Wilmington Unsafe Load Accident Lawyers
Commercial truck drivers are under pressure to meet strict deadlines. Often, these deadlines are imposed by their employers, who know full well that rules, regulations, and safety practices must be violated to meet these time restraints.
Regrettably, some drivers will pack their trucks hastily and in an unsafe manner, causing uneven loads and overloaded trailers that affect the handling of the vehicle. In some cases, loads have spilled onto roadways, causing dangerous obstructions. In others, the cargo weight has shifted and swung the tractor-trailer into the path of other vehicles. At Rhine Law Firm, P.C., our Wilmington truck accident lawyers believe that both the driver and the company are responsible for the often-tragic ramifications of this carelessness.
Commercial trucks are regulated by a central agency, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which enacted new rules relating to cargo securement in 2002 and created uniformity in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. These new rules were drafted in accordance with the North American Cargo Securement Model Regulations written by both U.S. and Canadian industry experts, which aim to prevent accidents by ensuring that cargo will not shift or fall from commercial vehicles. These requirements are applied to all cargo except special commodities such as liquids and gases.
The FMCSA measures the security of a cargo by how much it moves when the vehicle rapidly accelerates and suddenly stops (brakes). The key devices used to limit on-board cargo movement are:
- Anchor point: A fixed attachment used to secure cargo.
- Ties downs: Typically, high-strength straps with hooks that are attached to anchor points.
- Dunnage bag: Inflatables used to fill empty space between cargo and the walls of the trailer.
- Edge protector: Protectors on the edges of cargo to better distribute the force of accelerating or stopping.
- Friction mat: Mats positioned between cargo to decrease movement.
- Shoring bar: Bars put in place between the trailer walls to prevent cargo shifts.
- Void filler: A strong material that occupies space and prevent shifts within the trailer.
All cargo is to be secured on or in the vehicle by structures fully capable of immobilizing, supporting, and protecting it. This may be done through a combination of dunnage, dunnage bags, tie downs, shoring bars, etc. To prevent cargo from rolling, it needs to be restrained in a manner that prevents unintentional loosening, detachment, or unfastening. Cargo placed adjacently, secured by tie downs, should remain in direct contact and be prevented from potential shifts while the trailer is traveling.
Drivers and the carriers they work for must adhere to the following requirements:
- The weight of the cargo is safely distributed and secured and all equipment is operational.
- The cargo does not obscure the driver’s vision or limit his movements.
- The driver must stop to inspect the securement of the cargo within the first 50 miles of travel.
- The cargo must be reexamined at each of the following times:
- Whenever the driver goes on or off duty.
- Every three hours of driving time or every 150 miles traveled.
Each driver is required to complete a written (or electronically documented) report following his shift for each vehicle he operates. The report requires the driver to inspect critical equipment including emergency brakes, lights, reflectors, tires, mirrors, and emergency equipment.
Any missing, inoperable, or defective equipment must be listed. The problem must be repaired before the vehicle may be returned to service. This documentation must be retained for a period of 90 days.
Rhine Law Firm, P.C., offers clients tractor-trailer attorneys with decades of proven skills. Attorney Joel Rhine is recognized as one of the area's preeminent truck accident trial lawyers, with more than 27 years of in-depth knowledge and experience in cases involving violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act. Mr. Rhine and his staff will review the circumstances of your accident and explain your options for pursuing a claim against the trucking company and insurance carriers of any additional parties determined to be liable for damages.
Call us toll-free at (866) 772-9960 or locally at (910) 772-9960 to schedule a free initial consultation. You are also welcome to submit an email requesting a return phone call to schedule a case evaluation with Mr. Rhine. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Evening and weekend appointments also available. There are no attorneys' fees or case preparation costs. You pay us only if you are awarded money in a settlement or jury award.
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