Accidents with Poorly Loaded Trucks

Accidents involving poorly loaded trucks can have devastating consequences. A fully loaded commercial truck is absolutely massive in size and can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. So, a collision between a big rig truck and a regular-sized passenger vehicle can be fatal – particularly for the people in the passenger vehicle.

The Dangers Posed by Poorly Loaded Trucks

An improperly loaded truck poses a serious threat – to the person who is operating it as well as other motorists on the roadway.

The Dangers of Improperly Stacked Cargo

For example, if the cargo is not properly stacked, it can shift from one end to the other while the truck is in motion. When it happens, the driver might lose control of the truck, especially if they happen to be driving at high speed, which can result in a rollover accident. If the vehicles behind the truck fail to react quickly, they might crash into the truck as well.

Similarly, unevenly loaded cargo can also cause the trailer to lose control and swing away from the cab, resulting in a jackknife accident. If other motorists fail to brake or swerve away in time, they might crash into the truck. In some cases, the trailer – while swinging at an outward angle from the cab – could crash into other vehicles with catastrophic consequences.

Also, an unevenly stacked load can severely restrict the driver’s ability to control the truck, especially while making turns or while making sudden, evasive maneuvers to avoid an accident.

The Dangers of Not Securing the Cargo

An improperly secured cargo also poses a major safety hazard, especially to other motorists on the roadway.

For instance, if the cargo is not braced and tied down properly, it might come loose while the truck is in motion. When it happens, the driver might try to maneuver the truck to avoid the cargo from spilling out. While doing so, they might lose control of the truck and crash into other vehicles.

In some cases, the cargo might spill out of the truck and onto the road. The falling cargo might partially or fully block the view of the vehicles behind the truck, which might cause them to crash into the truck or into each other, resulting in a massive pileup.

In some other cases, the improperly secured cargo might come loose and fall onto other vehicles. It can cause the vehicles to lose control and collide into each other, resulting in a multi-vehicle pileup.

Mistakes to Avoid While Loading and Securing Cargo

  • Loading the cargo without knowing the truck’s gross vehicle weight rating
  • Stacking the cargo too close to the edge of the flatbed
  • Stacking the cargo at the back end of the trailer, causing it to push against the door
  • Loading the cargo in an uneven manner
  • Stacking the cargo too high
  • Using old or worn-out ropes to secure the cargo
  • Lack of proper restraints
  • Not securing the tarps
  • Using a small cargo net that does not cover the entire load
  • Tying down the cargo only at one end

Determining Liability in Accidents Involving Poorly Loaded Trucks

Depending on the factors or circumstances that led to the accident, the truck company, the cargo company, the truck driver, or all of them can be held liable for the damages resulting from the accident.

Generally speaking, the trucking and/or cargo company can be held liable under the following circumstances:

  • If they forced the driver to drive an overloaded truck
  • If they forced the driver to operate the truck for more than 11 hours without taking any break
  • If they failed to inspect, repair, and maintain the truck properly
  • If they failed to follow OSHA’s safety standards for loading and securing the cargo

The driver can be held liable for the accident under the following circumstances:

  • If the driver was drunk or under the influence of prescription pills or drugs at the time of the accident
  • If the driver was texting, talking on the phone, chatting with the passenger, eating, or otherwise distracted at the time of the accident
  • If the driver was speeding at the time of the accident

If the accident was caused as a result of defective parts, the manufacturer or distributor of the faulty products can be held liable as well.

Truck Accident Lawyers in Alabama

For more than 20 years, the personal injury attorneys at Mann & Potter, PC have successfully represented countless truck accident victims in Alabama. Our attorneys are highly skilled, experienced, and are rated highly by our clients as well as our peers.

If you or any of your loved ones are injured in a poorly loaded truck accident, we can assess the damages caused by the accident, file a claim or lawsuit to seek damages from the parties whose negligence or deliberate actions caused the accident, and ensure that you are fully compensated for your injuries and other losses.

