When Unsecured Truck Cargo Causes an Accident

There are many ways that regular drivers can be harmed or killed in truck accidents. Few accidents are as shocking as accidents caused by unsecured or unbalanced cargo, though. This should be a very easy problem to prevent, yet tens of thousands of accidents occur each year because of cargo issues. Below are some of the problems drivers encounter.

Dangerous Spilled or Flying Cargo
Anything coming off of a moving vehicle at highway speeds can be dangerous for other motorists – even a pea-sized rock hitting one’s windshield can cause damage. Trucks often carry either large items or many small items. Because of how high semi-trailers sit above the roadway, any loose items that spill out could easily hit or land on other vehicles.

Unsecured cargo that escapes the truck could cause a number of injurious or deadly scenarios, including:

  • Large items penetrating the windshield or sunroof on a car and directly harming or killing the passengers inside
  • Cargo spilling onto the road and forcing other vehicles to swerve out of the way, greatly increasing the risk of a crash
  • Liquids spilling onto the road, creating slippery surfaces for other vehicles
  • Viscous liquids spilling onto the windshields of other vehicles, immediately obstructing the driver’s vision
  • Very large items (such as tree logs) could detach from a specialty rig and completely crush neighboring vehicles

Unbalanced Weight Leading to Overturn Accidents and Other Problems
Trucks are very heavy when filled with cargo. Cargo is so heavy, in fact, that it must be distributed evenly in order to be safe. Even when a truck’s trailer doors prevent items from falling out, an unbalanced load can cause real problems, including overturn accidents. You would likely see this occur on a cloverleaf style highway exit when the truck driver is making a sharp turn at a relatively high speed.

If the cargo is unbalanced, over weight limits, or both, jackknifing can occur. When a truck driver slams on his or her brakes, the load can shift and push the trailer sideways (perpendicular to the cab). The cab continues to drive forward while the trailer drags across multiple lanes of traffic.

Spilled Hazardous Materials
If hazardous materials are in containers on a normal semi-truck, all of the hazards listed above can apply. There is the extra danger of exposure to the hazardous materials after they spill off the truck, though. Some may be highly flammable, increasing the risk of an explosion or fire. Others may cause respiratory distress or other health problems to those who get too close to them.

Who Is Responsible for Proper Load Security?
Truck safety is the responsibility of everyone along the trucking supply chain. This includes truck drivers, trucking companies, those who load trucks, and companies that manufacture load-securing equipment. Any and all of these parties may be named as defendants in a lawsuit, depending on the facts of the case.

Contact A Lawyer to Discuss Your Case
If you have been seriously injured in any kind of commercial truck accident, a truck accident lawyer, like a Virginia truck accident lawyer, is there to help. To learn more about your rights and legal options, contact an attorney today to set up an initial consultation. 

Thanks to Martin Wren, P.C. for their insight into how unsecured truck cargo can cause an accident.

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