One of the most common fatal traffic accident types in the US is a collision with a commercial truck. In 2017, 4,657 fatal collisions involved large trucks, according to crash data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Big rigs pose many safety threats to smaller passenger vehicles and their occupants, such as weights of up to 80,000 pounds and significant blind spots. One serious safety threat is the possibility of a lost load due to improperly loaded cargo.
Risks of Improperly Loaded or Unsecured Cargo
A lost cargo load refers to items falling from the bed or trailer of a commercial truck. Lost load accidents often do not affect the truck or its driver, but rather the drivers trailing behind the large truck in smaller vehicles. Dropped cargo loads could cause road hazards that other drivers swerve off the road to avoid. Items or debris from a lost load could also fly into or bounce through a driver’s windshield, potentially causing deadly head or brain injuries.
Improperly loaded cargo typically refers to items loaded with the incorrect weight distribution, which could cause a truck to crash and lose its load. Unsecured cargo, on the other hand, may fly off of a truck bed from improper securement. The FMCSA has cargo-loading rules for both types of trucks: open flatbed trucks and closed trailers. It also has rules based on cargo type, such as logs, hazardous materials, liquids and vehicles.
The FMCSA’s cargo securement rules state that all motor carriers must ensure vehicle structures, systems and parts used to secure cargo are in proper working order before sending a truck off. Carriers must follow all of the FMCSA’s requirements for properly loading, strapping down, securing and carrying cargo based on the type of cargo, the weight of the load and many other parameters. Breaching any federal load securement rules could cause a lost load accident, as well as liability for the commercial carrier or another party.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
Liability refers to legal and financial responsibility for a traffic accident. In Arizona, the person or party who is liable for damages is the person at fault for the crash under the state’s tort-based liability system. In general, this will be the motor carrier (trucking company) in a lost cargo load truck accident case. The motor carrier could be at fault if one of its employees improperly secured or loaded the cargo, or if the company was negligent in properly training its cargo loaders.
If the issue came from the cargo company, however, the company may be liable for a lost load accident instead. If the cargo fell off the truck because of issues with the securement system, the manufacturer of a defective part could be liable. After a truck accident due to improperly loaded cargo, victims often call in Glendale personal injury attorneys to determine fault and liability for them. A lawyer can use tools such as professional investigators, police reports and the truck’s black box to piece together how the accident happened and who is to blame. A lawyer can then use this information as evidence to help prove a negligence claim.
How to Prove Negligence and Recover Compensation in These Types of Claims
Improperly loaded cargo could cause a devastating truck accident in Arizona. If you or someone close to you has serious injuries from a lost cargo load accident, use an attorney to help you prove negligence. It is the burden of the plaintiff in a personal injury claim to provide evidence that proves the four main elements of a negligence claim.
- Duty of care.
- Breach of duty of care.
- Causation for the truck accident.
- Damages suffered.
To recover financial compensation for your hospital bills, property repairs and other losses, you or your plaintiff’s attorney will need to prove these elements based on a preponderance of the evidence. This means enough evidence to establish that the defendant is more likely than not responsible for your damages. Working with a Glendale truck accident lawyer from the outset of your claim could help you build a stronger case against a motor carrier or another defendant in the pursuit of compensation after a lost cargo load accident.