Failure To Secure Cargo Trucking Accident
A trucking accident can cause devastating consequences when they are involved in an accident because trucks are monstrous in size and weight. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), the gross vehicle weight of a commercial truck can reach up to 80,000 pounds, and the cargo carried by trucks in Tennessee and other parts of the United States can weigh tens of thousands of pounds. When cargo is not properly secured, it can fall from the truck onto the road or shift inside the vehicle, changing its center of gravity and causing it to overturn. A failure to secure cargo trucking accident can result in severe injuries and fatalities. When a person is injured in a truck accident caused by someone else's negligence or carelessness, that person might be entitled to compensation for any resulting losses and damages. The trucking accident attorneys at Labrum Law help victims injured in improperly secured cargo accidents to determine liability and obtain the compensation needed to move forward with their lives. Call (615) 338-9500 to schedule a consultation.
Why Is It Important to Properly Secure Cargo?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the loading and securing of cargo on commercial vehicles. The importance of adequately securing cargo cannot be overstated. Improperly secured cargo can shift inside the trailer, which can drastically affect the handling of the vehicle. A truck driver may lose control of the truck. In extreme cases, the truck may overturn when performing certain maneuvers. Even if the improperly secured cargo does not shift the truck's balance, it could fall or spill onto the roadway, becoming a road hazard for other drivers. Federal law, therefore, imposes cargo securement requirements to minimize the risk of a failure to secure cargo trucking accident.
Dangers of Improperly Secured Cargo
Some of the dangers associated with failure to secure cargo include:
- Cargo falling onto other vehicles—When cargo is not secured in compliance with federal regulations, it can fall onto other vehicles that share the road with the truck.
- Cargo becoming road debris—Even if the cargo does not hit another vehicle on the road, it can become road debris, obstructing the roadway and increasing the risk of collisions caused when vehicles swerve to avoid the debris.
- Cargo shifting during transport—A truck must be properly balanced to ensure safe operation. If cargo is not properly secured, however, it can shift inside the truck and increase the risk of a rollover accident.
Failure to properly secure cargo poses a number of dangers to all those who share the road with the truck. Improperly secured cargo can contribute to devastating injuries and preventable deaths.
Types of Trucking Accidents Caused by Failure to Secure Cargo
When cargo is not secured properly, a failure to secure cargo trucking accident can occur. There are several types of trucking accidents that can result from improperly secured cargo, including:
- Jackknife accidents—When a truck's cargo is not balanced properly, the cargo can cause the trailer to swing from side to side, increasing the risk of a jackknife accident. As the name implies, jackknifing refers to the folding of the two separate parts of the truck like a pocketknife.
- Rollover accidents—When the weight of improperly secured cargo shifts inside a truck, it can cause the vehicle to roll over onto its side or roof.
- Falling cargo—When transported cargo is or becomes loose, it can fall onto other vehicles and injure vehicle occupants or fall onto the roadway and become a road hazard.
- Spilled hazardous materials (HAZMAT)—HAZMAT spills can result in fires or explosions and may pose a threat to everyone at the scene of the accident.
What Are the FMCSA Cargo Securement Requirements?
As mentioned earlier, the FMCSA created regulations for cargo securement and loading. The general requirement is to ensure that truck cargo is secure to prevent a failure to secure cargo trucking accident. If a driver, trucking company, or loading company fails to properly secure cargo, an accident is likely to happen. In particular, the Driver's Handbook on Cargo Securement, published by the FMCSA, requires the following:
- Cargo weight must be properly and evenly distributed to prevent shifting
- Cargo must be properly secured using the required number of tie-downs and other cargo securing equipment
- Truck cargo should not obstruct the driver's view of the road (ahead, left, and right)
- Cargo must not interfere with the free movement of the truck driver's legs or arms
The handbook contains specific requirements for securing equipment that must be used for different types of cargo. Securing equipment includes hooks, ropes, straps, chains, bracing, and others. At Labrum Law, our experienced truck accident attorneys help victims of trucking accidents establish fault and determine if the applicable federal and state regulations were followed by the truck driver and trucking company.
When Should Truck Drivers Inspect Cargo?
Truck drivers have an obligation to inspect cargo not only before embarking on a trip but also during the trip. Periodic inspection of cargo is required to make sure that the cargo is secure throughout the trip. If necessary, the truck driver must use additional securing equipment to properly secure cargo during the trip. Failure to inspect cargo in compliance with federal regulations increases the risk of a preventable trucking accident.
When inspecting cargo, truck drivers must ensure that the cargo is secure and that all securing equipment is in place and in good condition. In the event of damage to any securing devices, the truck driver must notify the carrier and replace the damaged devices before continuing to drive. Drivers must conduct such inspections:
- Before beginning to drive
- Within the first 50 miles after loading cargo
- Once every 150 miles and/or three hours, whichever occurs first
- Before each shift
Who Can Be Responsible for a Failure to Secure Cargo Trucking Accident?
Determining liability for a failure to secure cargo trucking accident can be complicated because liability for the crash depends on a wide range of factors. Depending on the facts of the accident, the following parties may be held responsible for failing to secure cargo:
- Truck driver—Truck drivers have an obligation to inspect cargo before and during the trip.
- Trucking company—A trucking company could be liable if its negligence contributed to the accident. In addition, trucking companies who employ truck drivers can be held responsible for the negligent acts of their employees under the legal theory respondeat superior.
- Cargo loading company—If a truck accident was the result of improper loading of cargo due to negligence on the part of the loading company, that company could be held liable for the resulting damages and losses.
- Securing equipment or truck manufacturer—Some truck accidents occur as a result of defective securing equipment or defects in the truck. When that is the case, the accident victim could sue the manufacturer of the equipment or truck.
Contact a Skilled Truck Accident Attorney for Help
Each case is unique, which is why a thorough investigation may be necessary to determine liability for a failure to secure cargo trucking accident. At Labrum Law, our truck accident attorneys help victims of trucking accidents throughout Tennessee. We assist clients with obtaining the compensation to which they are entitled. Call (615) 338-9500 to speak with an experienced attorney about the potential liability in your accident case.