Semi-trucks move millions of tons of cargo across America each year. Unfortunately, not every truck makes it safely to its destination. In 2018 alone, data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported 4,862 fatal accidents and 112,000 injury accidents involving large trucks. Some of these trucking accidents involved cargo falling off the semi-truck.
If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident involving falling cargo, you may be eligible for damages. Work with a truck accident attorney in San Antonio for assistance proving your injury claim.
Common Causes of Lost Cargo Loads
Lost cargo loads are serious mishaps that can cause deadly accidents. When a truck loses some of its cargo, the cargo can bounce into the road and strike other vehicles. The cargo could pierce a driver’s windshield and cause fatal injuries, including decapitation. A lost load could also lead to a multi-vehicle pileup behind the truck. The first step in recovering compensation for a lost cargo load accident is determining the cause of the disaster.
Broken Federal Load Securement Regulations
The FMCSA has strict cargo securement rules that determine how cargo loaders must strap different types of cargo down for the ride. These rules give performance criteria for each type of securement device, as well as special rules for dangerous cargo such as hazmat. Failing to follow all of these rules could lead to a preventable lost load accident.
Improper Weight Distribution
A commercial truck cannot safely travel to its destination if the weight of its cargo is unevenly distributed. Uneven weight distribution can make a truck off-balance, decreasing its braking capacity and increasing the risk of rollover accidents. Uneven weight distribution can also put too much pressure against the doors of a big rig, causing them to open and cargo to fall off the truck mid-transit.
Defective Securement Devices
In some cases, cargo falling from a semi-truck is due to problems with the securement devices, such as defective straps or buckles. A securement device with a defective design, assembly or marketing could fail or malfunction while in use. If the truck is traveling when the device fails, this could lead to cargo loads dumped into the road.
Negligent Truck Driver
Finally, some lost cargo load accidents have to do with improper driving techniques, such as a driver slamming on the brakes or jerking the steering wheel. It is imperative for all truck drivers to control their vehicles with a great degree of care. Acts of negligence or recklessness behind the wheel could lead to trucking disasters, including cargo falling from the truck.
Who Is Liable for a Cargo-Related Trucking Accident?
Liability, or legal responsibility, for cargo falling off a semi-truck will depend on the cause of the accident. If poor cargo securement led to the accident, the trucking company that hired the employees or cargo loaders will be vicariously liable for their mistakes. If the cargo company loaded the items itself, the company could be liable for negligence that led to the disaster. If the lost load traces back to a defective product, the manufacturer may have to pay damages instead.
Liability for a cargo-related truck accident often falls to the trucking company. The company can be either vicariously or directly responsible for improperly secured cargo. Determining and proving liability, however, can be difficult. You will need to prove someone else’s fault for your accident before a judge or jury will award you damages for your medical bills, vehicle repairs and other losses.
It will be up to you or your attorney as the injured party to establish liability based on clear and convincing evidence. Your attorney will need to present enough evidence to establish the defendant’s liability as more likely to be true than not true. Evidence in a cargo-related accident could include photographs of improper load securement, eyewitness testimony and accident reconstruction.
For assistance proving your lost cargo load case in Texas, hire a San Antonio truck accident lawyer from Hill Law Firm.