Houston Improperly Loaded Cargo Truck Accident Attorneys
At Gibson Hill Personal Injury, our Houston personal injury attorneys understand the steps necessary to hold truck drivers and trucking companies liable for the accidents they cause. If you were in a truck accident caused by improperly loaded cargo, you might be entitled to compensation from an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Commercial trucks transport consumer goods and other materials throughout Texas and the entire country daily. It’s a common sight on major highways and rural streets. These trucks are heavier and bigger than most vehicles, however, and many of them also contain toxic substances that create hazardous conditions for other drivers. If the truck driver doesn’t load their cargo properly, it could slip off the truck and cause a severe accident.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry and provides standards everyone must follow to keep people safe. If truck drivers and their employers don’t follow federal and state laws, someone could suffer significant harm in a crash.
There are various parties you could hold liable if you sustain injuries in a truck accident. The skilled Houston truck accident attorneys at Gibson Hill Personal Injury will thoroughly investigate the cause of your crash and pursue the maximum available compensation. Call us today at (713) 659-4000 to schedule your free consultation.
FMCSA Cargo Regulations
Rules established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) help ensure that truck drivers load their cargo the right way, so it’s secure and doesn’t fall off the truck. Following are some of the rules that truck drivers, trucking companies, and freight companies must follow every time cargo is loaded on the truck.
Applicable Vehicles and Cargo
Commercial trucks refer to those containing a box, tank, hopper, or another device that’s part of the structure. Standard regulations for loading and securement apply to vehicles transporting any cargo type, except ones that lack a fixed shape or structure, such as gases, sand, and liquids.
Any system, part, or structure used to secure cargo must function properly and cannot contain damage or defects. Manufacturing standards apply to the type of tie-downs used, such as webbing, chains, cordage, steel, strapping, or wire rope.
Employees must attach and secure tie-downs, so they don’t become loose, release, open, or unfasten while they’re transporting their cargo. If an item could potentially come in direct contact with a tie-down, there must be edge protection to prevent abrasion or cutting. If they’re using a trailer with rub rails, the load must stay inboard.
There are also rules for the number of tie-downs truck drivers must use for each piece of cargo they load. The number depends on the length and weight of the cargo, as per these guidelines:
- 5 feet or less and a maximum of 1,100 pounds: 1 tie-down
- 5 feet or less and above 1,100 pounds: 2 tie-downs
- Between 5 and 10 feet: 2 tie-downs
- Above 10 feet: 2 tie-downs for the first 10 feet and one for each additional 10 feet
Cargo must not shift or fall off when the trucker slows down or speeds up in any direction. They must load it adequately to meet the following deceleration and acceleration forces:
- 0.5 g acceleration laterally
- 0.5 g acceleration going rearward
- 0.8 g deceleration going forward
Common Truck Accidents Caused by Improperly Loaded Cargo
When cargo isn’t properly secured, loaded for even weight distribution, or is below the weight and size limits, items can fly out of the truck or shift and cause the trailer to become imbalanced. When that happens, the driver could lose control and end up in an accident. Below are the most common truck accidents caused by improperly loaded cargo.
Lost load: A securement system that contains defects, damage, or worn out tie-downs won’t be effective in keeping cargo in place. When the truck driver slams on their brakes or makes a sharp turn, items can shift or fall off the back of the truck.
Jackknife: Jackknifing occurs when the front cab and back trailer swing towards each other to create an angle. Loading cargo above weight limits causes an uneven distribution of weight throughout the vehicle. If the driver needs to brake quickly or maneuver to avoid a hazard, the momentum could cause the vehicle to jackknife.
Toxic chemicals: A fire or explosion is always a risk when truckers are transporting hazardous substances. FMCSA provides guidelines on how to store and transport these materials. Failure to comply could cause a spill during an accident.
Rollover: Loose cargo can shift and bounce around in the trailer, throwing the entire truck off balance. The uneven weight distribution can result in the truck rolling over if the driver crashes into a stationary object.
