Imagine that you’re driving down the road and an unsecured object flies out of the back of a cargo truck in front of you. It can be an absolutely terrifying experience. Truck drivers are supposed to follow specific rules and regulations for properly securing transport cargo, because if they don’t, serious injury and damage can occur.
Cargo Load Accidents
If you’ve ever stood next to a semi-truck, you know just how big they are. The average truck stands 13 feet high with an average weight of 80,000 lbs. When cargo loads are added, they weigh even more.
These trucks already have a high center of gravity, so if they are not loaded or secured properly, the cargo could shift causing the truck jackknife or rollover. If truck loses control, or an unsecured load spills out of the truck, it can cause high speed obstacles to litter the road. These sorts of incidents can cause chaos and often result in serious injury and death.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), under the United States department of Transportation, is responsible for regulating and providing safety oversight of commercial motor vehicles. Anybody who operates a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce must comply.
The FMSCA publishes their rules and regulations on cargo securement in a handbook that is easily accessible on their website. The handbook provides truck drivers with the basic fundamentals and requirements of cargo securement. In addition, it provides detailed information on how to secure the most common types of cargo, including:
• Tree logs & packaged lumber
• Coils of rolled sheet metal
• Concrete Pipe
• Shipping & storage containers
• Automobiles, light trucks, & vans
• Flattened or crushed vehicles
• Heavy vehicles, equipment, & machinery
• Large Boulders
In general, the handbook states that no matter the type of cargo, it must be secured so that it does not:
• Blow off
• Fall off
• Fall through
• Shift to the extent that it affects the truck’s stability
What Happens if there is an Accident?
Despite the FMSCA’s best efforts, cargo load accidents do happen. Cargo-spill and cargo-shift accident claims can quickly become complicated and often require independent investigation to determine the actual cause. Trucking companies often argue that the cargo shifted as a result of the accident.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a large truck and/or unsecured cargo, make sure to hire an attorney. You might be entitled to carry out legal action against the driver or truck company. Insurance companies have teams of experienced adjusters, investigators, and lawyers trying to settle your case for as little money as possible.