When many people envision truck accidents, they think of the damage caused by large commercial vehicles. However, the cargo a truck is carrying can also cause a crash, particularly if it is not loaded properly. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) outlines very specific rules for inspecting, securing, and loading cargo. Truck drivers who disregard these rules and fail to comply with them can be held liable for a crash.
If you were injured due to improperly loaded cargo, you can file a claim for compensation. A Baton Rouge commercial vehicle accident lawyer can help you obtain the maximum damages you deserve.
How to Properly Secure Cargo on a Commercial Vehicle
It is critical for truck drivers to properly secure cargo on their vehicles so they do not cause an accident. The FMCSA outlines very specific rules for cargo securement, which include:
- Drivers must ensure that cargo is properly secured
- Drivers must ensure that cargo is properly distributed
- Drivers must secure all doors, tailgates, spare tires, and other equipment
- The cargo on a truck must never obstruct a driver’s view
- The cargo on a truck must never prevent a driver from moving their arms or legs freely
To ensure they comply with the above requirements, drivers must use straps, ropes, hooks, chains, binders, bracing, and winches when loading cargo onto their trucks. When they fail to do so, and an accident occurs as a result, truck drivers can be held liable for an accident.
Truck drivers are not only expected to make sure their cargo is properly secured but they are also required to inspect it regularly. Inspecting cargo once before heading out on the road is important, but it is not enough. Truck drivers must also inspect their cargo at the following times:
- Prior to any trip
- At least one time within the first 50 miles of the trip
- Any time the driver’s duty status changes, such as when they clock off the job or start a new shift
- Every 150 miles or every three-hour interval, whichever comes first
During these inspections, drivers must confirm that the cargo is still secure and that any devices used to secure the cargo are in good working condition. If a securing device is damaged or broken, drivers must replace them and notify the carrier before beginning or completing the trip. A driver may also need to use additional securing devices before they start or continue a trip.
How Improperly Secured Cargo Causes Accidents
A serious accident can occur any time a truck driver does not properly secure their cargo. This is particularly true when the cargo itself is dangerous, such as when a truck is carrying toxic chemicals.
Cargo that is not secured properly can cause many different types of accidents. One of the most obvious is when the cargo shifts and falls off of the vehicle. When this happens, other drivers may not have enough time to stop before they crash into the cargo. Or, the cargo may fall directly onto vehicles, seriously injuring the occupants inside.
Heavy machinery and other items can cause life-threatening injuries to others on the road. If the truck was carrying items that could easily roll, such as piping or logs, the cargo can easily travel down the roadway and cause a crash involving multiple vehicles.
When cargo is loose, it does not even have to fall off the truck to cause a serious crash. For example, when chemicals are not properly secured, containers can spill or leak and eventually leak out of the truck. This can create slick conditions that can cause a crash, or the liquids may be toxic and harmful, causing injuries.
Shifting cargo can also make it extremely difficult for a driver to control the truck. This can result in sideswiping accidents, rollovers, and jackknife crashes.
Call Our Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyers in Baton Rouge for Help With Improperly Secured Cargo
Truck drivers have many obligations to keep other motorists safe on the roads. When they fail to meet them, they can be held liable for a crash. At Big River Trial Attorneys, our Baton Rouge commercial vehicle accident lawyers can help you prove your case, which is very challenging after a crash due to unsecured cargo. We will gather and preserve the necessary evidence, handle the legal aspects of your claim, and negotiate with the trucking company and the insurance companies representing them. Call us now or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation and learn more.