Due to the serious accidents that improperly loaded cargo can cause, truck drivers must follow certain safety rules and requirements when loading cargo as well as perform safety inspections verifying that the cargo is secure.
At Montero Law Center, we are dedicated to protecting the legal rights and remedies of people injured in truck accidents. If you were injured due to improperly loaded cargo, contact us today to see how we can help.
Types of Accidents Caused By Improper Cargo Securement
Improperly loaded truck cargo can cause multiple different types of accidents, including:
- Road Debris Accidents: If drivers do not properly secure cargo or if the straps holding the cargo in place break, the items could fall off of the truck and hit other vehicles or fall directly into their path.
- Leaked Cargo: Even when drivers properly secure cargo, there can still be issues if someone loaded the containers improperly and damaged them, spills can result. Any leaked substance can create a danger for nearby drivers, but hazardous materials can cause long-term, far-reaching damage.
- Blind Spot Accidents: Trucks already have large blind spots, but if the driver loads cargo improperly, it can be almost impossible to see anything. If cargo blocks a driver’s vision, s/he can cause serious accidents while changing lanes.
- Rollover Accidents: Trucks have a high center of gravity. When drivers improperly load cargo, the truck is much more likely to rollover, especially during sharp turns or sudden change in speed.
- Sideswipe Accidents: If cargo shifts from one side of the truck to the other, the driver can easily lose control of the truck. When that happens, the truck could veer out of the lane into another car.
- Jackknife Accidents: If a driver does not load or secure cargo carefully, the truck could jackknife (when the cab stops but the trailer swings out, coming to rest at a 90 degree angle) when the driver has to stop quickly.
Cargo Securement Laws
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Driver’s Handbook on Cargo Securement details the proper securement methods that truck drivers must use. These rules state:
- Drivers must properly and evenly distribute cargo.
- Drivers must secure cargo with rope, binders, winches, straps, friction mats, or other proper devices.
- Cargo cannot obstruct the driver’s view.
- Cargo must not exceed weight limits.
- Cargo cannot prevent the driver from freely moving his arms or legs.
- Drivers must properly secure spare tires, tailgates, doors, and all other equipment.
Certain cargo items that are likely to move during transit, such as logs, metal coils, concrete pipes, automobiles, large rocks or boulders, and construction equipment, have special rules and regulations regarding securement.
Cargo Inspection Laws
FMCSA also enforces laws regarding cargo inspection. According to FMCSA, drivers must inspect their cargo:
- At the beginning of the driving shift
- At least once during the first 50 miles of the trip
- Every time the driver’s duty status changes (for example, when switching from driving to a lunch break)
- At least once during each 3-hour period or 150 miles traveled, whichever comes first
Upon inspection, if the driver discovers that the cargo has come loose or that the securement devices are damaged, s/he must make corrections before s/he can continue the trip. If the driver does not make these repairs and an accident results, s/he may be liable for any resulting injuries or property damage.
Liability for Cargo-Related Accidents
If truck drivers fail to properly secure their cargo or fail to complete the proper safety inspections, they will be liable for any accidents that result from cargo-related incidents.
However, in most cases, even if the driver is 100 percent at fault for the accident, you will not be holding him or her liable. Instead, you will hold the trucking company liable for your injuries.
This is due to a concept called vicarious liability which holds employers liable for the actions of their employees, given that the employees perform those actions within the scope of their employment.
Call Montero Law Center for Help in Fort Lauderdale
Holding a trucking company liable for an accident is very difficult. Our truck accident lawyers will work with you to build your case and help you gather vital pieces of evidence, including the truck driver’s safety and maintenance records. If a driver failed to perform the proper safety inspections, we will catch him or her.
If necessary, we will bring in truck experts to explain how the accident occurred and how properly loaded cargo could have stopped the accident from occurring. In short, we will do everything necessary to give you the best chance of success in your truck accident claim.
Contact Montero Law Center today for a free consultation. The sooner you call, the sooner we can help you get the compensation you deserve.-6500.