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Falling Cargo Accidents

Few things are more frightening and potentially deadly than cargo that falls off a moving semi-truck or 18-wheeler when the car and truck are both moving at high speeds. Living in Seattle, Kirkland, Olympia, and Washington state, there are many 18-wheelers and semi-trucks on the highways and roads in Washington State.

These trucks are mostly safe and the majority of the time nothing falls off them, cargo or materials or equipment. However, there are times when materials do fall off them and they create serious accidents.

Falling Cargo Accident Washington State Laws

There are specific federal laws that govern how cargo is loaded. For instance, the truck driver and the trucking company must check, well before the truck leaves for the road, to make sure all cargo, equipment, and materials are properly tied down and secure. The law is clear that there is a minimum amount of tie downs, the freight must not shift or be allowed to roll around inside the truck, the cargo must be able to stay steady even if the truck backs up, picks up speed, or turns suddenly, and there are very exact rules for transporting large pieces of equipment.

Below are just a few of the laws that are put forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that apply to the transportation of cargo and materials on semi-trucks and 18-wheelers.

393.118 - Dressed Lumber and Similar Building Products
The rules in this section apply to the transportation of bundles of dressed lumber, packaged lumber, building products such as plywood, gypsum board or other materials of similar shape. Lumber or building products that are not bundled or packaged must be treated as loose items and transported in accordance with the general cargo securement rules. The term " bundle " refers to packages of lumber, building materials or similar products which are unitized for securement as a single article of cargo.

393.120 - Metal Coils
The rules in this section apply to the transportation of one or more metal coils which, individually or grouped, weigh 2,268 kg (5,000 lbs) or more. Shipments of metal coils that weigh less than 2,268 kg (5,000 lbs) may be secured in accordance with the general cargo securement rules.

393.122 - Paper Rolls
The rules for securing paper rolls apply to shipments of paper rolls which, individually or together, weigh 2,268 kg (5,000 lbs) or more. Shipments of paper rolls that weigh less than 2,268 kg (5,000 lbs), and paper rolls that are unitized on a pallet, may either be secured in accordance with the rules in this section or the general cargo securement rules.

393.124 - Concrete Pipe
The rules in this section apply to the transportation of concrete pipe on flatbed trailers and vehicles and lowboy trailers. Concrete pipe that is bundled tightly together into a single rigid article with no tendency to roll and concrete pipe loaded in a sided vehicle or container must be secured in accordance with the general rules.

393.126 - Intermodal Containers
The requirements for intermodal containers cover the transportation of these containers on container chassis and other types of vehicles. Intermodal containers are freight containers designed and constructed to permit them to be used interchangeably in two or more modes of transportation. Cargo contained within intermodal containers must be secured in accordance with the general cargo securement rules or, if applicable, the commodity-specific rules.

393.128 - Automobiles, Light Trucks, and Vans
This portion of the new standards applies to the transportation of automobiles, light trucks, and vans which individually weight 4,536 kg (10,000 lbs) or less. Vehicles which individually are heavier than 4,536 kg (10,000 lbs) must be secured in the same manner as heavy vehicles, equipment, and machinery (see the rules under /393.126).

393.130 - Heavy Vehicles, Equipment, and Machinery
These requirements apply to the transportation of heavy vehicles, equipment, and machinery which operate on wheels or tracks, such as front-end loaders, bulldozers, tractors and power shovels and which individually weigh 4,536 kg (10,000 lbs) or more. Vehicles, equipment, and machinery which is lighter than 4,536 kg (10,000 lbs) may be secured in accordance with these rules, the rules for automobiles, light trucks and vans, or the general freight requirements.

393.132 - Flattened or Crushed Vehicles
These requirements cover the transportation of vehicles like automobiles, light trucks, and vans that have been flattened or crushed. Transporting automobiles that are flattened or crushed in a crash or accident, as opposed to being intentionally flattened or crushed in preparation for transportation to recycling facilities, is not subject to these requirements. However, vehicles damaged in a crash or accident are subject to the general cargo securement requirements.

