Heavy trucks play a critical role in transporting goods across the United States. Unfortunately, as many lawyers who help clients involved in big rig accidents can attest, some drivers are careless when it comes to securing their loads. As a result, people are injured or even killed in big rig accidents caused by loose cargo.
Whether these incidents are caused by large, heavy items like boxes or containers that fall off the trucks or smaller, loose material such as gravel, lawyers often end up representing many people injured in loose cargo accidents.
Unsecured Loads - Common Cause of Big Rig Accidents
Among the many causes of big rig accidents that result in injuries or even death, attorneys find that unsecured loads rank higher than most people think. According to a recent 3-year study AAA conducted on vehicle crashes due to road debris, more than 200,000 crashes were the result of loose cargo or debris falling from vehicles. As a result of such events, more than 39,000 people were injured and there were 500 fatalities.1
Two-thirds of these accidents were found to be the result of unsecured loads falling onto the road or vehicles. More than one-third of all fatalities occurred when drivers swerved to avoid debris that had fallen in the road in front of them.
Although traffic safety organizations have yet to compile a definitive statistic on how many of these incidents are caused by big rigs alone, many lawyers estimate that a larger percentage of them involve heavy trucks.
Unsecured Loads Are Extremely Dangerous
Considering the size and weight of the cargo that most heavy trucks haul, lawyers who handle big rig accidents agree that anything that falls from these vehicles can become deadly. Whether failing to properly secure shifting loads or use restraining methods, anything that falls from these trucks while they are in motion can result in deadly accidents.
Since lumber, metal, pipes, and other heavy supplies can be particularly difficult to properly secure, these loads pose a high threat. Yet these objects are not the only types of cargo known to fall from heavy trucks.
Some accidents involve rear cargo doors that are pushed open by the loads inside the trailer that have become unbalanced. Even loose loads like gravel, sand, and other material can fly off the back of a truck when not properly covered, resulting in vehicle damage and accidents.
Accidents Caused By Unsecured Loads
Regardless of the type of load involved, accident lawyers find that cargo spilling on the roadway can cause crashes and injuries in two major ways: direct impact from falling debris or evasive action taken to avoid falling debris.
Unsecured cargo that falls directly onto vehicles following behind the trailer can crush the vehicle or cause other serious damage to a vehicle and its occupants. Accidents happen more frequently when drivers attempt to avoid being struck by falling cargo. Although they are not hit by falling debris, drivers often hit other motorists or drive off the road. In either case, it is the failure to secure the load that caused both types of accidents.
Federal safety laws require that all truck drivers properly secure loads by using a number of approved methods to prevent accidents caused by falling cargo. Drivers who fail to properly secure their loads can be cited and fined. While big rig accident lawyers realize that true accidents do happen, they also know that many times these incidents occur due to driver carelessness or failure to properly maintain vehicles and equipment.
Regardless of the cause, attorneys stress that unsecured loads can be deadly and drivers must exercise all necessary caution to prevent serious accidents!
Hildebrand & Wilson
Attorneys at Law
7930 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
1AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: The Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Road Debris, United States, 2011-2014