You can contact our firm at 205-879-9661 for a free consultation with one of our lawyers. 

Dangers of Speeding Trucks

Because 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers are so heavy and large, it is vital that truck drivers operate the vehicles with the highest level of attention and care. Many operators mistakenly believe that there is nothing wrong with speeding. While the legal penalties associated with driving over the posted limited aren’t anything close to a DUI, the lifelong consequences for accident victims can be the same or worse.

Statistics show that not only do speeding trucks cause serious crashes with injuries, but also claim lives. In Alabama alone, there were over 7,500 trucks involved in crashes in 2017, and speeding was listed as the specific cause in 356 of them. However, it was no doubt a secondary cause in the majority of other accidents as well.

Why Speeding Trucks Are So Dangerous

There is a common misconception about the definition of speeding. While it is true that speeding refers to driving faster than the posted speed limit, it can also mean driving a truck too fast for current conditions. For example, operating a truck on a road with a 65-mph speed limit when that speed would be unsafe in a blizzard or heavy thunderstorm.

Few things are as dangerous as a truck that is speeding down the road. The NHTSA reports that speed is a contributing factor in one-third of fatal accidents. The danger is compounded for everyone on the road when the vehicle speeding is an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer. Some of the reasons that speeding trucks are so dangerous include:

  • Increased stopping distance. 18-wheelers need much more distance to stop than the average vehicle. When there is excessive or inappropriate speed involved, the distance required to stop will be even greater.
  • Difficulty turning. Large trucks must make wide turns and need to drastically reduce speed to navigate corners. If the driver is speeding, they might overcorrect or overshoot a turn.
  • Shifting cargo. The vibrations caused by excessive speed can cause a truck’s cargo to shift, which can unbalance the vehicle. This increases the chance of a rollover accident.
  • Increased jackknife and rollover risk. Tractor-trailers have a high center of gravity, so they are already at risk of rollover and jackknife accidents, but high speeds increase this risk.
  • Truck tires not made for high speed. The Associated Press published a story revealing that most commercial trucks have tires that aren’t meant for high speeds. Specifically, large truck tires are designed to be driven at 75 mph or less, so higher speeds can increase the odds of a blowout.
  • More difficult to control. Large trucks are harder to control at higher speeds. Not only will the operator have less time to react to unexpected events and road conditions, but the truck is also limited in maneuverability at high speeds.

The Department of Transportation Regulations on Speeding

Truck drivers have a variety of reasons for speeding, and none of them are justified. Some might want to make a delivery deadline and others are simply frustrated with the traffic on the road. The FMCSA has issued regulations meant to keep commercial trucks from speeding in dangerous conditions.

Under the rules, trucks are supposed to slow the speed and use extreme caution, regardless of the posted speed limit, when the following scenarios are present:

  • A truck is entering a curve in a road;
  • A truck is driving with a fully-loaded trailer;
  • A truck is driving through a work or construction zone;
  • The weather creates hazardous road conditions; or
  • When pulling off an exit ramp.

If you’ve been involved in an accident with a truck where speed was a factor, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses.

How a Qualified Truck Accident Attorney Can Help After a Crash

An accident with a big rig can be incredibly traumatic, and most victims of these crashes find themselves overwhelmed by the claims process and other obstacles suddenly in their path. Between speaking with insurance adjusters, doctors, and trying to recover from your injuries, this can be a difficult time.

At Mann & Potter, P.C., we have extensive experience guiding people just like yourself through this legal process so you can focus on reclaiming your life. Our legal team will not only protect your rights to recovery from the responsible parties, but also speak directly with the insurance companies so that you don’t have to. If you or someone you care about has been injured in a crash with a commercial truck, our qualified Alabama personal injury attorneys know what it takes to investigate these matters and pursue the just compensation you need and deserve. Contact our Birmingham office now at 205-879-9661 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation.