Improperly Loaded Semi Truck Accidents

According to the FMCSA, 3,864 fatal crashes and 104,000 injury crashes involving large trucks occurred in 2016. While large trucks can cause accidents in many ways; one reason is a driver’s loss of control due to an overweight or improperly loaded truck.

Improper Loading of Semi-Trucks Leads to Serious Accidents

When the cargo on a semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle has not been loaded or secured properly, it can shift making it hard for a driver to operate it safely, sometimes even leading to the driver’s loss of control as a trailer sways or fishtails on the road.

Accidents can be caused by:

  • Excess weight
  • Unbalanced or top-heavy load
  • Unsecured or loose cargo
  • Unequal weight distribution

Cargo can break loose or shift making the truck unstable and increasing the likelihood of an accident.

Overweight Loads Impact Semi Truck’s Driving Performance

truck accidentThe performance of a semi-truck and other commercial vehicles can be impacted when it is overweight or overloaded making it:

  • Travel down an incline faster than anticipated
  • Harder to stop or harder to make sudden turns
  • Be off-balance

A semi-truck’s load must be properly distributed so that no single axle is overloaded, causing the truck to be off balance. Unequal weight distribution is one of the leading causes of jackknife and rollover accidents.

Questions? Our knowledgeable staff is available at (877) 284-6600.

Holding Trucking Companies Responsible in Semi-Truck Accidents

Trucking companies who own the truck and employ the driver may be held responsible; however, there are several parties that may share responsibility in a trucking accident, including:

  • Truck’s driver
  • Owner of the truck or trailer
  • Person or company that leased the truck or trailer from the owner
  • Manufacturer of the vehicle if tires or other parts contributed to the accident
  • Shipper or loader of the truck’s cargo in cases involving improper loading

When building your case, the lawyers at Nash & Franciskato will investigate many different factors to determine responsibility such as who loaded the cargo, who secured it and how it was secured plus review maintenance and inspection records and weight loads. We will work to obtain the maximum compensation for you from all liable parties.

Receive a Free Evaluation From Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys

Accidents involving a semi tractor-trailer or other large commercial vehicle can be catastrophic. To protect your interests, it is critical to consult with an experienced truck accident lawyer. Nash & Franciskato, a Kansas City based personal injury law firm, represents those injured in commercial trucking accidents caused by overloaded and improperly loaded semi-trucks. Contact us for a free, no-obligation review of your case.

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Data source: FMCSA Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts


Who regulates the truck driving industry?

Federal laws and regulations govern our nation’s trucking industry. These regulations, the bulk of which can be found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, establish standards that trucking companies, owners and drivers must meet.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulate the truck driving industry. In addition, every state also has its own department of transportation.

How do you know the weight limits of a truck?

You will typically see a rating such as “G.W. 40,000” or “”G.W. 80,000.” This number refers to the maximum combined amount of freight load and vehicle weight the truck must adhere to.

No truck may carry more weight than is permitted by the rating and should not exceed a GVWR of 80,000 pounds.

Truck drivers are expected to make regular stops at weigh stations to ensure loads do not exceed the truck’s GVWR or FMCSA regulations.

What is meant by improper load?

Improper loading refers to situations such as:

  • Weight unevenly distributed in the trailer or with a high center of gravity
  • Overloaded trailers
  • Cargo that is improperly braced or blocked
  • Cargo secured with too few tie-downs or with tie-downs that are not rated for the weight of the cargo
  • Lack of edge protection when the cargo could cut tie-downs
  • Cargo that does not have header boards to prevent spilling during stops or accidents
What are the securement laws of cargo on tractor-trailers?

In general, the FMCSA securement laws of cargo on tractor-trailers require:

  • All devices used to secure cargo trucks be functional enough to meet performance criteria set by the agency. In other words, there should be no weakened or damaged parts that could affect their performance. In addition, cargo securement systems must withstand certain deceleration and acceleration movements in forward, rearward and lateral directions.
  • Drivers and loaders to make sure that truck loads are tied down using a number of devices including webbing, steel straps and other devices. Tiedowns must be secure enough so that they do not open, release or loosen during transport, preventing the cargo from becoming loose and flying off.
  • When cargo is loaded on a truck it must be firmly secured by structures equipped to hold it, including dunnage (material used for cargo protection) or dunnage bags (inflatable bags used to fill space and prevent cargo shift) tiedowns and shoring bars.

Find more details in the FMCSA Driver’s Handbook on Cargo Securement and Cargo Securement Rules.

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