Commercial trucking is a major industry in America. As of 2022, it is estimated that more than 11 million commercial vehicles are on the roadways in the United States. These vehicles perform essential functions of carrying valuable cargo from one location to another in order to support industries that sustain our economy. Without commercial trucking in its current form, the country would likely look very different and our way of life would be drastically changed.
With the large number of trucks and commercial vehicles also comes the potential for serious traffic accidents. Each day, hundreds of tractor-trailers are involved in collisions on our nation’s streets and highways. These accidents can lead to serious and life-altering injuries for victims.
When a tractor-trailer crash takes place, it must be closely investigated in order to determine the cause. One frequent cause of a commercial vehicle accident is shifting cargo. A loaded semi-truck accident can easily occur when cargo has not been properly loaded. In this article, we will discuss some of the rules surrounding cargo loading and what rights individuals have when they have been the victim of a cargo-shifting truck accident.
If you are in need of legal assistance following a truck accident, our national truck accident lawyers at Burg Simpson are here to help you at any time.
According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, cargo shifting is among the main causes of commercial vehicle accidents in the United States. The results of a cargo shift accident can be devastating, leading to serious personal injuries, damaged property, loss of cargo, and even death.
When they are fully loaded, a semi-truck may weigh up to 80,000 pounds. It is easy to imagine how a crash can lead to very serious consequences for those involved. In most cases, a cargo shifting accident is preventable when the cargo is properly loaded.
The FMCSA has implemented a variety of rules regarding the securement and loading of cargo. Ultimately, these rules are designed to evenly and correctly distribute the weight of cargo across the various axles of the truck. Having a properly distributed weight helps to ensure that freight does not move during transit causing instability and potentially loss of control of the truck.
Truck drivers have a duty to ensure that their trucks are properly loaded and should be aware of any unusual behavior of their trucks while in transit.
The FMCSA regulations clearly place the burden of proper loading on truckers. Truckers must supervise the loading process and verify that the cargo has been properly placed inside the truck. When a load shift accident occurs, a truck driver faces legal liability if they knew or should have known that improperly loaded cargo was present in their truck.
Additionally, trucking companies may also bear responsibility for a load shift crash. Under the legal principle of respondeat superior, the company is responsible for the negligent acts of its employees. Therefore, if an individual truck driver was negligent during the loading process the trucking company could also be held vicariously liable.
FMCSA regulations do not cover consignors, consignees, or third parties who are responsible for shipping and receiving cargo. However, this does not mean that third parties can also not be liable for load-shift accidents. In many cases, the shipper themselves is responsible for loading the truck.
One way to determine whether the truck was loaded by the shipper is to check the bill of lading that comes with the goods. If the bill of lading notes SLC, or Shipper Load and County, then the shipper loaded the truck. As such, they may face legal liability in the event of improper loading that leads to a cargo shift accident.
Being involved in a cargo-shifting accident can easily lead to catastrophic injuries. An improperly loaded truck is an extreme danger to all other motorists on the roadway. When a truck loses control, it can lead to a serious head-on collision, a sideswipe accident, or a rollover crash, among other things. Occupants of passenger motor vehicles are the most likely to be affected by cargo shifting accidents, although truckers are also at an increased risk of serious injury or death.
Some common injuries sustained in rollover crashes include:
If you or a family member were hurt in a load-shifting collision, you should protect yourself right away. You may have valuable legal rights and should seek compensation for your injuries, including your lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and potentially more.
Trucking companies often try to deny liability in the aftermath of a serious accident. Obtaining and preserving valuable evidence is the key to successfully pursuing a liability claim. Due to various limitations, it is important to act as soon as possible in order to preserve the integrity of your case.
Here at Burg Simpson, we provide aggressive representation for truck accident victims. We know the dangers caused by improperly loaded cargo and we understand the devastation that can be caused by a load-shifting accident. Our lawyers have years of experience fighting for the rights of innocent victims.
Speaking with an attorney at the soonest possible time is important. The truck insurance company may want you to take a quick settlement and resolve your claim right away. This is often not to your benefit and there are many other factors to be considered, such as your quality of life and the cost of future medical treatment.
Our team is here to take your call at any time. We always provide a free consultation and case evaluation for all potential and prospective clients. There is no financial obligation until we obtain a recovery. To schedule your time to speak with a national truck crash attorney, please reach out to us at the link on our website or give us a call at 888-895-2080.