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What Happens If The Cargo Of A Truck Causes An Accident in Taylorsville, UT?

Semi-trucks carry cargo weighing tens of thousands of pounds through congested highways and around cars a fraction of their size. Because they are so potentially dangerous, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created strict rules and regulations regarding the weight and securement of truck cargo, and truck drivers, trucking companies and cargo loaders have a responsibility to maintain those laws and keep everyone involved safe from potential harm. If you suffered an injury or lost someone close to you in a truck accident caused by cargo issues, you have the right to file a claim and receive compensation for your losses.

Who Is Liable if the Cargo of a Truck Causes an Accident?

The trucking business is a vast industry with several key players. Sometimes companies have their own fleets of trucks. Sometimes they hire a trucking company or an independent truck driver to handle their cargo delivery needs. At any point, multiple parties could be responsible for the cargo in the truck trailer. Some potentially liable parties in a truck accident case include:

  • The truck driver is often responsible for loading the truck and conducting inspections at routine stops to ensure everything is still secure.
  • The company that owns the truck is liable for damages caused by a cargo issue if the company loaded the truck trailer or did not repair damaged securements.
  • A third party could be any person or company who loaded the cargo improperly and caused an accident.
  • The truck manufacturer is responsible for installing FMCSA-approved securements for trailers based on the weight the truck can carry.

Ultimately, whichever party is responsible for improperly securing cargo or overloading a trailer would be liable in the event of an accident. The basis of their negligence would likely be a violation of FMCSA regulations.

What Are the FMCSA Regulations for Truck Cargo?

The FMCSA regulates cargo in the trucking industry in two ways: securement and weight. A well-secured load will not shift inside a dry van or refrigerator trailer or fall off the back or sides of a flatbed trailer. Additionally, cargo within the standard weight requirements does not put added stress on the wheel or braking systems of a truck.

Securement Rules

There are a variety of systems and devices used to secure truck cargo, and they must all meet the performance qualifications set by the FMCSA. Elements of securement that all cargo loaders must consider when loading a truck include:

  • The placement of tie downs
  • The potential threats to safety that comes with using unmarked tie downs
  • The requirement for front-end structures when the cargo touches the front of the vehicle

These rules occasionally update, and all parties involved in loading, securing, and transporting cargo are responsible for learning and applying all updates. Failure to do so could result in a penalty even if the oversight does not relate to an accident.

Weight Limitations

Federal law regulates how heavy a truck can be based on the axle structure. For example, trucks with a single axle cannot have a gross weight of over 20,000 pounds. Trucks with a tandem axle group cannot exceed 34,000 pounds, and the limit for the largest trucks is 80,000 pounds. The cargo loader must consider the truck’s weight with an empty trailer before loading. Because a federal government agency set these laws, FMCSA regulations only apply to trucks traveling on the interstate system. However, relatively all trucks use interstates to travel because it is a faster commute. To enforce weight limitations, interstate highways are equipped with strategically placed weigh stations where truck drivers must stop and weigh.

What Are the Potential Dangers of Overloading or Not Properly Securing Cargo in a Commercial Truck?

Overloaded truck trailers present a potentially deadly hazard to everyone on the road. The risk is even greater when the driver does not have the most seasoned truck driving skills. While any truck accident can be catastrophic, those caused by overloaded trucks can have the most devastating repercussions, given the weight of an overloaded trailer. Likewise, improperly secured cargo can present many dangers to the truck driver and anyone nearby.

Types of Cargo-Related Truck Accidents

The most common types of truck accidents related to issues with cargo weight or securement include:

  • Rollover accidents occur when the center of gravity is too high, causing the truck to roll over during a turn, merge, or lane change. Even a strong gust of wind can cause the truck to tumble. A common cause is the inadequate securement of cargo. Poorly secured cargo can shift and change the center of gravity in transit.
  • Jackknife accidents occur when the truck trailer swings forward as the driver breaks and folds like a jackknife. An overloaded truck is more likely to fold while going downhill because the trailer’s weight makes it difficult for the driver to stop.
  • Fallen debris on the road typically occurs when cargo on a flatbed truck is not adequately secured. For example, flatbeds often carry loads of lumber, trees, passenger vehicles, and heavy construction equipment. Should the tie-downs fail at any point while the truck is in transit, a cargo spill could result in a devastating accident.
  • Rear-end collisions can occur at any time, but a common cause is an overloaded trailer. The additional weight can wreak havoc on a truck’s brake system, increasing the risk of a rear-end crash.

Any of these accidents could result in substantial damages. The compensatory damages from a truck accident case include the cost of medical treatment for the injured, including current and future medical bills, the loss of current and future income, and the repair or replacement of damaged property. Additionally, the liable party would have to financially compensate for the psychological damage a devastating truck accident could have on the victims. For example, losses could include physical and emotional pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and mental anguish. A truck accident lawyer can help you identify the damages in your cause to ensure you receive fair compensation.

Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Benefit Your Case?

If the aftermath of a truck accident has you facing devastating financial circumstances, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses. A truck accident lawyer will stand up to big trucking companies and build a solid case to support your claim. Of course, you have no obligation to hire an attorney to represent you in negotiations and court, but the burden of a truck accident when you are trying to heal could be overwhelming. Additionally, the complexities of truck accident liability may be too much for someone without legal experience.

At Fielding Law, our team of truck accident attorneys has extensive experience in helping victims of cargo-related truck accidents in Utah. We are familiar with the laws that govern these cases and will work tirelessly to ensure you get the compensation you deserve while protecting your rights and holding the at-fault party accountable. You do not have the time to consider a personal injury claim while trying to recover from severe injuries. We alleviate that burden and do the work for you. Avoid waiting until the statute of limitations in Utah runs out. Contact Fielding Law to schedule your free case evaluation today. Call us any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at (877) 880-4090 to talk to a truck accident lawyer about your case and get the answers you need to start putting your life back together.