We’ve all seen a loaded truck, which appears as though it is about to spill the load across the roadway. These improperly loaded trucks can cause serious or even fatal injuries, when unsecured cargo spills across the roadway. A twenty-pound object, traveling at 55 mph hits with the force of 1,000 pounds at the time of the impact. Consider the impact of an even heavier object, which flies off a loaded trailer.
Loading, shipping, and hauling companies specialize in transporting specific types of products. They are responsible for the loading and unloading of cargo on large commercial trucks. If a trucking accident occurs as a result of negligently loaded cargo, the shipping company may be responsible for at least a portion of the damages caused by the accident.
Liability for the Truck Driver as Well?
It is not unusual for a commercial truck’s cargo to be improperly loaded or loosely secured. In some instances, improperly loaded cargo can cause a weight imbalance, which can lead to an accident. If the cargo is not properly secured, it can shift or spill to the ground causing multi-car accidents. Sadly, the majority of these types of incidents could be prevented if the truck driver had taken the time to double-check the load. Yet because most truck drivers are constantly in a rush, this crucial step may be skipped.
When Truck Cargo Shifts
All cargo will shift to some extent during transport when the driver turns, accelerates, or comes to a stop. The cargo transported by large commercial trucks must be loaded in a way that optimally distributes the weight to reduce road shift. There are a number of different ways in which a commercial truck’s cargo may be poorly secured, including:
- The truck’s cargo may be overweight despite FMCSA restrictions on how much weight a tractor-trailer can carry at any given time. An overloaded truck is at a much greater risk of being involved in an accident.
- The weight of the load can be unevenly distributed. This can cause braking difficulties or cause the truck to tip over.
- Some trucks carry hazardous materials, including highly flammable liquids, toxic chemicals and other volatile substances. In the event the tanker is not fully loaded, the liquids can begin to “slosh” back and forth, causing the truck to tip over.
- Cargo carried on a flatbed trailer must be properly secured. If it is not, the weight can shift suddenly, causing the restraints to be virtually useless.
When cargo falls completely clear of the 18-wheeler, the big truck may not even be involved in the ensuing accident—causing damage without sustaining any damage to the truck or truck driver. If the large truck swerves or brakes suddenly, because of falling cargo, multiple accidents can occur.
Strict Loading Laws Meant to Prevent Catastrophic Trucking Accidents
There are very strict federal and state loading laws, which, if not properly adhered to, can lead to such tragedies. Most states require that:
- Cargo is properly distributed
- Cargo is adequately secured
- Doors and tailgate securely fastened
- Compliance checks performed by truck drivers prior to driving on the roadways
- Rolling cargo properly restrained
- Tie-downs used properly to prevent cargo from loosening, unfastening, opening, or releasing while on the road.
Washington DC Trucking Accident Lawyers on Your Side
If you have been injured in a trucking accident in the Washington, DC metro area, Virginia, and throughout the State of Maryland, the trucking accident attorneys at Patrick Malone & Associates can help. We know that shipping companies often pack loads improperly, leading to catastrophic trucking accidents. When a shipping company is to blame, it can be difficult to establish a clear chain of liability. Our trucking accident lawyers work tirelessly from the start to secure the evidence needed to prove liability and maximize compensation for our clients. Call us at 1-202-742-1500 or 1-888-625-6635 or fill out our confidential contact form for a FREE Consultation and review of your case.
The trucking accident attorneys at Patrick Malone & Associates have successfully represented injured individuals in Washington, DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Annapolis, Rockville, Baltimore, Richmond, Fairfax, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and other locations throughout Maryland and Virginia.