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Causative Factors & Consequences in Truck Accidents Associated With Cargo and Freight

The Chicago Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. recognize the various manners in which an injury or fatality involving a tractor-trailer can occur. For example, the freight or cargo being transported by a big-rigis a factor connected to many truck crashes. While in some cases, the critical event that caused the accident is directly linked to cargo, in other cases, the load aboard a truck contributes to the degree or magnitude of damage caused as a result of a collision.

Given that there are a multitude of ways in which the freight or cargo aboard a semi can play a role in truck crashes, and the fact that each accident generally involves its own unique set of circumstances, it would be difficult, if not impossible to set forth each and every possible scenario involving a cargo or freight related trucking collisions. Our team of injury lawyers provide the following regarding some of the most common cargo and freight issues associated with truck accidents. For discussion purposes, a distinction is made between Causative Factors and Potential Consequences.

Causative Factors

Weight / Tonnage. In general, as the weight of a vehicle and its cargo increase, so do the dangers associated with transport. The combined weight of a vehicle and its cargo is an important factor in determining whether a truck’s classification as a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), as well as whether a commercial driver’s license (DCL) is required.

Loading / Securing. The manner in which cargo or freight is initially loaded and secured is critically important. The structure of the vehicle, in conjunction with any securing/ fastening devices used must comply with federal regulatory standards. In addition, 49 CFR 392.9 provides that the cargo or any other object must not:

“obscure the driver's view ahead or to the right or left sides (except for drivers of self-steer dollies), interfere with the free movement of his/her arms or legs, prevent his/her free and ready access to accessories required for emergencies, or prevent the free and ready exit of any person from the commercial motor vehicle's cab or driver's compartment.”

Cargo Inspection / Reexamination. Following the commencement of transport, the cargo and freight aboard a commercial truck must be rechecked, in accordance with federal regulations, to ensure continued safety throughout transport. Except where a truck driver has been ordered to not inspect cargo, or where inspection is impracticable, the drivers of trucks and truck tractors, pursuant to 49 CFR 392.9(3)(b), sections (1) and (2), must:

  1. Inspect the cargo and the devices used to secure the cargo within the first 50 miles after beginning a trip and cause any adjustments to be made to the cargo or load securement devices as necessary, including adding more securement devices, to ensure that cargo cannot shift on or within, or fall from the commercial motor vehicle; and
  2. Reexamine the commercial motor vehicle's cargo and its load securement devices during the course of transportation and make any necessary adjustment to the cargo or load securement devices, including adding more securement devices, to ensure that cargo cannot shift on or within, or fall from, the commercial motor vehicle. Reexamination and any necessary adjustments must be made whenever—
    1. The driver makes a change of his/her duty status; or
    2. The commercial motor vehicle has been driven for 3 hours; or
    3. The commercial motor vehicle has been driven for 150 miles, whichever occurs first.

Hazardous Materials. The federal government sets forth highly stringent regulations regarding the transport of hazardous materials, which must be adhered to in conjunction with State and local laws, ordinances, and regulations. In addition to marking and placarding requirements, there are a variety of special rules concerning matters such as the inspection, fueling, and parking of a commercial vehicle transporting hazardous cargo. Truck drivers must also adhere to all applicable routing designations when transporting such materials.

Potential Consequences

When one or more, of the above-listed or another similar causative factor, is involved in a trucking accident, a wide range of consequences can result. In many cases one consequence leads to another; in other cases, the consequences are co-existing, simultaneous, or occur separately. Some examples include:

  • Falling Debris
  • Shifting Cargo
  • Multiple vehicle Pile-ups
  • Truck Roll-Over
  • Jackknifing
  • Human Exposure to chemicals / toxic materials
  • Environmental Contamination
  • Fires and/or Explosions

There is perhaps an infinite number of potential combinations of causative factors and consequences that could occur in a truck accident. As such, following an accidentinvolving a tractor trailer, it is important to select .attorney experienced in handling trucking collision cases

The Chicago Attorneysof Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. know the importance of thoroughly investigating the crash, and with decades of experience, we know the appropriate manners to do so. Our team of lawyers possess the knowledge and skill necessary to interpret and apply all laws relevant to a trucking collision, whether federal, state, or local. Contact us to discuss you legal rights, at 773-516-4100, or online at our website.

Client Reviews
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