Recovering Damages for Car Accidents Caused by Spilled Cargo


Personal Injury Attorneys Blog
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Truck Accident AttorneysAlthough most people associate car accidents with driver error, such as speeding, failing to yield at an intersection or falling asleep at the wheel, thousands of car crashes are also caused by collisions with spilled cargo. In fact, in early May, a dump truck caused a two-vehicle collision when it overturned and spilled thousands of pounds worth of sand onto the roadway.

These types of accidents tend to result in especially serious injuries, so if you were injured in a crash involving a cargo spill, you should speak with an experienced car accident attorney who can help you collect the compensation that you deserve.

The Importance of Properly Securing Cargo

Most cargo is shipped via commercial truck, which means that drivers must comply with federal regulations regarding safe loading and unloading procedures. According to these rules, cargo must be immobilized on or within a truck by tie-downs, straps, ropes, tarps, or shoring bars. Furthermore, the number of restraints that must be used is predetermined and depends on the type and size of the cargo. For example, cargo that is less than five feet long and weighs less than 1,100 pounds, must be secured with at least one tie-down. As the weight and length of a cargo item increases so does the number of tie-downs that must be utilized. Finally, if a tie-down could break where it touches an article of cargo, the driver must use edge protection to resist abrasion, cutting, and crushing. Cargo that is likely to roll during transit must also be immobilized using specially manufactured wedges, chocks, or cradles that help prevent shifting.

Unfortunately, even cargo that has been properly loaded can come loose during a rollover or other type of severe truck collision. Recognizing the dangers posed by these situations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created special rules for securing dangerous cargo, which includes:

  • Concrete pipes;
  • Building materials, such as packaged and dressed lumber;
  • Freight containers;
  • Vehicles that weigh less than 10,000 pounds each;
  • Logs;
  • Metal coils, paper rolls, and boulders that weigh upwards of 5,000 pounds; and
  • Heavy equipment and machinery that weigh more than 10,000 pounds individually.

Establishing Liability

Because drivers are required to comply with specific rules regarding the loading and unloading of cargo, when these individuals fail to follow these rules, they can be held liable for resulting injuries. Additionally, if a truck driver is employed by a trucking company, the company itself can generally be held liable for the driver’s negligent conduct. Some of the other ways that a trucking company could be liable for an accident involving spilled cargo include the following:

  • Failed to adequately train their drivers on proper loading procedures;
  • Failed to enforce the regulations by not requiring drivers to inspect their loads or use proper loading procedures;
  • Did not use reasonable care during the hiring process; and
  • Performed inadequate truck maintenance, which led to an accident and subsequent cargo spill.

Truck companies and drivers whose negligence led to a cargo spill can be required to compensate injured parties for their medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.

Speak to an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today

To speak with a knowledgeable and compassionate car accident attorney in Virginia about your case, please contact Emroch & Kilduff at (804) 358-1568. You can also reach us by initiating a live chat with a member of our legal team.