When a truck is improperly loaded or carrying unsecured cargo, serious accidents and injuries can lead to legal claims against the trucking company or owner of the truck.
Unsecured Cargo and Deadly Accidents
To prevent deadly trucking accidents, federal cargo securement regulations impose strict requirements for various types of cargo transported on U.S. highways and interstates. Within the American trucking industry, operational and safety standards are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Their primary mission is to reduce trucking accidents, injuries, and fatalities involving large commercial trucks and buses.
On January 1, 2004, FMCSA implemented new cargo securement guidelines that changed transport specifications for all cargo-carrying commercial motor carriers operating in interstate commerce. New rules addressed specific requirements for securing cargo to prevent items from sliding, shifting, tipping over, or falling off trucks and trailers into the roadway or traffic. Cargo includes all types of materials except liquids and gases and materials transported in tanks and hoppers.
All cargo-carrying commercial trucks are required to have securement systems that can support at least 80% of the cargo’s weight while the truck is traveling straight ahead and braking. When accelerating, shifting gears, changing lanes, turning corners, and backing up, at least 50% of the cargo’s weight must be supported. To secure loads, truckers use various types of securement devices including:
- High-density ropes
- Steel straps
- Metal chains
- Metal hooks
- Tarps and covers
Falling debris and unsecured cargo that falls from a truck create deadly dangers for oncoming traffic and nearby pedestrians. If debris falls from an overpass onto moving vehicles below, drivers and vehicle occupants may be severely injured or killed without warning. Accidents seen by Nevada truck crash lawyers often involve fallen lumber, rocks and gravel, concrete blocks, and equipment that causes pile-up crashes with multiple injuries. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that approximately 50,000 automobile crashes every year are caused by road debris and unsecured or improperly secured cargo loads.
Commercial trucking companies are required to carry trucking liability insurance. Truck drivers must show proof of minimum primary truck insurance which covers damage to another vehicle or injures a person in an accident. Most companies have general liability policies that provide $750,000 in insurance coverage. General liability provides additional protections for accident damages and personal injury lawsuits. When injuries are caused by unsecured cargo, violations of federal cargo securement regulations will likely constitute negligence.