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Accidents and Big Rigs: How Improper Loads Contribute to Truck Accidents

truck accidents

There is no other mode of transportation more efficient as the trucking industry to deliver goods across Alabama and the rest of the nation. Whether transporting food to a grocery chain, washing machines to big box stores, cars to new car lots, about 70 percent of goods are delivered to their destination by a big rig.

Trucking is also important to Alabama’s economy with more than 9,000 trucking companies providing approximately one out of every 15 jobs in the state.

Alabama Truck Accidents

Nationally, trucks make up 6 percent of registered vehicles on the road but 11 percent of national road deaths. Nationwide, about 5,000 people die in collisions with a truck in the U.S. annually.

In Alabama, in 2014, there were 76 deaths reported among passengers riding in cars who collided with large trucks, according to the federal government.

Large trucks such as a tractor-trailer can weight up to 80,000 pounds. Whether a big-rig, 6-axle tractor-semitrailer, or triple trailer, it can be difficult to maneuver, and the vehicle needs extra time to stop.

Compare this to a 5,000 pound passenger vehicle and it’s easy to see why the car passengers often suffer the most devastating injuries. 

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a truck accident, you can contact an Alabama truck accident lawyer to help you file for damages.

Avoiding a Large Truck Accident in Alabama

Carriers must follow strict rules established by the federal government, specifically the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Unfortunately, some do not follow the rules. Prioritizing profits over safety may compel some trucking companies to cut corners, ordering drivers to stay on the road longer than they should and overloading trucks to carry more goods to a destination.

For example, while a driver is only allowed to be on duty for up to 14 hours at a time (according to federal Hours-of-Service rules), some might try to falsify the records and stay out on the road longer.

Revisiting the reasons for truck accidents, we find:

  • Tired drivers, both car and truck
  • Passenger cars changing lanes without signaling
  • Passenger cars driving too close to trucks not allowing enough room for the big-rig to maneuver
  • Poor truck maintenance
  • Faulty/defective vehicles or vehicle parts
  • Truck rollovers from speeding or unevenly loaded cargo

Improper Truck Loads

No matter the size of the truck, it is important to safely load and unload the vehicle. Not only is it important that the goods are delivered without damage, but it is essential the safety of the driver of the vehicle and others who they share the roads with. 

Loading a vehicle is usually done by hand, even if the goods are delivered by conveyors. Often a truck is backed up to a loading dock. Workers must make sure the floor is clean and dry so the parcels don’t slip.

Workers must take into account the weight of each unit to make sure the truck is not loaded beyond capacity. Sometimes, pin wheeling is used loading every other pallet in the different 90-degree direction.

To make sure the load is secured, braces and straps can be employed with separators, cleats and webbing. Also shrink wrap can be used to help stabilize a load.

There are additional complications when cargo is loaded and unloaded before it reaches its destination.  There might be additional goods loaded on top of the current goods to take up more space. This too is something the driver may not have any control over.

In the case of a log truck, where the cargo is open, shifting can take place, no matter how well the cargo is loaded.

In researching your Alabama truck accident, J. Allen Brown will determine the factors that led to your injuries or death, which may include a thorough investigation of how the truck was loaded.

Who did the loading and was there a third party involved? If so, that entity may be liable (due to improper loading procedures) for the shift in cargo that made the truck unstable and led to the accident.

If you have been involved in an accident with a large truck, call 9-1-1 and do not talk to the other side.  Do not apologize or offer any explanation as to the cause of the accident. Anything you say can be used against you later by the other side. So, be polite and courteous, but leave the determination of fault up to the experts.  

Call J. Allen Brown in his Mobile, Alabama office at 251-220-3199 to assist you during this difficult time.

J. Allan Brown, LLC
Law Office of J. Allan Brown, LLC, is located in Mobile, AL and serves clients in and around Mobile, Bucks, Satsuma, Eight Mile, Semmes, Spanish Fort, Citronelle, Theodore, Saraland, Montrose, Irvington, Saint Elmo, Wilmer, Point Clear, Grand Bay, Chunchula, Fairhope, Creola, Bayou La Batre, Axis, Coden, Bay Minette, Silverhill, Baldwin County and Mobile County.
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