How Unsecured Cargo Can Lead To Serious Truck Accidents in Texas?

Some of the most serious collisions on roads throughout the United States involve heavy trucks carrying cargo. This includes delivery trucks as well as semis and other large vehicles. With more than 12.5 million commercial trucks on U.S. roadways, these serious accidents are unfortunately common. Semi trucks can carry loads as heavy as 80,000 pounds, and one of the top causes of accidents is unsecured cargo in or on these trucks. If you have recently been involved in such an accident, your next step should be to hire an experienced lawyer for delivery truck accidents.

How Unsecured Cargo Causes Truck Accidents

Commercial trucks tend to be top-heavy, which means that they have diminished stability compared to vehicles with a lower center of gravity. Even when truck cargo is properly secured, these trucks require special handling when rounding turns and corners, stopping and changing lanes. Unsecured cargo is particularly problematic. When cargo in the truck shifts suddenly, the driver’s control of the truck is dramatically diminished. Delivery trucks often have loose cargo, such as stacks of boxes or other products or storage containers that can tip over or roll around.

While many trucks carry their cargo in a trailer, some vehicles carry loads that can fall or spill on the road. These include trucks carrying logs, beams, poles, agricultural equipment, oil or chemicals, boats, automobiles and others. When these loads are not properly secured, they can fall on the road. Other drivers often must veer suddenly in response to a truck that is jackknifing, falling over or losing its load. If those vehicles avoid hitting the truck or its load, they may still collide with other vehicles on the road.

Causes of cargo truck accidents include:

  • Equipment that does not comply with established regulations
  • Defective or insufficient tie-downs
  • Unreasonable trucking company deadlines that result in drivers cutting corners
  • Improper or unsafe loading by cargo loaders
  • Drivers making sharp and unsafe turns
  • Drivers failing to make adjustments if cargo moves

The Effects of Unsecured Cargo Truck Accidents

Unsecured cargo truck accidents involve jackknifed trailers, falling or spilling cargo and even overturned trucks and trailers. The truck, trailer or cargo could directly impact nearby vehicles, crushing them or causing extensive damage from the sides, front or rear. Many liquids that spill during truck accidents are flammable or toxic, and this presents health and safety risks for everyone in the vicinity. Cargo that breaks free from the truck or trailer can become dangerous projectiles, or they can crush or collide with other vehicles. While some nearby drivers can evade a collision, others may be unable to respond as the truck makes sudden and unexpected movements. Many truck accidents involve multiple vehicles with devastating consequences. Personal injury, deaths and property damage are common results of unsecured cargo truck accidents.

Requirements for Securing Truck Cargo

Regulations are in place to protect motorists from the devastating effects of a truck accident. If you are a victim of a truck spill or accident, your truck accident lawyer can help you understand your rights and fight for justice afforded to you under the law.

The FMCSA, or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is responsible for establishing safe standards for securing truck cargo. The organization has conducted numerous tests with different materials for tie-downs and buffers. Through these tests, the FMCSA has determined the best materials to use that will hold up to the friction, weight and forces that they may be exposed to. The requirements specify which materials can be used when transporting cargo. There are numerous specific requirements for different types of loads based on the cargo height, height, type and shape. The tie-downs and other securing equipment must be inspected for condition to ensure that it will hold up to the task. Both trucking companies and drivers are responsible for ensuring that these requirements are met before the truck departs carrying cargo.

The Texas Transportation Code 725.001 expands on the federal requirements. It states that it is a misdemeanor crime to improperly secure cargo. It is a criminal act if cargo falls off of the truck. In addition, gravel, dirt and other loose debris must be covered by a canvas or tarp. The maximum fine for not complying with the state’s requirements is $500.

Liability for Unsecured Cargo Truck Accidents

If you have recently been involved in a delivery truck accident Texas, rest assured that laws are in place that can provide recourse. Your truck accident attorney will carefully review the circumstances of your case to identify which party or parties may be held liable for the accident. Trucking companies are required to provide adequate materials so that the cargo can be secured properly. In addition, they must support the procedures for securing cargo and provide adequate time for employees to ensure that the cargo is secure.

Cargo loaders and drivers may also be liable to varying degrees. For example, if a driver was handling the truck recklessly, such as by making fast and sharp turns, he or she may be held legally responsible.

Outcomes of a Truck Accident Case

Injuries from a truck accident may result in emergency room visits, extensive imaging and tests, surgical procedures, long hospital stays and other medical expenses. While recovering, victims may take weeks or even months off of work. In some cases, the lingering effects of their injuries prevent them from working in the same field or earning comparable income. Between the medical bills, time off work and the potential need to change jobs or stop working altogether, a truck accident can have serious consequences for the victims.

Property damage is inevitably a result of a truck accident. This most often involves damage to one or more vehicles as well as any items that may be transported in the vehicles or behind them. RVs, ATVs, agricultural trailers and other items may be damaged in addition to cars, trucks or SUVs. In many cases, a total loss occurs.

Death is also an unfortunate result in many truck accidents. The most immediate result of a death is related healthcare and funeral costs. The family of the victim may suffer financially from the loss of the victim’s income, and this can impact the surviving spouse’s ability to save for retirement, the children to go to college and other factors. The family also may require extensive therapy related to the loss.

Your semi or delivery truck crash attorney will review all aspects of the case as well as its many impacts on you and your loved ones. Through the attorney’s expertise and a thorough understanding of the law, you can pursue the maximum compensation that you are entitled to under the law. These are funds that can help you and your loved ones move forward from the accident and cover all related costs.

The Need for an Independent Accident Investigation

To properly determine who is liable for the accident, the cause of the accident must be identified. This goes beyond stating that a truck jackknifed, for example. What caused the truck to jackknife? While the police will conduct an initial investigation, their report may not accurately specify if loose cargo or other factors were the cause. As a result, the right party cannot be named in a personal injury lawsuit.

Often, loose cargo will be identified in an initial investigative report, but it is unclear if the cargo got free because of the accident or because of other factors, like worn tie-downs or something else. A driver or trucking company will commonly state that the loose cargo was the result of the accident as a means to reduce or eliminate their culpability. However, an independent accident investigation will identify the causation, which is essential in determining who is at fault.

The Services of a Truck Accident Lawyer

Regardless of what the police report states, it is imperative that you speak with a delivery truck crash lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. An experienced attorney understands the nuances of these types of cases and is familiar with various tactics that truck companies and drivers may use to detract from their responsibility for the event. The law provides clear protection for vehicular accident victims, and your lawyer will fight for your full rights under the law.

The legal services begin with a consultation, which is when you and your attorney can review the facts of the case. At this time, you can learn about the strength of your case, what the process entails and what your reasonable compensation may be if you proceed with a lawsuit. Your attorney will provide you with a timeline and the next steps to take to move forward. Many truck accident cases are eventually settled out of court through negotiations. Your truck accident lawyer needs to be a skilled negotiator and have extensive experience in the courtroom as well.

Consult with an Attorney for Delivery Truck Accidents Today

Unsecured cargo is a common cause of serious truck accidents in Texas. If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a truck accident, schedule an initial legal consultation today.