You probably expect most truck accidents in Virginia to be linked to driver error, and this assumption is largely correct. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Crash Facts 2017 indicates that the top two causes of these collisions relate to the operator’s actions: Improper lane change and following too closely. Still, almost 20 percent of incidents involving large trucks are due to “Other” factors, and unsecured loads fall into this category. Cargo can slip, shift, or fall off the trailer in the presence of loading errors or violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Cargo Securement Rules. When they do, they present a horrific risk of fatalities and injuries to all motorists in the vicinity.
If you were hurt or lost a loved one because of an unsecured load, you should discuss your rights with a Virginia trucking accident attorney right away. Some important information may also be useful.
What Makes a Truck Load Unsafe: Besides FMCSA rules, VDOT has also established regulations on Size, Weight, and Equipment Requirements for any person or entity involving with the loading of cargo. These mandates apply to the driver, shipping companies, trucking employers, and any other parties tasked with proper loading of cargo. The regulations are intended to promote safety on federal and state roadways, but carelessness can lead to severe truck accidents where:
- The 18-wheeler’s cargo exceeds the designated weight or size restrictions;
- The relevant parties failed to conduct inspections on truck, trailer, and cargo stability;
- The person or entity that loaded the cargo was not properly trained or certified; or,
- There are defects in the straps, harnesses, or other equipment used to secure the cargo.
In addition, otherwise-properly loaded cargo may become unsecured and unsafe due to driver actions while operating the truck. This may be the case where the truck operator is speeding, taking curves too quickly, driving erratically, or suffering from fatigue.
Safety Risks of Unsecured Cargo: One of the biggest threats to other motorists is when cargo falls off the truck’s trailer because the load wasn’t properly secured. Items and debris may be tossed at following vehicles, potentially penetrating the windshield and impacting the occupants. Even if there is no direct impact, cargo can create a visibility hazard or lead a motorist to swerve – both of which could lead to a collision with other vehicles or stationary objects.
Another safety risk of unsecured cargo exists when the load becomes imbalanced, causing the truck driver to lose control. The semi and trailer could jackknife or overturn, potentially colliding with other vehicles.
Speak to a Virginia Trucking Accident Lawyer About Your Claim
Serious and catastrophic injuries can result from a commercial vehicle’s unsecured load, further compounding the already-complex challenges in a truck accident case. Instead of adding to the stress, allow our team to handle the claims process. Please contact our Buckingham, VA office today to schedule a consultation with Herbert E. Maxey Jr. We can explain your legal remedies after reviewing your circumstances.