Washington, DC Truck Accident Lawyers
If you have been on the highway when a tractor-trailer loses its cargo,
you know what a scary and dangerous thing it can be. Small cargo can spill
across the road, creating hazardous conditions, and large cargo can hit
or even crush a car. But even if it remains on the truck, improperly secured
cargo can be very dangerous. Imbalanced or shifting cargo can lead to serious
truck accidents, causing injury or even
death. If you have been hurt in a truck accident caused by shifting cargo, the
Washington, DC truck accident lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata,
& Siegel, P.C. can help.
In its Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LCCS), the Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration (FMCSA) identified cargo shift as one of the most
dangerous events in contributing to accidents. More than brake problems,
more than driver fatigue, even more than a driver performing an illegal
maneuver, when a cargo shift occurred, an accident was likely to follow.
In fact, shifting cargo had the highest relative risk of any factor identified.
This makes improperly secured cargo an important factor in many accidents.
The Importance of Balance
Tractor-trailer trucks have a higher chassis than passenger vehicles, especially
in the trailer. The height of the truck is responsible for the likelihood
of override/underride truck accidents, but it also makes balancing a truck
very important. The majority of a tractor-trailer truck's mass is
in its cargo, making the truck's center of mass high above the ground.
Since all of a truck's ability to maneuver is at the ground, all the
force of a maneuver must be conveyed through the truck up to the cargo.
Cargo resists changing speed and direction with force in the former direction
of travel. This creates powerful forces during a turn or stop that are
often directed laterally and high off the ground. The result is a tendency
for top-heavy tractor-trailers to tip or sway, and can lead to rollover
truck accidents or put severe stress on cargo restraints. Imbalanced cargo
increases these negative tendencies and can make it more likely for a
truck to roll over or jackknife.
Cargo Securement Standards
In response to the dangers of shifting cargo, the FMCSA has developed cargo
securement standards. These standards are designed to ensure a load has
reasonable resistance to tipping or loosening. However, they also show
that cargo should be secured low to the bed of the trailer whenever possible,
and that unbalanced cargo, or cargo otherwise liable to tipping should
be braced from tipping or rolling. They also show that a driver is responsible
for inspecting the cargo and securement before the trip, during the first
50 miles of travel, at the beginning of every period of driving, and at
three hour or 150 mile intervals.
The driver is responsible for identifying off-balance or loose cargo and
increasing load security whenever necessary. The only exception is if
the driver is ordered not to inspect cargo or the cargo is sealed or loaded
in such a way as to make inspection impossible. But sometimes drivers
do not perform responsibly. Sometimes, the cargo is not secured or is
secured improperly and can contribute to a truck accident. If you suffered
an avoidable injury caused by imbalanced cargo, the Washington, DC personal
injury lawyers at our firm have the resources, dedication, and skill to
produce the case results that you need and deserve.
Contact us today.