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The Dangers of Cargo Spills

June 20, 2017

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

Although most people associate auto accidents with driver error, such as failing to yield, reckless driving, or violating a traffic law, many accidents are also the result of collisions with spilled cargo. These types of car crashes can be particularly dangerous, especially if a truck was transporting dangerous or hazardous materials. Fortunately, truck drivers and their employers can be held accountable if their negligence resulted in a spill and a subsequent accident, so if you were recently involved in a collision caused by spilled cargo, it is critical to speak with an experienced auto accident attorney who can help you seek compensation for your losses.

Federal Regulations

In an effort to decrease the risk posed to other drivers by transporting heavy and often dangerous cargo, the federal government requires drivers and truck companies to comply with specific loading procedures. For instance, all items being transported via truck must be tied down using ropes, tarps, or straps. In fact, the number of straps that a driver must use to secure cargo is also predetermined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which states that while items that are less than five feet long and do not weigh more than 1,100 pounds need only be restrained by a single tie-down, anything larger requires two tie-downs. Cargo items that are longer than ten feet must be secured by at least one tie-down every ten feet.

Furthermore, if a certain type of cargo is expected to roll during transit, the driver must secure it using wedges and chocks. Drivers who transport concrete pipes, lumber, freight containers, and heavy machinery must adhere to additional requirements.

Who is Liable?

Drivers and truck company employees who fail to comply with federal regulations can be held liable for resulting accidents. In fact, the truck company itself may bear some responsibility for an accident if it:

  • Failed to train drivers on loading procedures;
  • Did not require drivers to inspect their loads during transit; or
  • Failed to provide drivers with the materials required to safely transport cargo.

Truck companies who also failed to use reasonable care during the hiring process or who did not perform maintenance on their trucks can also be held liable if these actions resulted in an accident that led to a cargo spill. Fortunately, even when injured parties contribute to their own accidents, they will not be barred from collecting compensation under the state’s comparative fault statute.

Contact a Philadelphia Auto Accident Lawyer Today

Truck drivers and their employers are required to adhere to federally mandated loading procedures. When these individuals or entities fail to do so, they can be required to compensate parties who were injured as a result. This could include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering, all of which can play a crucial role in allowing injured parties to begin the long process of recovery. To speak with an experienced auto accident attorney about your own case, please call van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim at (215) 486-0123 or initiate a live chat with a dedicated member of our legal team.


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