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Can Truck Cargo Cause Accidents?

Can Truck Cargo Cause Accidents?

Every part of a commercial truck needs to be in top condition in order to minimize the chances of a truck accident. Although the brakes and tires are often associated with vehicle defects that cause a crash, the cargo loaded onto a semi-truck can be just as problematic.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations allow the average commercial truck to weigh up to 80,000 pounds when factoring in the weight of the vehicle and its cargo. If so much weight is loaded or stacked incorrectly, it can affect the vehicle’s center of gravity and the truck driver’s overall control of it. There is also the risk of unsecured cargo falling off or out of the trailer while in transit.

Rollovers & Jackknife Accidents Caused by Cargo

A top-heavy trailer runs the risk of tipping over whenever the truck turns, changes lanes, or merges quickly. If the weight shifts too much, then it will knock the trailer over and cause the entire vehicle to roll. Strong gusts of wind can also tip a top-heavy trailer over because the broad side of the trailer effectively acts like a sail on a boat.

Jackknife accidents are another consequence of an overloaded or improperly loaded trailer. An accident is a “jackknife” if it involves the trailer swinging forward as the tractor comes to a stop, folding up the entire vehicle much like a folding jackknife. Back-heavy trailers are more likely to jackknife, especially when the truck driver has a hard-braking event, i.e., slams on the brakes suddenly to avoid stopped traffic.

Rear-End Collisions Due to Overloaded Brakes

The brakes of a commercial truck are powerful, but even they have their limitations. When a truck is overloaded or too much weight is situated over one axle, it can cause a brake failure or dramatically lengthen the time it takes for the truck to come to a complete stop. Many rear-end collisions involving a commercial truck and smaller vehicles can be traced back to brake defects caused by an overloaded trailer.

Loose Cargo in the Road

Vehicles behind an overloaded tractor-trailer can also be in immediate danger if the cargo is unsecured. Loose pieces of products, freight, construction supplies, and so forth can fall off a flatbed trailer or bounce out of a closed trailer. The result is that drivers behind the truck, either directly behind or in adjacent lanes, must suddenly avoid objects that spill into the roadway. Striking even a small object at highway speeds can be catastrophic and lead to severe injuries.

Who is Responsible for Cargo-Related Truck Accidents?

A truck accident caused by unsecured or improperly loaded cargo can cause numerous parties to become liable for the damages. The truck driver is ultimately responsible for the safe operation of their vehicle, but two other parties can also be named as defendants in certain situations: cargo crew and truck part manufacturer.

Consider these liability options after a cargo-related truck accident:

  • Cargo crew: The crew who loaded the cargo onto the truck could be partially liable for any accidents caused by that cargo. Workers who are responsible for loading cargo are generally not employed by the trucking company. Instead, third-party employees, like those who work for retail or grocery stores, are in charge of adding and removing cargo from a trailer once it is in their loading bay.
  • Truck part manufacturer: The FMCSA requires securements to be installed in cargo trailers that can bear certain weights. If those anchor points and tie-downs fail, then it might be the fault of the part manufacturer, not the trucker or the cargo crew.

Investigating Truck Accidents in Phoenix

Were you hurt in a truck accident that you think was caused by an issue with the truck’s cargo? If you live in Phoenix or the surrounding region of Arizona, call (623) 207-1555 and connect with the attorneys of Rafi Law Group, PLLC. We can use our extensive years of experience to investigate your truck accident, figure out its cause, determine liability, and much more. Pursuing every cent of compensation in the name of our clients is our real passion!

Contact us now. Free consultations are available 24/7.

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