Truck Accidents Caused by Unsecured Loads in Arizona

Were you hurt in an accident caused by an unsecured load on a commercial truck, dump truck, or other large vehicle? If its driver or another party was to blame, they could owe you money for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. But to get this compensation, you must file a truck accident claim or lawsuit.

The proven truck accident attorneys at Swenson & Shelley have extensive experience handling commercial motor vehicle accident cases throughout Arizona. Founding attorney Kevin Swenson is one of a small number of the nation’s lawyers board-certified in truck accident law, giving our law firm an advantage over trucking companies and insurers who fight to keep payouts low by denying and dismissing valid claims. Contact us today for a free consultation with a Phoenix truck accident lawyer.

What is an Unsecured Load?

Commercial trucks transport various materials that need proper securement to prevent accidents. An unsecured load is any freight not properly stowed with approved devices to keep the load from shifting during transit. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates the interstate trucking industry, outlines approved methods for securing cargo that motor carriers must follow.

Ensuring that cargo is fastened securely is essential to prevent truck accidents. Unsecured loads can shift in transit, making rigs more difficult to control. In addition, falling cargo could strike other motorists and cause serious collisions or multi-car accidents.

Regulations on Cargo Loads

FMCSA’s rules for securing truck loads require cargo to be secured on or within the vehicle by one or any combination of the following:

  • Structures within the truck or trailer with sufficient strength to hold the cargo
  • Loose items to support the cargo and keep it in place
  • Inflatable bags to fill gaps between pieces of cargo or the cargo and the trailer wall
  • Shoring bars
  • Tiedowns

FMCSA also requires any freight that can roll to be restrained by chocks, wedges, a cradle, or other equivalent equipment.

Arizona laws also address cargo securement. In Arizona, “a person shall not drive or move a vehicle on a highway unless the vehicle is constructed or loaded in a manner to prevent any of its load from dropping, sifting, leaking or otherwise escaping from the vehicle.” The law also prohibits motorists from driving unless their loads are securely fastened to prevent them from loosening and detaching.

Truck Accidents Caused by Unsecured Loads

Unsecured truck loads can cause dangerous conditions, severe injuries to motorists, and damage to the road itself. Debris can fly out of the top and hit a vehicle following the truck. Tractor-trailer doors may be forced open by shifting cargo, causing its contents to spill out the back of the trailer. If the load moves, it can throw the truck off balance, making collisions, jackknifes, and rollovers more likely. Hazardous materials, including solids, liquids, and gases, can also escape in an unsecured truck load accident, making road conditions slippery and increasing the risk of toxic exposure for anyone nearby.

Cargo Doesn’t Have to be Heavy to be Dangerous

Cargo does not have to weigh much for it to be dangerous. An object weighing just 20 pounds will strike with a half-ton of force when traveling at 55 miles per hour. The greater the impact, the greater the likelihood of severe injuries in a truck accident.

Improperly secured cargo can cause damage even when it doesn’t hit a vehicle. If a truck’s contents spill out onto the road, other drivers may be unable to avoid hitting it, or they may cause accidents as they swerve to avoid the debris.

FMCSA securement rules apply to all types of cargo, with few exceptions. If you sustained injuries in a crash involving unsecured cargo, a truck accident attorney from Swenson & Shelley can discuss your options for pursuing compensation.

Proving Liability in an Unsecured Truck Load Accident in Utah

Those who cause crashes in Utah are liable — or legally responsible — for the consequences. In an unsecured cargo accident, the party(s) who had a duty to secure the cargo and inspect it regularly could owe you money. Determining the responsible parties is central to establishing liability and recovering compensation.

Self-employed truck drivers or independent contractors might be individually liable for failing to secure the loads they transport. In other cases, loading crews or cargo/trailer owners could be responsible for failing to secure the load properly. Furthermore, employers are usually liable for their employees’ actions that fall within the scope of their employment, meaning that the big trucking companies can be held responsible for many unsecured load accidents.

Ultimately, you need an experienced lawyer to review the evidence and identify who could be liable for the accident that harmed you. Examples of evidence might include:

  • Loading manifests
  • Cargo inspection reports
  • Bills of lading
  • Employment documents
  • Eyewitness accounts
  • Expert testimony
  • Debris from the roadway
  • Police accident reports
  • Photos and videos from the accident scene

Average Settlement Amount for Unsecured Load Truck Accidents

It is impossible to estimate how much money you could secure through a settlement with the at-fault party(s) without reviewing the facts of your case. Motor carriers are required to carry minimum amounts of liability insurance by federal law. But depending on the circumstances, you could pursue money from multiple parties, not just the trucking company. A truck accident lawyer will place a value on your case after evaluating your past, current, and expected future losses. Then they will negotiate with the insurers for full and fair compensation. If negotiations fall through, you could still pursue the money you need by taking the case to trial.

Contact the Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys at Swenson & Shelley

Trucking laws demand proper cargo securement for a reason. If loose cargo caused a commercial truck accident that hurt you, you deserve to hold the at-fault party responsible for their negligence. Let Swenson & Shelley demand justice and accountability for you. Call or contact us today for a free consultation with an Arizona truck accident attorney.