We see them every day. Big trucks hauling stuff. It might be lumber, heavy equipment, cars, or even a house!
This cargo being hauled by a semi can weigh tens of thousands of pounds. If loaded improperly, the cargo can fall off the truck and into the path of other motorists, causing a crash. It can also cause an imbalanced load in the center of gravity of the truck, which also can create an accident.
Cargo that isn’t properly contained, immobilized, and secured can:
- Leak or spill;
- Blow or fall off the truck;
- Fall through a vehicle;
- Become dislodged from the vehicle; or
- Move around in, on, or within the vehicle so that the semi’s stability or maneuverability is adversely impacted.
Big rigs can weigh a max of 80,000 pounds—all that weight can be fatal to another driver in an accident. These big rigs have teams of defense lawyers who mobilize fast to try find ways to minimize responsibility. You should always speak with a trusted Atlanta truck accident lawyer to help you understand just what lies ahead.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says that about 4% of all truck accidents are cargo-related. That makes it one of the Top Ten causes of semi accidents. Another key stat: poorly-loaded cargo is the highest percentage of relative risk for a semi accidents at 56.3%. So, while 4% sounds pretty insignificant, it can cause substantial damage, injury, and even death if a truck’s cargo shipment shifts or breaks free.
Semis that are carrying cargo have specific rules that they must follow from the FMCSA. These Cargo Securement Rules state that all loads must be “firmly immobilized or secured” by utilizing tie-downs, shoring bars, or another mechanism of adequate strength. In addition, truck drivers must also use an appropriate amount of tie-downs for the length and weight of their specific load.
Failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in the loss of control of the truck, a rollover accident, or a spill of the cargo onto the roadway.
What Are the Requirements in Georgia for Semi Cargo Loads?
The 2019-2020 Georgia Commercial Drivers Manual says that whether or not a truck driver loads and secures the cargo his- or herself, the driver is responsible for:
- Inspecting the cargo;
- Recognizing overloads and poorly balanced weight;
- Knowing the cargo is properly secured and doesn’t obscure the driver’s view ahead or to the sides; and
- Knowing the truck’s cargo doesn’t restrict the driver’s access to emergency equipment.
Also, a driver who intends to carry hazardous material must also have a hazardous materials endorsement and pass the hazardous materials test.
What are Some of the Frequent Loading Mistakes Drivers and Trucking Companies Make?
The FMCSA wrote an entire book that describes the methods semi drivers, trucking companies, trailer owners are to follow to reduce the risk of cargo-related accidents.
In some semi accidents, the equipment used for securing the load is defective, which involves the manufacturer of those tie-downs, shoring bars, load bars, stabilizers, rachets, or chains. It also may be the responsibility of the company loading the cargo to ensure that the freight is safely contained, immobilized, and secured.
But in most cases, the truck driver fails to take the proper precautions and negligent in his or her loading practices, which places other motorists and their passengers at risk.
Some common loading oversights include:
- Using the wrong size and strength tie-down;
- Using worn-out or broken tie-downs or rachets;
- Loading the semi cargo unevenly;
- Loading over the semi over the legal limits;
- Obstructing the semi driver’s view with the load;
- Improper blocking and bracing; and
- Failing to check the loading work of others.
Any of these can cause a load to shift and fall, resulting in an accident.
Speak to an Experienced Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney
Loose cargo that falls off a big rig can cause serious injury or death to Georgia motorists.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a semi carrying materials that fall off, you should speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer who has successfully resolved similar types of cases. You should work with an experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyer. Contact Tobin Injury Law, and we will work to get you the compensation you deserve. We know what to look for when suing a trucking company.
You can contact an Atlanta truck accident attorney 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 404-JUSTICE (404-587-8423) or using our online contact form. Tobin Injury Law offers free consultations, and we’ll be glad to answer your questions.