Commercial trucks transporting cargo are a common sight on Louisiana roads. These large semi-trucks and delivery trucks transport goods to businesses and homes throughout the state, traveling thousands of miles each year.
When cargo is improperly secured and an accident occurs, serious injuries can result. Victims involved in a truck accident can have broken bones, internal bleeding, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, or other conditions requiring extensive medical care.
If you’ve been injured by a commercial driver carrying improperly secured cargo, you’re entitled to compensation for your injuries. This includes compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any associated property damage. However, it is vital that you understand how to protect your right to a fair settlement.
How Improperly Loaded Cargo Causes Accidents
Drivers are supposed to follow a number of safety precautions when transporting cargo, including using a minimum number of tie-downs, calculating the aggregate working limit for a cargo securement system, and following commodity-specific cargo securement rules. Drivers who fail to abide by the guidelines set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) face significant financial penalties even if they do not cause an accident.
FMCSA rules are important because there are three primary ways in which improperly loaded cargo on a commercial truck can result in an accident:
Cargo Falls Off The Truck
When cargo falls off the truck, it can strike the vehicle behind it or land in the road and force the vehicle behind it to swerve. On a busy interstate, this could easily lead to an accident involving multiple vehicles.
Cargo Starts To Shift
If cargo starts to move inside the truck, this changes the weight distribution in the vehicle. This makes it very easy for the driver to lose control, especially if he is a new and relatively inexperienced commercial driver.
Freight Extends Off The Trailer
When freight sticks too far off a trailer on one or both sides, the occupants of vehicles that are passing or in adjoining lanes are at risk.
Additional risks are involved when drivers fail to properly secure hazardous materials. Flammable materials can cause the scene of a crash to ignite. Chemical burns, respiratory damage, blindness, or poisoning from accidental ingestion are possibilities, as well.
Determining liability for accidents involving commercial truck drivers is more complicated than determining liability in a typical car accident. Potentially liable parties include:
The Driver Of The Truck
Inexperience, fatigue, or distraction may have caused the driver to make errors in securing cargo.
The Person Or Company In Charge Of Loading And Securing The Cargo
Anyone loading and securing cargo is required to follow standard safety protocols.
The Company That Employs The Driver Or The Truck Owner’s Parent Company
If the driver was not properly trained or pushed to work excessive hours, the trucking company could be legally responsible.
The Manufacturer Of The Truck Or A Defective Truck Part
Sometimes, defects can contribute to problems in securing the cargo.
If you hire an experienced truck accident attorney, he will use several different forms of evidence to determine who is liable for your injuries. This includes testimony from witnesses, law enforcement reports, accident photos, video, opinions from an accident reconstructionist, and records from the trucking company.
In many cases, there may be claims filed against multiple parties. If multiple parties are at fault, each individual or company will be responsible for a percentage of your total accident-related damages. If you are partially at fault, your percentage of fault will be subtracted from your total recovery.
Protecting Your Right to a Fair Recovery
Trucking companies have teams of lawyers working on their behalf to minimize their liability for the harm they’ve caused. Without someone who can advocate for your needs, you risk receiving a settlement that doesn’t fully compensate you for your injuries.
If you will require ongoing medical care and/or suffer a loss of earning potential due to the truck accident, it’s vital that you consult an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Louisiana allows you one year after the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim, but valuable evidence can become harder to locate as time passes.
Have You Been Injured in a Louisiana Truck Accident?
If you've been injured in a truck accident, you need to speak with an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online, or call our Alexandria office to schedule your free consultation.