When Cargo Causes Crashes: Seeking Compensation for Debris Spills

When Cargo Causes Crashes: Seeking Compensation for Debris SpillsLarge trucks transport essential cargo across the United States daily. While most deliverables are completed safely, cargo spills can lead to severe and catastrophic car accidents. These incidents often result from human error, such as improper loading or securing of cargo.

What causes cargo accidents?

There can be many causes of a truck cargo accident. However, most of the time, it is due to a person or party’s errors or mistakes. Here are some of the most common reasons for these types of crashes:

  • Failure to secure loads: Improperly secured loads can spill onto the roadway, cursing dangerous conditions. This is especially hazardous with items like liquids, chemicals, or heavy objects.
  • Loading or stacking load too high: Companies sometimes overload trucks to save on trips. This practice can lead to imbalance and difficulty maneuvering, increasing the risk of spills and accidents. Unbalanced or shifting cargo: Unevenly distributed cargo can shift during transport, making it hard for drivers to control the truck, especially when turning or changing lanes.
  • Leaving cargo uncovered: Trucks carrying loose items, such as gravel, must cover their loads to prevent debris from flying out. Uncovered loads can obstruct the roadway and hit other vehicles.
  • Faulty, defective, or broken equipment: In order to properly secure cargo, various equipment is used, such as tie-downs, straps, and other types of restraints. However, if these devices are defective, faulty, or broken, the cargo will likely fall out of the truck, spilling onto the roadway.
  • Driver mistakes: There are several mistakes that drivers can make, which may cause cargo accidents. Some of these mistakes are turning too fast, speeding, driving while drunk or intoxicated, driving while tired or fatigued, driving distractedly, and more. Even though it is difficult to control and maneuver a large truck, truck drivers must drive carefully, cautiously, and attentively at all times to prevent cargo accidents.
  • Road issues: Road issues, such as potholes, cracking, surface deterioration, and uneven asphalt, can cause cargo crashes. Therefore, if a road has not been properly maintained and a truck driver hits a bump or pothole, it could result in a traumatic and devastating accident, causing the cargo to fly or spill out.

What type of cargo may spill out onto the roadway?

Truck transport various types of cargo, all which can potentially spill and cause accidents:

  • Furniture
  • Food and Beverages
  • Electronics, such as computers and televisions
  • Mattresses
  • Construction equipment and materials, such as wood and stones
  • Home appliances, such as refrigerators and washing machines
  • Gravel, rocks, or cement
  • Chemicals and liquids

Is cargo required to be secured?

It is a federal requirement for cargo to be safely secured. Therefore, it is the truck driver, trucking company, and the loading crew’s responsibility to ensure that a truck is properly loaded and correctly secured. While the loading crew may handle the loading, the truck driver must take the time to inspect and make sure that their load is safely secured before getting into the truck and driving off. This means that the trucking company must have trained and educated the trucker on how to accurately do this before each trip.

According to 49 CFR § 392.9, all cargo must be “properly distributed and adequately secured.”  This law also has a rule in place for all truckers to check their loads “within the first 50 miles after beginning a trip” and within every 150 miles or three hours, whichever comes first, during their route. However, the law does state that this rule does “not apply to the driver of a sealed commercial motor vehicle who has been ordered not to open it to inspect its cargo or to the driver of a commercial motor vehicle that has been loaded in a manner that makes inspection of its cargo impracticable.”

Who can be liable for a cargo crash?

Liability for cargo accidents can be complex due to the involvement of multiple parties. Those potentially responsible include:

  • The cargo loading company or crew
  • The truck driver
  • Trucking company or employers
  • Manufacturer of securing equipment
  • Road maintenance crews
  • Maintenance companies or crews
  • Truck mechanics
  • Trailer owners

Seeking compensation? If you have been involved in a cargo-related accident, consulting a truck accident lawyer is crucial. They will investigate, gather evidence, and identify liable parties to ensure you receive proper compensation. At Glisson Law, our Alton-based truck accident attorneys are experienced in handling complex cargo spill cases. We provide strong representation to navigate the legal challenges and secure compensation you deserve. Call our office or submit our contact form to schedule a free case evaluation today. We help clients across Belleville, Edwardsville, Springfield, St. Clair and Madison Counties, all of Southwestern Illinois, and Missouri.