.
- Extra weight from overloading places too much strain on the brakes and may result in potentially catastrophic brake failure.
- The heavier the trailer, the more braking distance is needed to stop the truck. Suppose the truck driver is following another car closely; in that case, the trailer’s weight and the short distance between the vehicles limit the driver’s ability to stop the truck or perform evasive maneuvers, leading to a serious rear-end collision.
- Additional unsecured cargo increases the trailer’s weight, increasing the likelihood of tripping during sharp turns.
Federal Load Securement Regulations
Because of the dangers posed by overweight trucks and unsecured freight in trailers, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) established a series of comprehensive cargo loading and securement regulations. According to these rules:
- Truck drivers must inspect in-transit cargo every 50 miles to ensure it’s secure. Afterward, they must check the load at 150-mile intervals (whenever practical), particularly when moving liquids, as this type of load is prone to shifting and moving within a container during transportation.
- Drivers must secure truck loads using high-quality webbing, steel straps, chain straps, or other recommended fastening options.
- Drivers must deploy inflatable bags to fill empty spaces between loads to ensure the cargo is tightly packed and prevent load shifts on semi trucks.
These are only a few crucial FMCSA load securement rules, but regardless of the cargo being transported, drivers, trucking companies, and other logistics entities involved must adhere to these rules. Failure to adhere to these regulations can result in serious accidents and injuries, in which case they may be liable for the crash.
Who’s Liable for an Improperly Loaded Truck Accident?
Every party involved in loading and securing cargo in a trailer or semi-truck is required to follow FMCSA load securement rules and procedures. In most cases, that includes the truck driver, trucking company, and any other party that interacts with the load. Therefore, multiple parties may be liable for a truck accident due to improperly secured freight and are legally required to compensate the accident victims for their injuries and property damages.
Any hauling company that doesn’t adequately train its employees on the loading, securing, fastening, or weight and leverage procedures might be liable if an accident occurs. While the people or entities involved in the initial loading process are considered responsible when an accident occurs, the driver must inspect the freight periodically to ensure it’s secure during transportation.
Even after loading and securing cargo in the trailer, as per FMCSA regulations, load displacement and shifting may occur and cause accidents. In some cases, lateral cargo shifts may be due to the failure of load-fastening devices, such as webbing, anchors, bungee cords, tie-down straps, or steel chain straps.
If a quality assessment is conducted and it’s determined that the accident occurred because of security device failure, the product manufacturer or retailer is liable for the accident. Subsequently, a product liability claim can be filed against them, so they may adequately compensate the crash victims.
How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help?
If you’re injured by an improperly loaded truck, a lawyer can handle the personal injury claim process to secure your compensation as you focus on your recovery. After the initial case review, your attorney will investigate the incident details to prepare a solid case.
Most cases involving truck accidents get settled out of court, but even if the case goes to trial, an attorney can file a lawsuit and spearhead the litigation process. However the case gets settled, a personal injury lawyer will vehemently fight on your behalf to ensure you receive compensation for economic and non-economic damages.
Call Us If Spilled Truck Cargo Caused Your Accident
If you’re involved in a truck accident in California, partner with Attorney Jeff Injury Lawyers as soon as possible. Our lead attorney, Jeff Fayngor, and his team of injury lawyers, are experienced and knowledgeable litigators. We’re your trusted law firm when you need us the most. Contact our offices today to schedule a free case evaluation for your truck accident claim in California.