The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets specific regulations for loading, securing, and inspecting cargo. When a truck driver violates these regulations, they can be liable for an accident. If you were injured in an improperly loaded truck accident, you are entitled to compensation. Do not bear the pain and cost of a truck carrier’s negligence alone. A semi-truck accident attorney can help.
For help proving liability and fighting for the highest compensation award possible, call a truck accident lawyer from Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., L.P.A.
What does cargo securement entail?
Regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) require truck carriers and their drivers to make sure their cargo is secure. If a driver does not correctly secure their cargo, an accident is likely.
According to the Driver’s Handbook on Cargo Securement, drivers and truck carriers must follow detailed rules when securing cargo for highway transportation. In general, these rules state that:
- Drivers must properly distribute cargo
- Drivers must properly secure cargo
- Drivers must secure all tailgates, doors, spare tires, and any other equipment
- Cargo must not obstruct the driver’s view
- Cargo must not prevent the driver from freely moving arms or legs
Drivers should use securing devices like rope, straps, chains, hooks, binders, winches, bracing, and even friction mats when loading cargo onto their trucks.
In addition to these general rules, there are special rules and loading requirements for hauling:
- Lumber and other building materials
- Metal coils
- Paper rolls weighing over 5000 pounds
- Concrete pipes
- Intermodal containers, such as containers that can be transferred from train to truck
- Flattened or crushed vehicles
- Heavy equipment and machinery such as bulldozers and tractors
- Large rocks and boulders
Violations of these requirements could lead to accident liability.
When must drivers inspect cargo?
It is not enough to simply inspect cargo before starting to drive for the day. Truck drivers must also periodically inspect their cargo to ensure that it remains secure. If a driver fails to inspect cargo as FMCSA requires, they may be liable for any accidents resulting from lost cargo.
Drivers must inspect their trucks and verify that all cargo is secure and that all securing devices are in good condition. Drivers must replace any broken or damaged securing devices and notify the carrier before starting the trip. Furthermore, if the banding is loose or asymmetrical, drivers or carriers must make adjustments before they can safely drive their trucks.
Drivers must make inspections:
- Before starting a trip
- At least once within the first 50 miles of the trip.
- Any time the duty status of the driver changes
- At each three-hour interval or every 150 miles, whichever comes first
If upon inspection, the driver notices that the cargo is not secure, they must make adjustments to the cargo and the securing devices. If needed, the driver must add additional securing devices before returning to the road.
What can happen if cargo is not secure?
If the driver does not properly secure cargo, serious accidents can occur, especially when the cargo itself is dangerous.
Many different types of accidents can occur from improperly loaded cargo, but perhaps the most obvious is cargo shifting and falling off of the truck. If this happens, the cargo could fall either directly onto another vehicle or onto the road, where many drivers may be unable to stop in time to avoid crashing into the cargo.
Heavy items like construction machinery or equipment can cause serious life-threatening damage to other drivers on the road. Rolling items, such as logs, piping, or concrete tubes can roll down a highway, causing accidents with multiple vehicles.
Loose cargo can do more than just fall off of a truck. For improperly secured chemicals or other liquid cargo, the constant jostling from loose bindings could result in broken or cracked containers leading to leaks or spills. These liquids, especially hazardous chemicals, can be extremely dangerous for others on the road or even in neighboring communities.
Improperly loaded cargo can also cause rollovers, jackknives, and sideswiping accidents.
Improperly secured cargo could shift to one side of the truck and cause a rollover.
Improperly loaded or unsecured cargo could cause a truck to jackknife. If the truck jackknifes, the trailer could swing and hit cars in any lane or crush nearby cars to the cab.
Shifting cargo could cause a driver to lose control and swerve into other lanes, hitting unsuspecting motorists in adjacent cars.
The driver could also crash if they loaded cargo in a way that makes them unable to see.
What should I do if I was in a truck accident caused by improperly loaded cargo?
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a truck accident caused by improper cargo loading, you may be entitled to compensation. However, proving improper loading can be difficult.
Our attorneys regularly work with accident reconstructionists and truck experts to establish causation in accidents. We have experience gathering and preserving evidence, managing truck claims, and negotiating with trucking companies and their insurers.
We would love the opportunity to do the same for you. Do not let a truck driver’s negligence ruin your life.
Contact Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co. L.P.A. today at 419-843-6663 for help securing compensation.