Loose Cargo Can Mean Legal Liability For Trucking Companies
For those involved in trucking management, loose cargo can be a big deal. When there is spilled cargo on a roadway, there are boundless financial implications for trucking companies as well as the possibility of costly legal liabilities.
Loose cargo on the roadways is usually a concern for flatbed trucks. However, van trailers can experiences this issue also. Because of the loose cargo risk, a trucking company must carry liability insurance to the tune of at least $1 million. Lawyers are well aware of this legal requirement, so anytime there is a trucking accident lawsuits against the trucking company are common.
The issues of loose cargo has resulted in a new specialization in the legal field. If you do a Google search using the words “loose cargo,” you are likely to see a long list of attorneys ready and willing to represent those who have been involved in accidents with an errant freight. One lawyer in Texas has gone so far as to bill himself as the accident attorney for flatbed trailer trucks. Can you imagine the title on his business card?
After being involved in the industry for so long, I have my share of loose cargo stories. One such experience involved a driver who was transporting a load for me on a van trailer. The load consisted of steel parts that were supposed to be placed securely on pallets. The parts were heavy but were not high in volume. Unfortunately, the driver did not secure the load correctly. He took a turn off an off-ramp too quickly and the load shifted sides causing the truck to tip over. This created quick a headache for my company and quite the financial ordeal.
If you’ve done any cross-country driving or extensive interstate driving, you’ve no doubt noticed officials from the Department of Transportation inspecting big rigs on the roadside. Inspections of this nature are usually focused on equipment and freight. But oftentimes, DOT officials will issue fines for cargo that is not secured properly or other lapses in security related to hauling cargo.
Another incident I can recall involved a driver who was transporting steel coils. The driver was exiting on an off-ramp that led to another highway. Again this driver took the turn too quickly and the flatbed trailer rolled to one side and hit a concrete wall. Concrete debris flew everywhere across all lanes of traffic causing damage to more than forty cars.
Thankfully in this scenario and the previous one mentioned there were no injuries, but this type of incident is a nightmare for a trucking management company. Securing cargo properly is a big deal in the trucking industry. When done improperly, safety is compromised and legal liability is likely.