How many times have you been driving down the road behind a commercial truck and gotten a sudden chill up your spine just thinking about what could happen if they spilled their load? It is a reality for many vehicles traveling alongside these behemoths delivering goods and raw materials all over the country.
Many of these trucks can be seen crossing lane lines or veering so close to the shoulder of the road that you fear the driver will overcorrect and cause a truck accident. Depending upon the type of truck and cargo being hauled, it could either flip and spill its load or cargo can be flung at a high rate of speed, creating a serious risk of injury or death to other drivers.
Different trucks have different risks
Several different truck designs were created with the purpose of moving different types of cargo. They all come with different rules and regulations for loading and securing the goods or materials they transport not only for the driver’s safety, but for the safety of other drivers on the road.
Some of the more common truck styles and their dangers include:
- Dry van enclosed trailers, which are typically loaded from the rear of the container, are probably the most common truck you encounter on the road. These trucks pose little risk of freight flying randomly off the truck unless it crashes and rolls. Cargo would typically spill from the back or area that splits open on impact sending the contents of the container flying into vehicles or causing drivers to swerve to avoid being hit.
- Flatbed trailers are fully open platforms on wheels that can be loaded with freight on the tip, sides, and rear. Because the cargo being transported is only tied down, there is nothing to preventing goods or equipment from launching into traffic if there’s enough force exerted onto the flatbed. Earlier in November, a California woman was killed when hay bales fell from a flatbed toppling onto her car, which could result in a wrongful death
- Conestoga trailers are side-loading hybrids between enclosed and flatbed trailers but have a tarp that rolls like a curtain to cover its sides. The purpose of these tarps is to protect cargo from damage. If these trailers end up in a crash, the tarp could easily peel away allowing whatever goods or equipment being transported to spill out onto the road. Depending upon the speed and object at the time of crash, you could be driving toward a deadly missile.
- Car carrier trailers are a breed of their own having multiple decks and they come in open and closed versions. Because vehicles sit on sloped surfaces several feet off the ground there are safety requirements limiting the number of cars that can be transported on certain carriers and how they must be secured. When collisions happen, it’s easy for transported vehicles to come loose and fall or roll onto the roadway, adding to the danger for other vehicles immediately entering the crash area.
- Logging trailers, which are loaded from the top with a winch and unloaded by letting them roll off sideways, offer more than just crash spill danger. Because of the nature of this raw material, it is very common for debris to become loose and fly off the truck as it travels down a highway. A medium size twig or rock that suddenly becomes a projectile at 70 miles per hour can break a windshield with ease. In mid-November, a North Carolina man was killed in a collision with a logging truck that overturned and lost its load.
Who could be responsible for a cargo spill that causes injuries?
Truck accidents involving cargo spills can happen for any number of reasons, which means there may be enough fault to go around when you get injured.
- Truckers. Truck drivers who ignore industry regulations for proper maintenance of their vehicles or failing to limit their number of hours in service in compliance with the law can end up causing accidents when they’re drowsy, driving recklessly to make a delivery deadline, or are even driving under the influence of drugs intended to help them stay awake. If the driver’s behavior has caused an accident, he or she could be held liable for your injuries.
- Another driver. If another vehicle cuts off a big rig or otherwise causes a truck collision, that driver may be held accountable for the injuries and damage he or she caused. Whether it’s negligent driving or trying to avoid an object on the road, the driver who was the catalyst for the truck crashing can be added as a party to a personal injury suit.
- Shipping company. If a company responsible for getting goods from one place to another loads the truck improperly so that weight shifts during transport, it can throw a semi off balance even while making a standard vehicle correction or sudden move that ordinarily wouldn’t pose a problem. This could place liability onto the shipper.
- The municipality. When roads are not properly maintained they can create conditions that are ripe for roll overs that can launch cargo into oncoming traffic a causing car accident. If your attorney can prove the road was to blame, they could have fault assigned to them as well.
If you have been injured by truck cargo or debris that has caused an accident, you want a law firm that will provide strong representation against the insurance companies. Schedule your free case evaluation today with the experienced Atlanta truck accident attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP, by calling our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847, our Savannah office at 912-417-3774, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.
Jed Manton is committed to representing individuals and business that have been harmed by the actions of others. With a solid track record, Jed has helped numerous clients who have been seriously injured or who have lost a loved one obtain justice, while holding the wrongdoer accountable.
Read more about Jed D. Manton here.