Hauling cargo is an important job in the trucking industry. According to statistics, the United States has averaged more than 11 billion tons of hauled cargo per year over the past several years. This cargo includes items that Americans depend on for their survival, including food products, oil, manufacturing and industrial supplies, and household products.
While hauling cargo is an important function, things do not always go as planned. Shifting cargo presents an immediate hazard and an emergency for truckers. Cargo shifts play a major role in many truck accidents across the United States, and the results can be catastrophic.
If you or a loved one have been hurt in a commercial truck crash, the possibility of a cargo shift must be investigated as a potential cause of the accident. With more than $2 billion in recoveries for injured victims, our national truck accident attorneys at Burg Simpson can help when you have been hurt in a truck crash.
A commercial truck by itself weighs about 26,000 pounds, or about 5 times the weight of a large passenger pickup truck. With a full load of cargo, the truck’s weight may triple to over 75,000 pounds. The maximum allowable weight for a fully loaded truck is 80,000 pounds. A sudden cargo shift can cause the truck’s weight to become imbalanced, leading to a rollover crash.
Further, cargo shifting may result in a spill, causing tons of materials to be strewn across the road. This poses a hazard to both the trucker and all other drivers. Some cargo spills can result in hazardous materials, such as oil, gasoline, and chemicals being released from a contained environment causing a potential contamination and explosion hazard.
While the amount of weight that a truck can carry is determined by federal law, overall weight is only one factor in load shifting. The weight of the truck must also be evenly distributed across its axles. Uneven distribution of weight can lead to a disastrous collision.
Every state has weigh stations set up along its highways. These weigh stations are designed to ensure that a truck has not exceeded the permissible weight limit. An overloaded truck can easily cause a driver to lose control. Furthermore, trucks that are too heavy may cause damage to infrastructure, including roads and bridges.
When an overweight truck is discovered, the driver may be issued a citation, or the truck may be held until it is in compliance with the weight limit laws.
While cargo shifting is undoubtedly dangerous, it can have several possible causes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established rules related to the loading and transportation of cargo. The FMCSA rules generally state that a truck’s cargo must be fully secured and immobilized by a structure of adequate strength. More specifically, articles that are likely to shift during travel must be placed in direct contact with each other and tied down according to certain standards based on the weight of the shipment.
Improperly loaded cargo is a common cause of many common cargo shifting accidents. Cargo that is not loaded in compliance with FMCSA standards can roll or shift, leading to a major collision.
Another common cause of a cargo shift is improperly secured cargo. Material that is not properly secured or tied down using the appropriate equipment and materials poses a risk of shifting. Trucks must be inspected to ensure that the cargo securement system is sufficient to handle prescribed minimum forces.
A sudden cargo shift can disrupt the overall weight distribution of the truck over the axles. This can then cause problems in the operation of the truck, including steering, braking, and shifting.
The cause of a truck accident, and a cargo shift accident, can be difficult to pinpoint. A thorough investigation must be completed in order to determine how the accident occurred and who should be held responsible.
A truck driver must carefully inspect their truck in order to ensure that the cargo is safely secured and is not in danger of shifting. If the cargo was poorly secured, the driver could be held liable for a cargo shift accident. If the driver is liable, their trucking company may also be liable under the doctrine of vicarious liability.
The shipper of the goods may also be responsible. If the cargo was loaded onto the truck before the driver could inspect it, the shipping company could be legally liable for an accident.
It is important to have a national truck accident lawyer look over the facts of your case in order to identify all potentially responsible parties.
The aftermath of a cargo-shifting accident can be devastating. Victims may suffer serious injuries, including:
The consequences of a cargo shift accident are often life-altering. It is important to ensure that injured victims are able to make a full and complete recovery. This involves undertaking a full investigation of the accident and holding the appropriate parties responsible for their actions.
Your future could be at stake, and your legal rights deserve to be protected. Here at Burg Simpson, our national truck accident attorneys will hold the appropriate parties accountable for a cargo-shifting accident. Whether the trucker, their employer, the shipping company, or some other entity is responsible, we are here for you. Our attorneys bring many years of skills and experience to truck accident claims.
Our firm is standing by to speak with you at any time. We always offer free consultations and case evaluations for all potential and prospective clients. Your time to act could be limited. Waiting to take action could result in the loss of your legal rights.
There is no financial obligation until we obtain a recovery on your behalf. To schedule your free appointment with one of our attorneys, please reach out to us using our online intake form or give us a call at (866) 695-2112.