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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

Who's at Fault in Spilled Cargo Accidents? What to Do as a Truck Accident Victim

Truck accidents that cause cargo spills can sometimes be caused by careless driving, but they can also result from problems with the cargo itself, such as failing to properly secure the load. Accidents involving cargo spills can be considerably more damaging than those involving the entire truck. This is because commercial vehicles can hold up to 80,000 pounds of cargo in addition to its own thousands of pounds of weight.

The probability of serious injuries and fatalities increases when a passenger car collides with a loaded truck. In fact, most of the 4,000 people who died in truck-related accidents in 2019 were passengers of the other vehicle.

However, pursuing compensation for fatalities or injuries following a cargo spill catastrophe can be difficult. In addition to the truck driver, there are more suspects to consider when determining fault, and only that's without considering all the other potential contributing variables. In order to take legal action, it is strongly advised that victims and anyone close to them get in touch with an experienced attorney.

This way, victims can find the proof they need to establish liability in a cargo spill disaster. Personal injury lawyers with expertise in managing trucking-related incidents know what to do after a situation like this. It is likely that there will be several potentially liable parties from whom the victim could ask for compensation. Working with a car accident attorney will guarantee that all responsible parties are held accountable for their actions, ensuring that the victim receives full compensation.

Common Cargo Spill Causes

Common Cargo Spill Causes

A truck losing its load while moving along a highway or other route can be caused by several circumstances. A completely loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, but some trucks are much more dangerous than others. Usually, open-bed trucks are the ones most likely to spill their load. However, a closed-bed truck with an uneven load might lose its cargo if the weights inside of it move abruptly and the driver loses control of the vehicle. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can help answer questions like, "How long does it take to stop a fully loaded semi?"

If the truck driver doesn't properly secure their load, it increases the likelihood of it spilling while on the road. Moreover, unsecured wood, metal, and other materials can fly out of the truck and cause serious harm to a passenger vehicle. In certain situations, the trucking company or the truck driver could be held accountable for truck accidents, but the lawyer must prove liability before filing a claim.

What Types of Cargo Can a Truck Carry?

Commercial trucks must adhere to strict regulations set out by federal law while transporting cargo on American roadways. Unless they are transported in a tank, box, or other similar containers, certain bulk commodities that lack structure or a fixed shape are exempt from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requirements and regulations for safely securing the goods on a cargo vehicle. Moreover, the FMCSA also demands several rules to be applied in case of transporting hazardous items.

All large objects transported on a tractor-trailer must be immobilized to prevent accidents from happening while the vehicle is in motion. Failing to secure the cargo can cause it to spill because the items inside the truck's trailer will start to collide with one another.

If this leakage causes a truck crash, those responsible for the improper cargo loading will be at fault for the injuries and damages caused by the spillage.

Determining Liability After Truck Accidents

Although drivers must adhere to the securement guidelines in the FMCSA cargo securement regulations, they may not always be at fault for cargo spills or may share the responsibility with another party. The following section will explain some of the most common liable parties in trucking accidents.

  • The driver. They can be held accountable for semi-truck accidents if they aren't following road safety rules and regulations, driving recklessly, or being distracted while on the road.

  • The trucking firm. The trucking company can be held accountable if the driver feels pushed to break the traffic rules, such as the weight limit for a load or the pre-establish driving time limit. Moreover, they might also be held accountable if the vehicle malfunctioned and caused the accident, as it means that it wasn't in proper condition to be driven.

  • The shipper or owner of the cargo. They can be held accountable if they fail to guarantee that the cargo was properly loaded or had enough structural integrity before loading.

  • The loading company. If a third-party company was hired to help the driver with loading the cargo but failed to properly secure it, they may share some of the blame for the cargo spills.

  • The city. The people in charge of maintaining the state of the roads can also be held liable for these accidents. Upkeeping and ensuring secure road conditions are the responsibilities of local governments. Therefore, the local municipality where the accident happened can be held accountable if the accident happens due to inadequate road conditions.

Identifying who or what was responsible for the cargo spills might be difficult. However, working with a skilled attorney is frequently required because they can help the victim arrange the facts and documentation needed to establish blame.

How to Investigate a Truck Accident Scene

Looking at cargo spill accidents can be hectic and intimidating for everyone involved. Typically, police officers are the first to arrive at the scene of a truck crash to conduct an investigation and gather evidence. However, this is also the perfect moment to consult attorneys specializing in vehicle accidents.

Gathering Evidence

They will interview witnesses, document the victim's injuries, and take pictures of the site and the damaged cars. In order to evaluate the damage and start the claims procedure, the insurance company must also be present at the site.

Gathering as much evidence as possible at the scene is essential, including pictures, witness statements, and any other pertinent paperwork.

With this proof, the parties at blame will be held accountable for any injuries, property damage, or other truck accident-related damages.

Cleaning Up

After everything has been documented and those involved in the accident have been taken to the hospital, cleanup teams go to the scene of the cargo spill to store and clean the spilled products. Moreover, the authorities will look at the reason for the leakage, the type of cargo, and the steps the trucking company takes to avoid such events in the future. The most important thing is to prevent more accidents like these.

Anyone involved in a cargo spill accident must stay at the scene until the authorities have finished their investigation. In addition, even if a wound doesn't seem too severe, it is crucial to seek medical assistance because not all wounds will appear immediately after a crash.

Finding a Truck Accident Lawyer

In order to safeguard the victim's rights and interests after a spilled cargo disaster, the best thing to do is to immediately get legal counsel. Moreover, suppose the victim wants to further understand their legal alternatives and the evidence needed to establish negligence. In that case, it is crucial to connect with an attorney who can analyze their case and offer a free first consultation.

Additionally, a lawyer could help the victim gather the evidence needed to back up the case, speak with witnesses, and create a compelling case to hold the negligent parties accountable for all the personal injuries, property damage, or other damages resulting from the accident.

All of these reasons explain why it is so important to speak with a Dallas truck accident attorney as soon as possible following the accident, especially when considering the statute of limitation for filing a personal injury lawsuit.

What If the Truck Driver Didn't Cause the Accident?

What If the Truck Driver Didn't Cause the Accident?

The driver or the carrier must have acted negligently to be liable for the accident. However, in some cases, these parties could not be held responsible. This usually happens if the driver doesn't directly or indirectly cause the accident.

A good example is when a truck and a passenger car collide and the truck swerves and flips over. It is very likely that a portion of the truck's contents will leak, damaging a third automobile. The motorist that collided with the truck is accountable for the third driver's damages as long as the commercial truck driver completely followed the regulations for securing loads and wasn't negligent or reckless.

However, even if another motorist was at fault for the accident, the trucker or carrier could still be held responsible for the damages sustained by the third driver if they failed to properly secure the goods.

When filing a claim for personal injury cases, the victim and their attorney must determine liability for the case, which can be challenging in commercial truck accidents. In rare circumstances, even the wounded party could be held accountable. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also answer questions like, "Who's at fault in rear-end truck accidents?"

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys - Cargo Spills Specialists

Truck accident victims go through a lot after a cargo spill accident. Therefore, they are entitled to seek compensation from the trucking companies or commercial trucks liable for their damages. That's why the Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys are here to go to war for their clients and make sure the truck drivers are held liable for not following the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) cargo securement regulations and putting other vehicles at risk.


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