Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data shows “cargo shift” to be high up on the list of causes in tractor trailer and other large truck accidents. Because of the high center of gravity and weight of a cargo load, a driver has limited maneuverability in the case of impending collisions and shorter braking distances when carrying a full load which can result in overturns or jack knife situations.
Overloading cargo is when a truck is carrying more than the specific maximum weight designed for the truck. A trucking company may do this to avoid making more than one trip that would cost more road time and fuel. An overloaded truck can cause an accident because:
A primary duty of trucking companies is the care of freight, meaning they should control and inspect loading of a truck before each trip. If freight is lost or damaged during transportation and it was observed by the driver, the driver and trucking company will be responsible.
In many cases a truck driver does not witness or participate in the loading process even if they are present, and other times the driver is not even allowed on the loading dock. When the shipper loads the truck and takes care to secure the cargo and seal the doors, the shipper bears full responsibility for the proper loading of the trailer and is legally liable for losses, damages and injuries caused by cargo shifting or falling. A truck driver may have a claim against the shipper along with other accident victims in this case
An attorney can be of assistance filing insurance and legal claims. Settlements will be based on the information obtained by the victims, witnesses and professionals who arrive at the scene after a truck accident caused by cargo shift/overload. Multiple factors will assist in the determination of fault.
Damages sustained after a crash with a truck carrying heavy cargo can be catastrophic, including losses of cargo, damage to multiple vehicles, roadway damage and severe injuries, or death. Accidents related to cargo shift may be avoided if designated parties securing the loading of the truck do their job, but truckers have an obligation to take part and control trailer loads paying attention to unbalanced cargo impacts to the mechanical abilities of the truck during travel.
An accident victim may receive both compensatory damages, which are those damages that caused economic loss (loss of wages, medical bills, legal fees and property damage) and non-economic loss to victim (pain and suffering); and punitive damages can be awarded to punish the persons being sued, in the event of gross negligence causing extensive damage or death, or criminal acts while driving such as DUI.
Seek legal counsel.
An attorney who is familiar with commercial trucking regulations and personal injury law will be best able to serve a person who has been involved in a truck accident when cargo shift/overload played a part. These types of accidents involve more complex legal interaction requiring specific knowledge of the trucking industry, insurance law and civil injury law and are dependent on multiple parties to a legal action.