Unsecured Load Truck Accidents in Utah
If a truck’s cargo comes loose in transit, the results can be catastrophic. Shifting cargo can make a truck unbalanced and more likely to crash. Cargo can also fall off the truck and hit nearby vehicles. Unsecured load accidents can cause severe damage, leading to expensive medical and repair bills, lost wages from time missed at work, and other significant losses.
The Utah truck accident attorneys at Swenson & Shelley PLLC are here to help if you sustained injuries in an unsecured load crash. We have more than 30 years of experience representing Utah’s injured and can fight for the fair compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Truck Crashes Caused by Unsecured Loads
There are five main ways in which unsecured loads or overloaded trucks can cause a crash:
- Cargo moving within the truck’s trailer – Commercial trucks have a high center of gravity, which can create balance issues if people do not take proper precautions when loading the vehicle. Loose cargo in a trailer can shift or sway, throwing the truck off balance. An unbalanced truck is more likely to overturn and cause a driver to lose control.
- Overloaded trucks becoming unbalanced – Regulators set weight limits for commercial trucks to prevent drivers from operating unstable or unbalanced vehicles. When cargo loaders ignore these weight limits, the truck driver becomes more likely to lose control of the vehicle, especially when navigating sharp turns. Overloaded or improperly loaded trucks are also more likely to overturn.
- Cargo falling off a truck – If a truck’s cargo spills onto the road, nearby drivers are in extreme danger. Falling cargo can strike another vehicle directly, or a driver may crash while trying to avoid large objects in their path.
- Tied-down cargo extending beyond the back of a truck – Without proper safeguards, wooden logs and other long, heavy objects can slide when a truck slows down or turns. If the cargo isn’t secured properly and slides past the end of the trailer, it can strike other vehicles traveling behind the truck.
- Jackknife accidents – If a truck driver abruptly brakes, the truck’s cargo can shift and cause the truck’s trailer to swing wide to either side. As the trailer pivots on its hitch and moves toward the driver’s cabin, it may hit other vehicles in its path. These crashes are called jackknife accidents because the trailer’s motion resembles the shape made when someone closes a pocketknife.
Federal Cargo Security Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates the interstate trucking industry, sets the requirements for how to secure loads on trucks in Utah. According to FMCSA rules, a truck’s cargo must 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
Furthermore, FMCSA regulations state that any cargo that is likely to roll must be restrained by chocks, wedges, a cradle, or “other equivalent means.”
Statistics on Unsecured Cargo Accidents
Statistics on unsecured cargo accidents in Utah and nationwide are alarming. At the state level, the Utah Department of Public Safety reports 124 truck crashes involving lost or shifting cargo in one recent year, leading to 13 injuries. Nationally, the FMCSA says there were more than 2,000 truck accidents involving lost or shifting cargo in one recent year.
Furthermore, the debris left on the roadway from unsecured loads can lead to ancillary collisions. A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that debris on the road caused more than 200,000 crashes nationwide over four years. These crashes led to 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths.
Common Types of Unsecured Cargo
Some common types of unsecured cargo that can cause a truck crash include:
- Sheet metal
- Tires or other car parts
Average Settlement Amount for Accidents Caused by Unsecured Loads on Trucks
It is hard to estimate the average settlement for unsecured truck cargo accidents because every case is different. The amount of compensation you could potentially recover after a crash depends on your injuries and financial losses, whether you played any part in the collision, and available insurance coverage. A truck accident attorney can help you recover compensation for:
- Any medical expenses related to the crash
- Your lost wages and reduced future earnings
- Your physical pain
- Your emotional and psychological distress
- Your reduced quality of life due to an injury or disability
- Your damaged personal property
Proving Liability in an Unsecured Truck Load Accident in Utah
To recover compensation after an unsecured load truck accident, you must first identify who caused the crash. The potentially liable parties in these cases may include:
- The truck driver, if they did not make sure the cargo was secure
- The trucking company, if they hired an inexperienced or unqualified driver
- The crew that loaded and improperly secured the cargo
- The company that made the truck, if the accident happened because of a mechanical defect
One key reason to hire a truck accident attorney is that they can better identify and secure the evidence you need to prove the cause of the crash and another party’s liability. Common types of evidence used in unsecured load truck accident cases include:
- Police accident reports
- The truck driver’s logs
- Black box data
- Company records
- Eyewitness accounts
- Expert testimony
- Forensic accident analysis
- Surveillance footage
- Medical records
Call an Experienced Utah Truck Accident Lawyer
Unsecured cargo can lead to accidents that result in devastating injuries. You have the right to compensation after a crash that was not your fault. The team at Swenson & Shelley PLLC stands ready to protect your rights and help you fight for compensation. Call us today or visit our contact page for a free, no-risk case review.