393.134 - Roll-on/Roll-Off or Hook-lift Containers
These rules apply to the transportation of roll-on/roll-off or hook-lift containers. A hook-lift container is defined in 49 CFR 393.5 as a specialized container, primarily used to contain and transport materials in the waste, recycling, construction/demolition and scrap industries, which is used in conjunction with specialized vehicles in which the container is loaded and unloaded onto a tilt frame body by an articulating hook-arm. Section 393.134 is not, however, applicable to the operation of hoist-type equipment (or hoist equipment) as described in American National Standards Institute (ANSI) publication ANSI 2245.1. Hoist-type equipment should be considered separate and distinct from roll-on/roll-off equipment and, therefore, not subject to 393.134. Containers transported on hoist-type equipment must be secured in accordance with the general securement rules.

393.136 - Large Boulders
The rules in this section apply to the transportation of any large piece of natural, irregularly shaped rock weighing more than 5,000 kg (11,000 lbs) or with a volume more than two cubic meters on an open vehicle, or in a vehicle whose sides are not designed and rated to contain such cargo. Pieces of rock weighing more than 100 kg (220 lbs), but less than 5,000 kg (11,000 lbs) must be secured, either in accordance with this section or according to the general cargo securement rules. These rules include: (1) rock contained within a vehicle which is designed to carry such cargo; or (2) secured individually by tie-downs, provided each piece can be stabilized and adequately secured. Rock material that has been formed or cut to a shape and which provides a stable base for securement must also be secured, either in accordance with the provisions of this section or in accordance with the general securement rules.

As you can see from this list, there are many specific laws that govern how objects are to be transported and secured.

In order for a commercial driver to be on the road in Washington State, operating a truck, they need to have what is called a CDL or a commercial driver’s license. This kind of license is not easy to obtain. A driver must pass a background check and pass several fitness tests as well. In addition, responsible companies should also have internal background and fitness checks with which they screen their applicants. However, as you can imagine, companies do not always do their due diligence in hiring a trucker for their company.

While the majority of truck accidents are the result of driver error, there can also be instances when the truck company is at fault. Common reasons for truck accidents when the company is at fault:

  • Tire blowouts
  • Brake problems
  • Vehicle maintenance issues
  • Failing to properly screen or vet drivers

Sometimes truck companies fail to properly maintain their vehicles and they put their drivers in trucks that are not safe, for a variety of reasons, ranging from brakes that are aging and faulty, tires that are bald and need replacing, and other mechanical issues that need addressed and fixed. If this is the case, the company shares responsibility for the accident they caused.

There are times, however, the insurance company for the truck company will attempt to conceal internal company documents that show how neglectful the company has been in properly and safely maintaining their truck, depending on how many they have in their fleet.

Common Falling Cargo Truck Accident Injuries

If you have been in an accident with a truck whose cargo has spilled out and hit you, chances are you facing serious injuries. The most common injuries associated with truck injuries are:

  • Whiplash
  • Concussion
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • ACL or MCL tears
  • Broken bones

If you have suffered any of these injuries, the likelihood is not good that these injuries will resolve on their own. In most instances, you will have to see a medical professional to help you recover. Aside from primary care doctors, the most common kinds of healthcare providers to treat people who have been in accidents with trucks are osteopaths, physiatrists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists.

Any of these healthcare providers can render quality care to you and they likely know the appropriate specialist who can treat you if you have been injured by a truck.

How The Jackman Law Firm can Help

If you have been injured by a semi-truck, then you are likely in one of the more difficult times of your life. You are likely facing phone calls from insurance companies, medical appointments, you may be losing money from work since you are unable to work, and many phone calls from insurance companies. If this is the case, why go through this process alone? The Jackman Law Firm can help you recover:

  • Money for lost wages
  • Money for pain and suffering
  • Money for medical bills
  • Money for lost wages

The Jackman Law Firm can assist you with all of these things. In addition, we can stand between you and the insurance company for the truck. While it is not common, there are also instances when the truck company’s insurance company may allege that you were either partly or completely at fault for the accident. If this unfortunate and untrue allegation is brought against you, then you need an attorney who can help you.

The Jackman Law Firm can assist you by sending subpoenas for any video footage that may have captured the accident, interviewing witnesses and bystanders, and speaking to the police, assuming an investigation was done. If it is clear that the vehicle was not properly maintained, then the Jackman Law Firm has the resources and experience to investigate the company internally and find out if the company was failing to properly maintain their vehicle, such as not checking and fixing their brakes, making sure the tires are properly maintained and inflated, and making sure the vehicle is safe to be on the road.

If you have questions about your truck accident, feel free to call for a free consultation to discuss your case.

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