Accidents involving large commercial trucks, such as semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, or 18-wheelers typically result in catastrophic injuries and even fatalities. While an independent investigation is often needed to determine the actual cause of a trucking accident, in many cases the trucking accident is the result of unsecured cargo or the overloading of cargo within the trailer of the commercial truck. Learn how a trucking accident attorney at Fletcher Law Office can conduct an independent investigation into your unsecured cargo or overloaded truck accident, and how you can receive compensation for your injuries and losses.
Federal Regulations for Trucking Cargo
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict regulations regarding the loading and securement of cargo within large commercial trucks. If a truck driver, trucking company, or loading company fails to follow these specific federal regulations, the result may be a disastrous accident. Specifically, FMCSA Regulation Section 392.9 provides detailed instructions regarding how cargo must be loaded and secured within a large commercial truck. These guidelines are critical, as many large trucks carry not only substantial amounts of weight and volume but in many cases, they also contain hazardous or toxic materials. There are specific regulations regarding the loading and securement of specific types of cargo including metal coils, boulders, lumber, heavy machinery, pipes, shipping containers, paper rolls, liquids, and hazardous/toxic chemicals. Failure to properly follow safety precautions under federal law regarding the loading and securement of cargo can result in severe injuries and fatalities.
Dangers of Unsecured Cargo
When cargo remains unsecured in large commercial trucks, it can easily shift during transit, causing the truck to jackknife or tip over on the roadways. An investigation into a trucking accident can determine if the accident was caused by unsecured cargo. A trucking accident investigation can determine the following:
- Were the cargo straps and/or fasteners appropriate for the type of cargo carried?
- Were the straps or fasteners weakened due to age or overuse?
- Did the truck driver, trucking company, or cargo loading company use the correct amount of cargo straps and/or fasteners required under federal regulations, or fail to use any at all?
- Were the cargo straps and/or fasteners faulty due to a manufacturing defect? Were they on a recall notice of any kind?
Unsecured cargo in large trucks can cause truck drivers additional difficulty with maneuvering, braking, or operating the vehicle resulting in an increased risk of accidents on the roadways.
Dangers of Overloaded Cargo
Truck drivers and trucking companies feel intense pressure to move large amounts of cargo over great distances in short periods. Deadlines are often unrealistic and the more cargo a truck driver or trucking company moves, the more profit they receive. Unfortunately, this may lead to a truck driver or trucking company making the decision to overload a truck past the federal guidelines, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries. Some of the reasons overloaded cargo within large commercial trucks causes accidents include the following:
Inability to Stop Safely
Logistically speaking, an overloaded commercial truck simply takes more time to stop. As a result, the truck driver may fail to correctly judge the proper distance to stop or fail to safely maneuver the large truck on the roadway. Overloaded trucks take longer to come to a full stop, and when an overloaded truck travels down an incline it may prove impossible to stop the substantial amount of weight the truck carries in a safe amount of time.
Increased Risk of Mechanical Failures
With so much additional weight and pressure placed on the truck, there is also an increased risk of mechanical failures. A commercial truck’s tires, brakes, and axel can only absorb so much weight before failing. Tire blowouts, brake failures, and broken axels are common occurrences when trucks are overloaded with cargo.
Determination of Liability and Compensation for Your Injuries and Losses
If you suffered injuries and losses resulting from a trucking accident, visiting with a trucking accident attorney can help you determine the cause of the accident and who has the legal responsibility to compensate you for your medical bills, property damage lost wages, and pain and suffering. The determination of liability in trucking accident causes often proves to be legally complex and challenging as many reasons could cause a trucking accident and evidence must be immediately preserved to ensure that a victim has the legal foundation upon which to build a strong personal injury claim.
Following an independent investigation into the trucking accident, a determination can be made whether or not the accident resulted from either unsecured cargo, improperly secured cargo, or overloading of cargo within the commercial truck. Once this determination occurs, a victim may have the legal right to hold the following persons and/or entities responsible:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Cargo loading company
- Manufacturer or retailer of a defective/faulty cargo strap or fastener
However, it is important to note that an independent investigation may also determine that another factor caused the trucking accident, which causes other entities to have a responsibility to compensate a victim for injuries and losses. Visiting with a trucking accident attorney at Fletcher Law Office can help you understand how an independent investigation can be conducted in your trucking accident case and you may have the legal right to pursue compensation from different responsible persons or entities for your injuries and losses.
How a Trucking Accident Attorney Can Help You
In most cases, the determination of the cause of a trucking accident requires an independent investigation, consultation with expert witnesses (including accident reconstruction experts), and the experience handling trucking accident cases. Our trucking accident attorneys at Fletcher Law Office welcome the opportunity to help you build a personal injury case to receive the compensation and justice you deserve following your unsecured cargo or overloaded truck accident. Visit with us today either online through our immediate chat service available on our website, or contact us by phone at (816) 631-2868 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.