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Truck Cargo: What Motorists Cannot See Can Hurt Them

Aug 10, 2016 - Truck Accidents by

With a few notable exceptions, most commercial semi-trucks appear very similar to the uninitiated motorist. Most drivers sharing the road with these massive vehicles are aware of many obvious dangers caused by their size and weight. However, our Charlotte truck accident attorneys warn that one truck may be more dangerous than another due to a hidden danger: its cargo.

It Takes Over 140 Pages to Discuss Safe Cargo Handling

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA provides the Driver’s Handbook on Cargo Securement to lay out the North American Cargo Securement Standard observed in the U.S. and Canada. The Handbook details an array of requirements for all commercial drivers; yet, it does not even cover liquid cargo, which also poses significant risks on the road.

The goal of the standards is to ensure that truckers secure their loads to help prevent the risks such as (but not limited to) the following during an accident or even due to adverse weather conditions:

  • Leaking items, which can include granular content, or containers that, if damaged, can leak hazardous materials
  • Cargo spills
  • Items that can blow off of a vehicle or fall from inside of it
  • Cargo that shifts within a trailer to the extent that it affects stability or maneuverability

Insecure cargo poses risks to drivers and passengers within a truck. However, the risk is even greater for small vehicles subjected to exposure to unexpected materials on the road — or a direct crash involving a semi that can weigh as much as 20,000 to 80,000 pounds, depending on the number of trailers.

Proving Improperly-Loaded Cargo Can Be Challenging

The standards in the Handbook are not just recommendations; truck drivers and their companies need to comply with them. In fact, they may also need to comply with any stricter local requirements.

As with any personal injury claim, however, North Carolina law requires injury victims to provide compelling evidence proving that one or more parties has been negligent, which caused the injuries and other damages. It often takes extensive investigation to determine whether an accident was caused by unsecured cargo. Once that determination is made, an investigation must also identify who loaded and secured the cargo, along with whether company policies may have contributed to the issue.

In the event of a trucking accident, it is essential to get an investigator on the scene as soon as possible. Skilled investigators examine all forensic evidence at the accident scene, and they also can gain access to trucking company records to potentially reveal policies and procedures that can lead to accidents involving unsecured cargo.

To gain access to experienced attorneys who understand the complexities of truck accidents and call on skilled investigative resources when needed, call us at 844-452-3688 or use our convenient online contact form.