Federal Cargo Laws to Know About

While many truck accidents are caused directly by truck drivers, sometimes unsecured loads can contribute to crashes, too. When cargo shifts in a truck, it can create balance issues that lead to trucks tipping over or the cargo falling off the truck entirely. There are laws in place that are designed to keep drivers and others on the road safe—the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all motor carriers to use cargo securement devices to prevent cargo from shifting on trucks or falling out during transportation, for example.

The FMCSA even has requirements and instructions for different types of cargo, which all trucking companies and drivers are required to know and follow, including:

  • Automobiles, vans, and light trucks
  • Concrete pipe
  • Hazardous materials
  • Shipping containers
  • Boulders
  • Logs
  • Metal coils
  • Paper rolls
  • Lumber and other building products
  • Crushed vehicles
  • Heavy equipment and machinery

When trucking companies and drivers violate these specific requirements, they can be fined. Any accidents that cause injuries and deaths will lead to criminal charges, as it’s the responsibility of motor carriers and drivers to ensure their cargo is properly loaded and secured per FMCSA Section § 392.9.

Types of Cargo Issues That Lead to Truck Accidents

Unsecured loads can lead to different kinds of truck crashes and injuries. Because of the size and weight of trucks as well as the cargo they carry, injuries tend to be extremely serious or fatal. People injured in cargo-related truck crashes often sustain internal bleeding, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord and back injuries, and burns, which tend to be permanent and can impact a victim’s life and future.

Common types of cargo issues that lead to injuries include:

  • Jackknife accidents: When cargo isn’t properly secured and moves around in the trailer, it can create a serious balance issue that eventually leads to a truck folding in on itself on the highway, which often involves other vehicles and anyone else in its path. Jackknife accidents are known to be deadly and can cause crushing injuries.
  • Cargo spills: Unsecured loads can lead to cargo falling off or flying out of the truck, which can either strike another vehicle and cause accidents or lie in the road and create obstacles that drivers might swerve to avoid. When heavy traffic is involved, spilled cargo can lead to a multi-vehicle pileup and severe injuries.
  • Hazardous material spills: Unsecured cargo can be especially dangerous when the cargo is flammable or explosive. Sometimes cargo contains toxic or radioactive materials that can spill or leak from a truck or tanker. Spillage can lead to fires and explosions that can kill or seriously burn victims, including those who are trapped in their vehicles and can’t escape. HazMat spills require specialized teams to clean up.
  • Rollover accidents: A rollover occurs when a truck tips over onto its side or roof, often crushing any vehicles near it and creating roadblocks that can lead to additional crashes. The risk of a rollover is significantly increased when unsecured cargo shifts and creates an imbalance in the trailer of the truck.

What Should I Do After My Accident?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident caused by an unsecured load, the most important thing you can do is prioritize your safety by getting to the side of the road and calling for medical attention, as well as calling the authorities. Make sure you and other victims are freed from the wreckage in case the cargo is hazardous and explodes or catches fire, and if you suspect you’re paralyzed or suffering a spinal injury, it’s crucial that you keep still to avoid causing additional damage.

Once you’ve been treated, you need to hire a law firm that can investigate your accident to determine your losses and who can be held liable for damages. While truck drivers and companies are typically to blame, sometimes third-party cargo loaders and others can be at fault, too.

Our team can gather the following evidence on your behalf to support your injury claim:

  • Crash reports, which are filed by the police
  • Photos and videos of the crash scene
  • Witness statements
  • Data from the truck’s black box recorder
  • Truck driver’s activity logs
  • Cargo records from the motor carrier
  • Your medical records and receipts

In addition to building evidence for your claim, we can also handle all communication with insurance adjusters who may be looking to reduce the compensation you deserve for your claim. Protecting you and your rights after a serious injury is our firm’s priority.

Call our unsecured load lawyers if you’ve been injured in Indianapolis after a truck accident at 317-488-5500. Your consultation is free.