Falling Cargo Truck Accidents
According to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) truck accident causation study, about 10,000 accidents occurred due to shifting or loose cargo over three years. The FMCSA reports that cargo issues accounted for 7% of all truck accidents during that time.
In 2019, 25 people died, and 115 suffered incapacitating injuries in Florida truck accidents. Thankfully, none of those fatalities resulted from the 655 accidents attributed to cargo shifts. However, five people suffered catastrophic injuries.
The attorneys with the Jones Law Group have extensive experience representing clients injured in truck accidents caused by falling or shifting cargo. We’re ready to work to help you get every dollar you deserve from those whose negligence led to your suffering. Schedule a free consultation by calling (727) 571-1333 or contacting us online.
How Does Shifting or Falling Cargo Cause a Truck Accident?
As you can see, falling cargo truck accidents can have severe consequences. They’re also preventable. These accidents occur when the cargo a commercial truck transports shifts, falls, or becomes dislodged during transit, posing a risk to other vehicles, pedestrians, and the truck itself.
A truck’s cargo can come loose during transport in many ways. These are some of the more common ones.
Loss of Balance and Stability
When cargo shifts or falls within a truck, it disrupts the equilibrium of the vehicle. The truck’s center of gravity can change abruptly, causing it to become unbalanced. This imbalance affects the truck’s stability, making it challenging for the driver to control the vehicle’s movements.
If the cargo’s weight shifts to one side, it can lead to the truck tipping over. This is particularly hazardous when the truck is navigating turns or curves. The centrifugal force generated during these maneuvers can amplify the imbalance caused by the shifting cargo, resulting in rollovers.
When the cargo suddenly moves, the trailer might skid sideways while the cab continues moving forward. This creates an angle between the two components, a scenario known as jackknifing. Jackknifing can result in the truck becoming uncontrollable, often leading to collisions with other vehicles or obstacles.
Collisions with Other Vehicles or Objects
Falling cargo poses a grave danger to other road users. The cargo can collide with nearby vehicles, pedestrians, or infrastructure, causing accidents and injuries. Large and heavy cargo falling onto the road can block lanes and create hazardous conditions for other drivers.
Common Causes of Falling Cargo Truck Accidents
The people responsible for loading a truck’s cargo must take extreme care to ensure the cargo doesn’t come loose. When they fail, the results can be horrible. Here are some of the reasons falling cargo accidents occur.
Stacking Boxes Too High
When cargo is loaded too high in the truck, it raises the vehicle’s center of gravity. This increased height makes the truck more susceptible to tipping over, especially when making turns or encountering uneven terrain.
Not Distributing Cargo Weight Evenly
Uneven weight distribution can lead to an unequal distribution of forces on the tires and suspension. This imbalance can compromise the truck’s stability and handling, potentially causing accidents.
Not Properly Securing the Load
If cargo isn’t correctly secured using restraints, straps, or other means, it can shift during transit. Sudden weight shifts can affect the truck’s balance, leading to loss of control and accidents.
Faulty Cargo Restraints
Cargo restraints, such as straps or chains, must be in good condition to effectively secure the load. If these restraints are defective, worn-out, or improperly fastened, they may fail to hold the cargo in place, causing it to fall or shift.
Who’s Liable for a Truck Accident Caused by Falling Cargo?
Most personal injury cases can be complicated. But a truck accident is one of the most complex because several parties typically play a role in causing it. These are some of the parties that could face liability in an accident caused by loose cargo.
- The truck driver: The truck driver must ensure the cargo is loaded and secured correctly. Failing to carry out these duties can make the driver liable for any accidents resulting from falling cargo. The driver could also lose their job.
- The trucking company: Federal law clearly states that cargo must be secured appropriately. If the trucking company ignores the law or encourages unsafe loading practices, they may share liability for the accident.
- Cargo loaders: Individuals responsible for loading the cargo must ensure it’s balanced and secured according to safety guidelines. Negligence in properly loading and securing the cargo can lead to liability.
- Manufacturers: If the cargo restraints were defective due to manufacturing flaws, the manufacturer might be held accountable for the accident.
Types of Evidence Used to Prove Fault in a Falling Cargo Case
The stronger your evidence, the better your chances of getting the money you have coming. Some of the types of evidence we use at the Jones Law Group to prove liability include the following:
- Eyewitness accounts: Witnesses who observed the accident can provide crucial details about how the cargo shifted, fell, or caused the accident.
- Accident scene analysis: Careful examination of skid marks, debris patterns, and the positioning of vehicles can help reconstruct the sequence of events that led to the accident.
- Cargo loading records: Documentation detailing how the cargo was loaded, secured, and distributed can demonstrate whether workers followed proper loading procedures.
- Truck maintenance records: Maintenance logs can reveal whether equipment failures, such as brakes or suspension, contributed to the accident.
- Surveillance footage: Video footage captured by traffic cameras, nearby businesses, or dashcams can provide visual evidence of the incident, aiding in determining fault.
Obtaining the critical evidence mentioned above would be challenging for a non-lawyer. This is one of the many reasons you’ll need to hire an attorney as soon as possible. The earlier you do so, the better the chances you’ll have the proof you need to obtain maximum compensation.
Fast action will be a must. If you wait too long to get legal help, that evidence could disappear forever.
How Can Jones Law Group Help You?
If you were involved in a falling cargo truck accident, seeking legal representation is crucial. The Jones Law Group specializes in personal injury cases and has experience dealing with complex truck accident cases.
Our attorneys can assist you in gathering evidence, investigating the accident, determining liability, and pursuing compensation for your damages. These are losses such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and others. Please don’t hesitate to use our online form or call (727) 571-1333 for a free evaluation of your case.