Every person who shares the road with an 18-wheeler relies on the businesses and the people responsible for securing the vehicle’s load. When these parties load a truck improperly, either by exceeding the recommended weight limits or by improperly or carelessly securing it– they put other drivers and passengers in harm’s way.
According to a federal study, this leads to 440 fatalities and 10,000 injuries each year. If you or a loved one have been hurt in a truck accident, speak with a Dallas unsecured load accident lawyer at the Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm.
Legal requirement to secure a load
Texas law deems it a misdemeanor to transport unsecured loose materials. The Texas Transportation Code– Section 725.001 specifies that loose material such as dirt, sand, and gravel must be secured so that it cannot be blown or spilled during transport. Loose materials must be transported in a completely enclosed trailer– which applies to commercial and passenger vehicles.
In addition, federal regulations specify that cargo on motor carriers engaged in interstate commerce (i.e., commercial vehicles) must be secured to prevent them from shifting in the trailers or falling from the trucks. The regulations specify acceleration or deceleration forces that a tractor-trailer must undergo without the load shifting.
Causes of unsecured cargo accidents
Trucking companies have a financial incentive to load trucks as quickly as possible. When this is their top priority, safety can be sacrificed. When trucks are overloaded, or their loads are unsecured, it can lead to:
- Rollover accidents – Topping the list of most common improper load accidents is rollovers. When a truck that has an unsecured load makes a turn, the load can shift and cause an imbalance. This can result in an overturned truck.
- Falling cargo – Cargo transported on a flatbed rather than in a trailer can fall onto the roadway. The tethers and bungees used to secure cargo to flatbeds are at risk of wear and tear. If the driver or trucking company does not inspect and replace damaged restraints– objects or debris can fall off– and strike vehicles or become dangerous obstructions in the road.
- Jackknife accidents – Large commercial vehicles take longer to stop than smaller vehicles. When the tractor of a tractor-trailer is overloaded, the excess weight can lead to a jackknife accident. A jackknife occurs when the truck driver brakes suddenly, but the tractor continues traveling forward until it faces a different direction than the cab, making a “v” shape. When this happens, the swinging trailer can strike nearby vehicles and even turn over. It is common for jackknife accidents to result in serious injuries and fatalities.
- Hazardous material spills – Truck accidents are even more dangerous when the cargo is hazardous. When a truck carrying hazardous materials is involved in an accident from an improperly-loaded bed or trailer, the impact may cause a fire or an explosion. Drivers must have special certification to carry these materials, but accidents still happen.
Determining the cause and the full scope of damages are crucial tasks that your Dallas overloaded truck accident lawyer will undertake. At the Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm, we work with knowledgeable experts who help prove what happened.
Liability for an unsafe load accident
When an unsafe load leads to an accident or falling cargo, any party that breached their duty to ensure a safe load may be liable for the resulting injuries. The first places a Dallas personal injury lawyer will look are to the driver, the trucking company, and any other person or business responsible for loading the truck.
A complex web of state and federal regulations can affect liability in the trucking industry. Also, truck drivers may work for a company or be self-employed. Your attorney will investigate all of the potentially liable parties who can be held accountable.
Contact us after an improperly loaded trailer accident
If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, you may feel like the deck has been stacked against you. Dealing with medical bills, living expenses, an inability to work, and ongoing disability are just a few of the obstacles you may face. You do not have to go through it alone– call us at the Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm to discuss your case with a DFW truck accident attorney. Our team has over 30 years of experience in personal injury litigation, and we are here to help you.