According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, trucking cargo shipped throughout the United States weighed almost 11,902 million tons. With that much weight moving back and forth, securing it to the truck is the most critical aspect. Both state and federal regulations work to ensure that the truck and its trailer are in good condition, the cargo is secured correctly, and the driver is adequately trained. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in serious accidents.
Regulations for Transporting General Cargo
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for regulating the transportation of cargo by commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in the United States. In the FMCSA's Driver's Handbook on Cargo Securement, one out of three securement conditions must be met for all types of cargo.
- The cargo must be "fully contained by structures of adequate strength."
- The cargo must be "immobilized by structures of adequate strength or a combination of structure, blocking, and bracing to prevent shifting or tipping."
- The cargo must be "immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle by tiedowns along with" other particular securement methods.
Protection Against Braking and Accelerating
In most cases, when a truck loses its cargo, the cause is a combination of sudden braking or sharp turns with the improperly secured load. The FMCSA has outlined the requirements for how much force cargo securement systems should be able to withstand in a particular direction:
- Forward Direction (braking) - 0.8g Deceleration
- Rearward Direction (reversing) - 0.5g Acceleration
- Lateral Direction (turning) - 0.5g Acceleration
These values (of the force of gravity as it relates to acceleration and deceleration) were chosen by researchers analyzing the performance of commercial motor vehicles. A typical loaded truck ideally would never come close to reaching those numbers.
Establishing Liability for Cargo-Related Accidents
Yet, with the precise requirements set by the FMCSA, accidents still happen where cargo becomes loose and inflicts severe damage. In some cases, it may be challenging to determine who is at fault when a truck loses its cargo. However, there are a few general principles that can help to guide the determination of liability.
Was the Cargo Secured Properly? - If the cargo was not appropriately secured before it left its origin point, the driver (or whoever is responsible for ensuring a secure load) could be liable.
Was the Accident Caused by Mechanical Failure - If a secured load was then made loose due to a catastrophic accident resulting from a defective part, the manufacturer of the truck may hold an amount of liability.
Negligent Actions of the Driver. - If the driver was careless or recklessly drove in a way that contributed to the loose cargo, they may be held liable.
Truck Accident Attorneys in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Truck accidents are unfortunately all too common on today's busy highways. If you or a loved one has been involved in such an accident, you know firsthand the devastating effects they can have. The truck accident attorneys at McGinn, Montoya, Love & Curry, P.A. can help. We have successfully represented many clients who have been injured in truck accidents, and we will put our experience and knowledge to work for you.
If you have been involved in an accident with a large truck, call us today at (505) 405-4441 or fill out our form online for a free initial consultation.