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The Risk of Falling Cargo When Near Large Trucks

When driving on the road, you might encounter large trucks transporting goods across the country. However, there is a risk involved with sharing space with these massive vehicles.

Sometimes, the cargo might not be properly loaded or secured, and that can be a threat to other vehicles. The trucking company, driver, and other parties could be held liable if you have been injured in these accidents.

At The Solomon Law Group, we have seen our share of trucking accident cases. Any of these situations can lead to devastating injuries for the victims. However, when you add falling cargo to the equation, that can cause significant damage and other losses.

Let’s look at the risk of falling cargo when near large trucks.

Falling Hazards on the Road

According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, over 82.5% of all trucking accidents in our state involve truck transport, which means these vehicles were moving cargo from one location to another.

When these truck loads are not properly secured, they can shift or even fall off the vehicle. How does this happen?

When a truck changes lanes or stops suddenly, that cargo can move. Unfortunately, other vehicles may not have enough time to react. As a result, they often swerve to avoid hitting the cargo or colliding with fallen objects. Often, this leads to serious accidents and injuries.

Who’s Responsible for Trucks’ Lost Loads

Every truck driver is responsible for ensuring their loads are properly secured before hitting the road. Failure to do so can result in serious legal and professional consequences for the responsible party. Here are the key parties that may be held liable:

  • Trucking company: These companies must train their drivers in securement techniques. Along with that, they need to ensure compliance with regulations. If the company’s negligence contributed to the cargo spill, they may be held liable.
  • Truck driver: The truck driver is ultimately responsible for securing cargo on their vehicle. They may share liability in these accidents.
  • Cargo loaders: These individuals are responsible for distributing weight evenly and securing cargo. If improper loading led to the spill, loaders may be held accountable.

Regulations and Responsibilities Cargo Carriers Must Adhere To

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates and oversees the safety of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). They establish the safety standards that all of these vehicles must follow on the road. And yes, the FMCSA does provide regulations on cargo securement.

All cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle. Any truck that transports cargo needs to be strong enough to accommodate its weight and prevent movement while traveling.

To help fill in any space in the loading area, the driver can use dunnage bars or storage bars to provide additional support and stability for the cargo. Straps, chains, and other restraints must also be used when traveling with these materials.

These securement systems need to withstand deceleration and acceleration rates without shifting the cargo. These rules apply to all cargo-carrying commercial motor vehicles operated in interstate commerce. Certain cargo types, such as hazardous materials or oversized items, have additional requirements.

Safety Risks Lost Loads Pose

When cargo falls from a commercial truck, it can lead to serious consequences on the road. First, cargo falling from a moving vehicle can easily strike other vehicles. Loose cargo falling from a truck can hit other vehicles. The force of impact can cause injuries ranging from minor cuts and bruises to severe trauma.

Loose cargo can eject from the truck bed or trailer during sudden stops, turns, or collisions. Motorists following closely behind experience dents, scratches, and broken windows. If there are sharp or heavy objects, they can puncture tires, damage undercarriages, or cause accidents.

These types of accidents can also be dangerous for vulnerable motorcyclists on the road. Without enough protection, they could be knocked off their bike or severely injured by falling cargo. Falling cargo puts not just vehicles but pedestrians and bystanders at risk. If a heavy crate or piece of equipment falls into a crosswalk or walkway, it could lead to catastrophic injuries.

Spilled cargo can also cause traffic delays and congestion, blocking traffic lanes and causing backups. Cleanup crews must remove debris from the road.

Finally, spilled cargo can have an environmental impact, especially if it contains hazardous materials, chemicals, or pollutants. Many times, it can harm the environment, soil, and waterways.

How To Avoid Collisions Caused by Falling Cargo

If you are traveling near a large truck on the highway or roadway, make sure to give them plenty of space. Even well-secured cargo can shift the truck and suddenly move on the road. Leaving a little room between you and the other vehicle might give you enough time to react if cargo falls off the truck.

For those affected by these incidents, you have the right to pursue compensation from the guilty parties. You will want to consult an experienced trucking accident lawyer in these situations to learn your options if this was responsible for your collision.


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