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Who Is Liable When a Truck's Cargo Spills?

Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC

Have you ever been driving behind a truck hauling something big, like logs or cars, and wondered, “what would happen if one of those got loose?” The imagination can turn that situation into an action movie, but the reality is that, sometimes, a truck’s cargo does get loose. It spills onto the road, and people get hurt. When that happens, who is responsible?

The Chain of Possession

When determining the fault in a cargo spill, investigators have to follow the chain of possession. Truck cargo goes through many hands before reaching its final destination. It’s important for truckers and companies to keep close records of who handled the cargo when. The last person to be in contact with the cargo is likely the one who will be held responsible when it gets loose.

The Driver

Drivers really shouldn’t be handling the cargo at all. It’s up to the loading companies to get the items on and off the truck. If the driver is handling the trailer door or the cargo, and it ends up spilling, they can be held responsible for the ensuing damages.

The Loading Company

A good, professional driver knows that their job is to get the merchandise from Point A to Point B. Moreover, they know that if an accident occurs from the cargo, they can be held responsible if they were handling it. The likely culprit for a cargo spill is the loading company.

Bad Loading

It’s possible that the company just did a sloppy job loading the truck. Cargo wasn’t strapped down properly; the door wasn’t secured; bigger items were placed on top of smaller items, causing stacks to topple; etc. In a situation like this, the company and its workers are responsible for any damage to commuters or the commercial truck itself.

Overloading

Stuffing a trailer beyond its intended capacity is unsafe, and it is an intolerable practice. No company – either by greed, impatience, or incompetence – should be doing this. If a trailer is too full, it puts many drivers at risk. Companies guilty of this habit need to be held accountable. They should suffer the consequences of their actions, and a message needs to be sent to all companies to keep safety first.

Talk to a Lawyer

A good lawyer with experience in traffic accidents has the tools to properly investigate cargo spill injuries. They know how to follow the paperwork to see who handled the product, whether they should have or not. Lawyers know how much a trailer should be able to carry and the proper way to stack and store cargo. They can track down inconsistencies and hold bad actors responsible for their actions.

If you have been injured from a commercial truck losing its cargo, we offer free consultations. Call us risk-free at (918) 347-6456 or contact us online.

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