How Liability Works for Improperly Loaded Trucks
When trucks are loaded improperly, other motorists often pay the price. If you’ve fallen victim to one such truck accident caused by poorly secured freight, you’ll need to know who to expect compensation from, but there’s a catch—it’s not always as simple as assuming the trucker is at fault, as there’s a multitude of parties that could have had a hand in loading the truck.
The Dangers of Improperly Loaded Freight
Let’s first go over why improperly loaded freight is such a big deal for the trucking industry, and why it tends to be so dangerous to any motorist near a truck (in any direction):
- Cargo shift. Cargo shift is a problem for any freight carrier, causing 6,000 truck accidents annually, but especially those that may carry large amounts of small or irregular objects; improper storage and insecure cargo could result in shifts in a truck’s center of mass, causing sudden drift, rollovers, or other losses of control.
- Tire blowout. Similarly to cargo shift, when cargo is loaded onto a truck in excess of its weight limits or with too much mass over the rear tires, tire blowout may occur, causing a loss of control while also leaving tire pieces on the road which may cause accidents.
- Direct impact. For open cargo beds, it’s not unheard of for cargo to come completely free and strike vehicles behind a truck, shattering windshields, crumpling hoods, and occasionally directly inflicting serious injuries or death on a vehicle’s occupants.
- Roadway obstructions. According to the AAA, road debris contributes to over 50,000 auto accidents a year, making it one of the most common consequences of improper loading. Loose objects and liquids alike can create hazardous road conditions, forcing other vehicles to swerve and potentially lose control.
- Secondary hazards. If a truck is transporting flammable, toxic, explosive, or otherwise hazardous materials, improper storage or an accident could result in spills and fires that can seriously injure either vehicle’s occupants, emergency responders, or unfortunate bystanders.
Who’s At Fault for Arizona Trucking Accidents
So if you’ve been injured in an Arizona trucking accident as a result of an improperly loaded truck, who’s to blame? As mentioned prior, it’s hard to be sure exactly who’s at fault until a thorough investigation is launched, which an Arizona truck accident attorney can help you with; however, there are usually a few key parties to look to:
- The trucker is, at minimum, partially liable if they’re an independent contractor or were otherwise directly responsible for overseeing the loading of their truck.
- The trucking company may be responsible for the accident if they generally handle the loading process, or if they failed to maintain and repair a fleet vehicle.
- A third-party cargo loading company or independent business might be to blame if they were responsible for loading freight onto a truck, so always ask where the cargo originated from.
- Part manufacturers, while rarely to blame, may be at fault if a cargo securing device (such as a latch, net, strap, etc.) malfunctioned despite appropriate usage.
ELG can help you gather evidence and build a strong case for compensation, so give us a call at (623) 877-3600 to schedule a free consultation with a truck accident lawyer in Phoenix today. Our legal professionals will walk you through every step of the process, helping you reach a stress-free victory and level the playing field against the capable attorneys that trucking companies tend to field, giving you the best odds possible of coming out on top.