According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), shifting cargo is a factor in approximately one out of every 20 commercial truck accidents. Other cargo-related issues can cause and contribute to tractor-trailer accidents as well; and, in fact, improperly loaded cargo is one of the primary issues our Florida truck accident lawyer examines when investigating collisions that involve large commercial trucks.
4 Loading Issues that Can Cause and Contribute to Tractor-Trailer Accidents
Proper cargo loading is essential to the safe operation of tractor-trailers. When a tractor-trailer is loaded improperly, not only is the load itself a potential hazard, but it can create issues for the driver as well. Some of the most common examples of cargo loading issues involved in tractor-trailer accidents include:
- Overloading the Tractor Trailer – One of the most common cargo-related issues involved in commercial truck accidents is overloading. All tractor-trailers have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) that limits the amount of cargo the truck can safely carry. If a truck is overloaded, not only does this place additional stress on the truck itself (which can lead to failures), but it also makes it more difficult for the truck driver to stop safely.
- Failing to Properly Secure Cargo – When a tractor trailer’s cargo has not been properly secured, shifting during transit can create challenges for the driver as well. Additionally, if improperly-secured cargo comes loose and spills onto the roadway, this can create an extremely dangerous situation for other motorists.
- Failing to Balance the Cargo Load – When loading cargo into a container or onto a trailer, it is imperative that the cargo be appropriately balanced. This means not only balancing from side to side, but also from front to rear. The location of the weight on a tractor-trailer can greatly affect its handling and stopping distance, and unbalanced cargo can also make a truck far more likely to jackknife or rollover.
- Failing to Pressurize Liquid Cargo – Liquid cargo loads such as water, gas and oil must be pressurized in order to prevent sloshing during transit. Sloshing liquid cargo has a similar effect to shifting solid cargo, and it can leave a truck driver helpless to avoid a dangerous situation.
Who is Liable When Improper Loading Causes a Tractor Trailer Accident?
When improper cargo loading causes an accident, who is liable? The answer depends on the specific circumstances involved. In many cases, the trucking company will be liable. Trucking companies can be held liable for their employees’ negligence, and this includes everything from intentionally overloading a truck to failing to properly secure cargo prior to transit. If a shipping company or property broker improperly loaded a cargo container, then this company could be liable as well.
Speak with a Florida Truck Accident Lawyer at Searcy Denney
If you have been injured or lost a family member in a tractor-trailer accident and you believe that improperly-loaded cargo may have played a role in the collision, we encourage you to speak with our Florida truck accident lawyer promptly. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call 800-780-8607 or tell us how you would like to be contacted online today.