Lost Loads: Unsecured Truck Cargo Leads to Tens of Thousands of Crashes

White truck on the asphalt rural road in the polar night

On American roadways, passenger cars far outnumber commercial trucks but commercial trucks pose a greater risk of serious crashes. However, both commercial trucks and passenger vehicles can cause serious accidents due to unsecured loads.

According to a 2016 AAA study, debris on the roads led to more than 200,000 crashes between 2011 and 2014. Included in those crashes were more than 500 deaths. The most common causes of these accidents were detached parts like wheels and tires that fall onto the roadway, hitched tow trailers that hit another vehicle, and unsecured cargo that falls onto the road. The important takeaway is that these often-tragic accidents are preventable.

Laws designed to prevent lost cargo accidents

The dangers posed by lost loads are recognized and regulated in the trucking industry; federal regulations prohibit commercial drivers from operating motor vehicle unless its cargo is secured. For example, federal motor carrier regulations require drivers to ensure that their cargo will remain where it was placed even when the vehicle undergoes different types of forces.

Even for non-commercial drivers, failing to prevent lost cargo can lead to fines and even jail. According to AAA, every state has passed laws making it illegal for items to fall off a vehicle on the road, with fines ranging from $10 to $5,000. In addition, 16 states include jail time as a potential punishment.

Who is responsible for a lost load accident?

Potentially liable parties are typically those who are tasked with a duty or those who are legally responsible for those with a duty. Federal laws require a driver to secure a load and failing to do so can expose the driver or the company that employs him or her to liability.

Trucking business often involves a complex web of relationships between companies and individuals. This mean there are more parties who may potentially be liable, such as a shipping company, the owner of a trailer, and even the manufacturer of a defective restraint device. Additionally, each of these parties will likely carry insurance and this can increase the number of parties involved in a claim.

When a non-commercial truck loses a load, the driver may be liable. The laws that criminalize a lost load can also create a presumption of liability if someone was injured after such a statute was violated.

Recovery for a lost load accident in NJ

Whether it is caused by a lost load or some other factor, a truck accident can be a harrowing experience. The Bergen County truck accident lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have been down this road before. We understand the industry and we know what you are going through. Call today to schedule a free consultation at our offices in either Bergen County, NJ or Rockland County, NY.

Additional lost load accident resources:

  1. Legal Information Institute, 49 CFR 392.9 – Inspection of cargo, cargo securement devices and systems, https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/392.9
  2. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Large Truck Crash Causation Study, https://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/ltccs/default.asp
  3. AAA Newsroom, American Drivers Aren’t Securing Their Loads on the Road, https://newsroom.aaa.com/2016/08/american-drivers-arent-securing-loads-road/