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Accidents Due to Improper Loading

Semi-trucks and large commercial vehicles transport an estimated 11 billion tons of cargo every year. The massive amount of freight that moves across the country every day ensures that we can shop, buy food, and do business without difficulty. The drivers who transport this material are charged with properly loading and securing the freight to the truck. When a load shifts or falls off the vehicle because it was improperly loaded, the damage caused can be catastrophic.

Improper cargo loading accounts for hundreds of serious truck accidents every year. These accidents can occur in a variety of ways. For example, when a load is too top-heavy it can cause the entire truck to roll over. If the load is not secured tightly enough, it can fall off the truck and scatter across the roadway causing accidents. No matter what the reason, improper cargo loading is dangerous for everyone on the road.

Federal Guidelines Regulate Cargo Loads

Improper loading can cause the cargo to move or shift during transit. If the driver of the semi-truck takes a curve too fast, starts or stops suddenly, is speeding, or is driving over rough roads, the load can move and change positions.

When cargo loads shift in transit, the vehicle’s center of gravity changes and can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. If the truck overturns, it can cause serious injury both to the driver and anyone who happens to be nearby. For that reason, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has created a series of comprehensive rules and regulations regarding how cargo should be secured.

According to the FMCSA, truck drivers should check the cargo after driving for 50 miles to make sure that nothing has come loose. After that, drivers should check the cargo every 150 miles thereafter (whenever practical). This is especially important when a truck driver is transporting liquids. By their very nature, liquids will shift and move in transit while inside their containers. No matter how tightly a driver secures the load to the truck, traveling with liquids will eventually loosen the fastenings holding the load down.

Truck loads must be tied down with a number of items, including webbing, steel straps, and other types of fasteners. Drivers should also use inflatable bags to fill up empty spaces between the cargo and keep it from sliding around on the truck. No matter what type of cargo is on the truck, the FMCSA has a rule that regulates how it should be transported.

Everyone Who Loads a Truck Can be Responsible

Federal law creates a non-transferable obligation to follow FMCSA safety regulations in every person who interacts with a vehicle’s cargo. While this would definitely include the truck’s driver, it also includes every person and company that interacts with that truck’s load. When a truck’s cargo is improperly loaded and causes an accident, there may be multiple people and entities who are legally responsible for paying damages to anyone injured.

For example, the trucking company for whom the driver works could be liable if the company failed to properly train the truck driver on how to fasten and secure the cargo properly. If other employees at the trucking company helped the driver secure the load, then the trucking company might also face some liability.

Additionally, shipping companies that hire the truck driver or trucking company could be responsible if their employees prepared the truck for shipment. While the driver is still responsible for periodically checking the cargo and ensuring that it is secured, the people who initially loaded the cargo might face liability if an accident occurs shortly after the driver begins the trip.

Get Experienced Help After a Truck Cargo Accident

If a tractor trailer or big rig causes an accident due to improper cargo securement, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable Miami truck accident attorney. It can be difficult to tell when a truck’s cargo comes unmoored due to negligence on the part of the truck driver or whomever loaded the truck. Unless an accident victim actually sees the doors of a trailer fly open, or observes unsecured cargo straps flapping in the wind, then it can be difficult to prove negligence without a thorough investigation by an experienced personal injury attorney.

If you were injured by improperly secured cargo on a semi-truck, contact the personal injury attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. today. We offer free initial consultations, and work on a contingent fee basis with no up-front costs to you. Contact our office today and schedule your appointment by calling (877) 475-2905 or (305) 371-6000.

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