Truck drivers and trucking companies in Florence, Alabama, must abide by strict federal and state regulations to operate trucks safely and prevent other motorists from getting hurt. When they fail to load and secure cargo properly, innocent people can suffer severe injuries. In fact, hundreds of tractor-trailer accidents involving lost or unsecured cargo occur yearly in the United States.
If you were injured in an unsecured load accident in Florence or elsewhere in Alabama, you might wonder who will pay for your medical bills, lost income, pain, suffering, and other crash-related losses. You should not have to bear the financial burden of someone else’s mistake – especially when that someone is a profitable trucking carrier. You could be entitled to substantial compensation for your injuries and other losses. The attorneys at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., want to help you pursue it.
Our Alabama truck accident lawyers are prepared to investigate the crash, determine who is liable for your injuries, and work tirelessly to maximize your settlement. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation and learn more about your options for pursuing justice.
What Causes Cargo to Become Dislodged?
When a commercial truck’s cargo is improperly secured, it can become dislodged and cause severe accidents by either making the truck unstable or falling onto the roadway. Some common reasons why cargo gets dislodged include:
- Lack of appropriate securement – Trucking companies must secure cargo loads with tie-downs, wedges, chocks, and other gear during transit. When companies or drivers fail to secure cargo appropriately, it can shift dangerously and affect the truck’s center of gravity, possibly causing jackknifing or rollovers that contribute to additional cargo spillage.
- Failure to latch trailer doors – Truckers must also securely close and fasten the doors and other openings on enclosed trailers. If a driver fails to secure their trailer’s doors properly, they can come open in transit, and cargo can spill out.
- Failure to cover loose items – When truckers haul cargo on flatbeds, in dump beds, or other open trailers, they must cover loose items with tarps, straps, or tie-downs. When drivers transport loose, uncovered cargo like gravel or sand, strong winds or bumps in the road can dislodge cargo and cause accidents.
- Exceeding maximum cargo weight limits – Commercial trucks can haul lots of cargo, but even these large vehicles have their limits. When trucking companies or drivers load their trailers beyond a safe capacity, the excess weight can compromise the effectiveness of securement systems and decrease the truck’s maneuverability and traction.
Why Unsecured Cargo Can Cause Crashes in Florence, Alabama
Commercial trucks carry tons of cargo across hundreds or thousands of miles. When truckers do not secure cargo properly, it can lead to serious hazards on the road for several reasons, including:
- Unsecured cargo can roll and shift – Certain cargo, like pipes, logs, and other round objects, can roll around or come loose inside trailers when left unsecured. This uncontrolled movement can affect a truck’s stability, making it more difficult for the driver to control.
- Unsecured cargo can spill onto the road – In some cases, unsecured items can pour out from cargo holds or fall out from under loose coverings and spew onto the street. Falling or flying cargo can strike nearby road users and introduce roadway hazards contributing to secondary accidents.
- Trucks have higher centers of gravity – Taller vehicles have higher centers of gravity, which means they are less stable and more prone to toppling over. When truckers drive with unsecured cargo, even small shifts can throw off the truck’s center of gravity and cause jackknifing, rollovers, and loss-of-control wrecks.
Federal Regulations for Securing Truckers’ Loads
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the commercial trucking industry in the U.S. The FMCSA imposes the following securement regulations to reduce the frequency and severity of unsecured cargo accidents:
- Truckers must firmly secure all cargo on or within their vehicles with devices or structures that are strong enough to protect the load from shifting.
- Truckers must secure cargo items prone to rolling with chocks, wedges, cradles, or other structures that prevent lateral movement.
- Trucking companies must use devices and equipment that meet securement criteria, have appropriate minimum load limits, and are in good condition.
- Truckers must observe special requirements when transporting certain types of hazardous cargo, including logs, large boulders, and automobiles.
- Truckers must fasten tie-downs and other securement devices to prevent them from coming loose during transit.
How Our Lawyers Can Prove Liability
When you hire Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., for your unsecured load truck accident claim in Florence, Alabama, we can help you prove the other side’s liability with evidence like:
- Data from the truck’s electronic logging device (ELD)
- Crash data from the truck’s “black box” recording device
- Truck inspection and maintenance records from the driver or company
- The truck driver’s qualifications, training, and work history
- The truck driver’s cell phone and GPS records
- Photos and videos from traffic or dash cameras
- Cargo loading manifests, bills of lading, and other documents
- Collision diagrams from accident reconstruction experts
Types of Damages Available in Florence Truck Accidents
Every truck accident is different, so you should speak to an attorney to calculate the potential value of your case. However, you can typically pursue compensation for the following losses after a truck accident:
- Medical bills for crash-related injuries
- Lost wages from missed time at work
- Reduction of lifetime earning potential
- Pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life
- Out-of-pocket, crash-related expenses
How to Spot Unsecured Loads
If you drive, you will likely encounter a commercial truck with an unsecured load. However, you can steer clear of trucks with dangerously loose cargo and reduce the likelihood of potential accidents by looking out for the following signs of unsecured truck loads:
- Trailer doors that appear to be loosely secured or fly open in transit
- Loose cargo on open trailer beds that is not secured with tie-downs, ropes, chains, clamps, or hooks
- Trailers that seem to sway dangerously around curves or after abrupt stops
- Cargo securement devices that appear worn, ineffective, or about to fail
Contact Our Experienced Alabama Truck Accident Lawyers in Florence
If you would like to speak with a compassionate, down-to-earth attorney about your Alabama truck accident case, contact the law firm of Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., today. Our experienced Alabama truck accident lawyers in Florence look forward to answering your questions and evaluating your case during a free initial consultation.