Transporting cargo by land is an essential part of the shipping and receiving industry in the US. In fact, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, approximately 11 million tons of shipments were moved by trucks across the US in 2018. This figure is only expected to grow over the coming decades.
However, what happens when the cargo itself presents a hazard for the others traveling on the roadway? Shifting cargo is recognized as one common cause of truck accidents across the country, claiming people’s lives and injuring many others.
A cargo shift accident is usually painful, stressful, and overwhelming for everyone involved. Any collision involving a large truck can result in serious injuries, a lengthy recovery, and large financial losses.
With over $2 billion won for clients over our 60+ years of serving injured New Yorkers, Cellino Law’s trustworthy team is eager to put our experience at work for you and your family. Contact us today at 800-555-5555 to learn more about how we can help you with your truck accident claim.
Why is Shifting Cargo Dangerous?
A fully loaded semi-truck could carry approximately 50,000 pounds of cargo when full. Depending on the type of truck, the cargo may be stored inside a trailer, fastened to a flatbed, or towed. If the cargo shifts position in transit, a collision, tip-over, or spill could result. And the dangers are clear when materials fall into the roadway.
Falling cargo could hit other vehicles on the road, causing further accidents. A spill can be especially dangerous when the truck was transporting hazardous materials such as substances that are flammable, explosive, or dangerous to touch or smell.
Since cargo shift truck accidents often result in serious injuries, it is especially important to work with a lawyer who has experience handling these sorts of commercial vehicle cases. At Cellino Law, our lawyers are eager to make a difference in our clients’ lives, ready to use our extensive experience and resources on their behalf.
What Causes Cargo to Shift in a Truck?
Thousands of trucks travel thousands of miles across the United States each day to transport essential goods.
These trucks carry a variety of cargo, including:
- Cars or machinery
- Steel rods or frames
- Gasoline or diesel fuel
- Grocery items
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, has established regulations to ensure the safe transportation of these materials on US roads. When these regulations are not followed, a cargo shift can occur.
Improperly loaded cargo
The FMCSA requires that cargo placed beside each other must be either in direct contact, or have the space between them blocked, to prevent them from shifting towards each other. As for materials with a tendency to roll, they must be lifted off the deck and/or chokes, wedges, or other similar means secured to the deck must be used to prevent rolling. Similarly, any materials that have a tendency to tip must be braced.
As mentioned, large trucks can be carrying thousands of pounds of cargo. If the weight is not properly distributed across the axles, this could create additional stress on the vehicle, increasing the likelihood of a mechanical failure – affecting essential steering, braking, and speed control functions.
Improperly secured cargo
Some of the FMCSA regulations define how cargo must be secured, spelling out details such as the proper use of tie-downs and securement requirements for specific materials.
The cargo securement system must be able to withstand the following minimum forces:
- Forward force of 80 percent of cargo weight
- Rearward force of 50 percent of cargo weight
- Sideways force of 50 percent of cargo weight
- Upward force of 20 percent of cargo weight
If the securement system is insufficient or one of the securement methods breaks or fails, this could lead to a cargo shift-related accident.
Tight corners or turns
Large trucks are especially prone to experiencing a rollover. When taking a tight corner or turning at too high of a speed, the sheer force being exerted on the truck can be enough to cause the truck to tip over, spilling its load.
This can happen especially if the truck is carrying a liquid load, such as a large tanker truck. During a turn, the liquid cargo inside the tank shifts to the side opposite the direction of the turn. This increases the weight on one side of the truck, which could result in a tip-over accident.
Who is Liable in a Cargo Shift Accident?
Accidents involving commercial vehicles tend to be more complicated than those with passenger cars. There may be multiple parties and companies involved, so it becomes especially important to accurately determine liability after a cargo shift accident.
Take, for example, the responsibility of safely securing cargo into the truck. At times, the driver is primarily responsible for overseeing the loading of the materials. In this case, if the cargo was not well secured, the driver (and by extension the trucking company) could be held liable for the resulting damages.
However, the party shipping the materials may be responsible for loading the truck. The driver may not even have the opportunity to inspect the cargo to ensure it is secured before leaving the deck.
A truck accident lawyer will investigate the specific circumstances and details of the accident to accurately identify all liable parties. This can include conducting interviews, gathering evidence, and hiring experts. By conducting a thorough investigation into the crash, a lawyer can help hold the liable party or parties responsible for the damages they caused.
Call Cellino Law For Help After a Cargo Shift Accident
In a perfect world, the insurance companies in question would automatically provide personal injury victims with the compensation they deserve. After all, insurance policies exist for that very reason – to provide the coverage we need after an accident.
The truth is, though, that insurance companies are businesses, and like any other business, their first priority is making a profit. Every dollar that is paid out in a settlement is an expense that can potentially be reduced. This gives insurance companies the incentive to reduce or deny claims in an effort to protect profits.
When you work with a lawyer at Cellino Law, you can rest assured that our legal team will review your case and investigate the specifics. In addition to our award-winning team of legal professionals, we have further resources on hand. We can hire and consult with other knowledgeable individuals nationwide, such as accident reconstruction professionals, to strengthen your case.
At Cellino Law, we guarantee all clients:
- A free case review
- 24/7 assistance
- No upfront fees
We are determined to offer our clients the legal representation they need after an injury. If you or a family member has been injured in a truck accident, our team can make arrangements to travel and meet you to answer your questions.
Remember, you never pay for our services unless we win on your behalf! Contact us today at 800-555-5555 to schedule your free consultation.