FMCSA violations of unsecured cargo can cause fatal 18 wheeler wrecks. The trucking industry is about moving cargo from one place to another. The whole purpose of large commercial trucks such as tractor trailers, big rigs, 18 wheelers, flatbeds, tankers, and other box trucks is to haul this cargo. Sometimes the cargo is contained inside of the box of the tractor trailer. Other times the cargo is on a flatbed and outside the shell of the box. But in both instances, the cargo must be secured to ensure that it does not shift, fall off the truck, or cause a potentially dangerous hazard.
But because the trucking industry is interstate, meaning across many states, each individual state’s law may require or impose different restrictions or requirements. This is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a national agency, has created regulations which apply to all truck drivers, trucking companies, and commercial vehicles. These regulations set minimum standards for conduct and compliance. They are generally aimed to prevent serious trucking crashes, particularly fatal big rig wrecks.
One of the most important sections governs the securing of cargo. This is axiomatic for the trucking industry, as it is premised on transporting cargo across the country; that is the entire purpose of trucking. But when cargo is unsecured or improperly secured, it can launch off the back of a truck or fall off a commercial vehicle and cause very serious and fatal injuries.
The overarching principle is that cargo must be immobilized and secured on a commercial vehicle. If cargo falls off and/or is launched off of a commercial vehicle, it is very likely that the trucking company and truck driver did not comply with the FMCSA. It is also likely a violation of state law, including New Mexico law. To this extent, under the common law it is likely that a defendant-truck driver or trucking company who has cargo fall off of a truck and injury another person will be found negligent under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. This doctrine means “the thing speaks for itself,” and applies when the defendant has exclusive control of the instrumentality (the cargo) and the incident would not occur in the absence of negligence. When cargo falls off a truck on a highway, that is very likely.
The FMCSA regulations also provide specific requirements for certain cargo. For instance, cargo that is likely to roll must be restrained by objects such as wedges, cradles, or other objects to prevent it from rolling. When cargo that could roll does roll off of a truck and case a serious New Mexico trucking accident, the truck driver and trucking company may be liable.
There is also a certain number of tie downs required depending on the weight of the cargo and/or the length of the cargo. This also depends whether the cargo is immobilized or braced, or how other articles holding it into position are secured. For instance, cargo 5ft or less and 1,110 lbs or less in weight requires one tie down, while longer or heavier will require two tie downs. Thereafter, objects longer than 10 ft will require an additional tie down every 10 feet. This may change depending on the other secured cargo.
When cargo is not properly secured, it could fall off of the truck and result in serious personal injuries. A thorough investigation is sometimes need to assess the weight of the object and the number of restraints. The character of the object, i..e if it could “likely” roll, must also be assessed. These are not normal car accident claims, but issues specific to trucking accidents that require a law firm who is familiar with trucking cases to prove.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, call the experienced New Mexico trucking accident attorneys at the NM Truck Accident Attorneys today by dialing (505) 883-5000 You can also contact us on our website through the easy to use and convenient Contact box located by clicking here.