Unsecured Cargo Accidents
Trucking Accident Lawyers Handling Improperly Loaded Truck Cases
There are many causes of truck accidents, but unsecured cargo is among the most dangerous. A fully loaded semi truck can carry tens of thousands of pounds of cargo. If this cargo is not secured properly, it can get loose and fall onto the road, endangering other motorists as well as pedestrians. In some cases, improperly secured cargo can even cause a truck to become involved in a devastating and dangerous collision.
If you or a loved one was hurt in an accident caused by an overturned truck or any other type of collision involving a big rig, you should know about your legal rights. Federal regulations require truck drivers to secure cargo carefully. Contact a Houston truck accident attorney at Arnold & Itkin right away for effective, knowledgeable counsel.
Statistics on Unsecured Cargo Accidents
According to a 2004 survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA), more than 25,000 motor vehicle accidents are caused by unsecured cargo every year. This is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has established regulations for allowable weight limits for truck cargo as well as proper procedures for securing that cargo. To help enforce these regulations, weigh stations and truck scales are dispersed along America's highways. Here, law enforcement officials can ensure that truck drivers adhere to applicable commercial trucking regulations.
Some examples of accidents that can be caused by improperly secured cargo include:
- Overturn accidents
- Jackknife accidents
- Hazardous materials spills
- Accidents caused by spilled cargo
One of the most common types of accidents caused by improperly loaded trucks is overturning. When a truck is attempting to make a turn, it may be thrown off balance by loose cargo in its trailer. When the load shifts, the weight of the truck is no longer evenly distributed, which makes it more likely to turn over.
Hazardous Cargo & Truck Accidents
Truckers responsible for carrying hazardous cargo must be even more careful when loading. Accidents involving these trucks can be even more dangerous, as a hazardous materials spill off of a truck and onto the highway may present a heightened risk of fire or explosion, potentially endangering other motorists and even nearby communities.
Commercial vehicle drivers must be specially licensed if they wish to operate trucks that carry hazardous materials. These truckers have to pass specific skills test in order to show that they understand the proper safety procedures involved in carrying hazardous materials. Even with these safety precautions in place, however, trucks carrying hazardous materials still cause roadway collisions.
One major reason why the NHTSA has established load weight limits is that heavy loads can impair a driver's ability to brake quickly. The heavier the load, the longer it can take a commercial vehicle to come to a complete stop. If a truck driver slams on the brakes suddenly, the driver risks having the load shift in such a way that the truck jackknifes or tips over onto the road. A jackknife accident is an accident in which the cab of the truck remains parallel with the road, while the trailer loses control and is dragged perpendicular to the road, so that the cab is facing the opposite direction of the trailer. The trailer can wipe out surrounding passenger vehicles in the process. Jackknife accidents are all too common and can cause serious injuries and even death for surrounding motorists.
Accidents Caused by Loose Cargo
When cargo is not secured inside a trailer, but rather on top of a flatbed, there is an increased risk of the cargo flying onto the road in the event of an accident. Bungees or strong tethers typically secure cargo onto flatbed trucks. If a trucker uses tethers that have been worn down by prolonged use or sun damage, the ropes could break and cause cargo to spill onto the highway. Debris on highways can either fly off of a truck bed and cause direct damage to a vehicle, or fall onto the road and present a traffic barrier that vehicles must swerve to avoid. Both scenarios are dangerous and can result in serious collisions.
Injured in a Truck Accident? Take Legal Action!
If you were injured in an accident caused by unsecured / improperly secured cargo, then you may be able to take legal action. Contact Arnold & Itkin to speak with one of our experienced Texas truck injury attorneys about your case. We frequently assist victims of commercial truck accidents so that they can secure maximum compensation for their injuries and other damages. Possible liable parties can include the truck driver, the trucking company, mechanic shop, or even an outside manufacturer of a truck equipment part.
Reach out to Arnold & Itkin at (888) 493-1629 to arrange a free review.