Both national and international companies depend on tractor-trailers to keep their goods moving between markets. Since tractor-trailers are engaged in interstate commerce, federal law governs much of their activity. One of the many aspects of tractor-trailer activity that federal law governs is the method by which drivers and other individuals secure the loads they are transporting. When the goods that tractor-trailers are carrying are improperly secured, the driver may lose control of the truck, causing a devastating accident.
What sorts of regulations are in place regarding truck cargo? There are several regulations that state how tie-downs, anchor points, and other restraints are used.
Cargo must be prevented from rolling, and methods used to stop rolling must be secure and not at risk of coming undone. Other guidelines dictate how the cargo must be laid out in the trailer of the truck.
Additionally, federal guidelines delineate the number of restraints that must be used for certain types of loads, as well as the types of restraints that must be used for various commodities, such as logs, concrete pipe, and other specific items.
When cargo is improperly loaded and an accident results, both the truck driver and the trucking company may be liable for damages.
Examples of improperly loaded cargo
There are a variety of ways that cargo may be improperly loaded in a commercial truck. These include:
- Excessive weight: the cargo clearly exceeds established weight limits imposed by state or federal law, which prevents trucks from braking in a timely manner and causes wear and tear to the truck’s brakes.
- Uneven distribution: the cargo is not distributed evenly throughout the trailer, which makes rollover accidents more likely.
- Poor restraints: the cargo is not properly secured.
- Incorrect handling of hazardous material: failing to transport flammable liquids, toxic chemicals, and other similar items in proper containers can have fatal consequences.
When individuals try to take shortcuts on loading cargo, they may cost other drivers their lives.
Proving cargo was not loaded properly
Members of law enforcement will begin an investigation after an accident happens. The police officers will take photographs of the truck’s cargo. Skilled trucking accident attorneys will be able to examine these photographs and determine if cargo was properly loaded.
Certain types of accidents are also more likely to be caused by improperly loaded cargo. Rollover accidents and jackknifing are common when the weight in a truck is improperly distributed.
Liability for accidents
Truck drivers have a duty to inspect their cargo before they begin driving. They may be liable for improperly loaded cargo, even if they did not put it in the trailer. Truck drivers and the companies they work for may be liable for accidents caused by improperly loaded cargo.
Contact our truck accident attorneys today
The personal injury attorneys at Stein & Shulman have over four decades of combined experience and have handled numerous trucking accidents. To schedule your free consultation to discuss your legal options, call 312-422-0500 today.