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Improperly Loaded Cargo Truck Accidents
Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC
In addition to an overloaded truck that may have difficulty stopping or maneuvering, a truck with improperly loaded cargo can shift and cause a truck accident. Cargo shift is not the most common cause of truck accidents, but when a cargo shift occurs, it is very likely to cause a crash, which can often result in serious injury or even death.
Following a crash with a large truck in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC, you may find that many people--the trucking company, their insurance company, even your insurance company--are telling you what to do. However, they may not have your best interest at heart. To take care of yourself and your family after a truck accident, please consult with the truck accident lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, P.C. The consultation is free and we can tell you how best to protect your interests.
Who Is Responsible for Loading Cargo?
In many cases, cargo goes through many hands before it gets loaded on the truck. A truck may be loaded by one or several freight handlers, sometimes over multiple sessions or at multiple locations. But responsibility for ensuring that the cargo is properly loaded before the truck begins to move also rests on the driver. A driver is also responsible for inspecting the cargo early in a trip and at regular intervals while driving.
Every truck driver should be properly instructed in proper loading procedures and be able to identify when cargo is improperly loaded. A trucking company that hires or fields a driver without sufficient training to recognize improperly loaded cargo also shares culpability in a cargo shift accident.
Sometimes, a driver recognizes improperly loaded cargo but does not instruct loaders to shift or reload the cargo because he is afraid that doing so will put him behind schedule. In this case, the driver is at fault for not requesting the cargo shift, but the trucking company may share part of the blame for imposing an unrealistic schedule.
Characteristics of Improperly Loaded Cargo
Cargo shift is so serious a risk that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and regulatory agencies in Virginia and Maryland have published guidelines and handbooks on loading cargo. Every driver should be able to recognize these and other types of improperly loaded cargo:
- Weight unevenly distributed in trailer
- Weight distributed with high center of gravity
- Underloaded or overloaded trailers
- Cargo that is improperly braced or blocked
- Cargo secured with too few tiedowns or with tiedowns that are not rated for the weight of cargo
- Lack of edge protection when cargo could cut tiedowns
- Cargo that is improperly covered
- Cargo that does not have header boards to prevent spilling during stops or accidents
- Small livestock loads that are not separated with false bulkheads
In any of these cases, cargo can either break loose or shift, making the truck unstable and increasing the likelihood of truck accidents.
If you or a loved one was involved in a truck accident that resulted from shifting cargo, the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC personal injury lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, P.C. can help you protect your rights. Call or email us today for a free initial consultation.