Tire blowout: Commercial vehicles are heavy. They can weigh up to 80,000 pounds with a full cargo load. That’s why there are weight and size restrictions. Tires can’t handle extra pressure, especially when the driver has to travel long distances. If there’s too much cargo, it could cause the tire to explode and cause a devastating crash.
How to Determine Who’s Liable After a Truck Accident
Improperly loaded cargo is typically the result of negligence. Texas follows a fault system that requires the at-fault party to pay for the victim’s injuries and resulting losses. If you can prove the truck driver or their employer was negligent, you might be able to file a claim with their liability insurance company.
Truck driver negligence can be the result of the following actions:
- Failure to use adequate securement systems
- Driving recklessly or speeding with an unsecured load
- Knowingly utilizing damaged, defective, or worn out tie-downs, straps, cords, or other devices
- Loading cargo beyond the size or weight limits
- Failure to inspect the truck’s stability
- Didn’t take the necessary breaks for inspection and maintenance during the driving shift
Trucking company negligence can be the result of the following actions:
- Failure to perform background checks on new employees
- Lack of training and educational programs
- Hiring an inexperienced or unlicensed truck driver
- Failure to communicate the requirements for cargo loading
- Lack of maintenance and repairs on all securement systems and parts
- Failure to follow FMCSA regulations
Gibson Hill Personal Injury Will Be Your Advocate During Your Legal Case
If improperly loaded cargo led to your accident with a truck driver, you should hire a lawyer and seek medical attention immediately. When you hire us, we’ll handle every step of the process so you can focus on recovering. We know you’re already feeling overwhelmed by the time-consuming legal process. You can depend on us to perform a complete investigation and obtain relevant evidence that proves liability, such as:
- Statements from people who witnessed the crash
- Maintenance and repair logs from the trucking company
- The truck driver’s driving history and qualifications
- Traffic crash report
- Video surveillance footage
- Evidence from the accident scene
- Cargo records
Proving negligence is a complex process. With adequate evidence, we can show the truck driver’s or their employer’s actions were negligent. Negligence is a legal theory that hinges on a duty of care. They’re responsible for providing a duty of care that a reasonable person would under similar circumstances to prevent someone else from suffering harm. If they fail in their duty, they would be negligent for resulting injuries.
Five elements of negligence must exist at the time of the accident:
- Duty: The at-fault party owed you a reasonable duty of care to prevent injuries;
- Breach of duty: They breached their duty of care;
- Cause in fact: If they didn’t load the cargo improperly, you wouldn’t have gotten hurt in an accident;
- Proximate cause: Their actions were the direct cause of your injuries; and
- Damages: You incurred damages.
What Are Damages?
Damages refer to the expenses and intangible losses suffered by an injured party after an accident. When you collide with a commercial vehicle, there will be various damages from treating your injury and dealing with physical and emotional trauma. It creates a financial burden, and you shouldn’t be the one to pay. Gibson Hill Personal Injury will protect your rights to compensation from the at-fault party.
When you file a claim with the truck driver’s or trucking company’s liability insurance company, you could seek damages, such as:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings
- Mental anguish
- Physical impairment or disability
- Pain and suffering
- Out of pocket costs
- Vehicle repair or replacement
Speak to An Experienced Houston Attorney Today
The Houston personal injury lawyers of Gibson Hill Personal Injury have helped countless accident victims just like you secure the compensation they need to recover from their injuries. We serve clients in the Houston area and throughout Texas. We understand the state laws and legal procedures we must follow to build an effective and successful case. We won’t let the insurance company take advantage of you during this difficult ordeal. We’ll fight for the justice you rightfully deserve.
Our team is available 24/7, so you can reach us whenever you need us. You can call at a time that’s most convenient to ask questions or get a status update. We strive to provide dependable services and open communication at all times.
If you were the victim of a truck accident caused by improperly loaded cargo in Houston, contact Gibson Hill Personal Injury immediately. One of our Houston truck accident lawyers will meet you for a free consultation to review your case and advise you on your legal options. Call (713) 659-4000 or fill out our online contact form. We’re ready to help you get on the road to recovery.