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When a truck loses its load, who is responsible?

You’re driving down the highway, and traffic seems fine. There’s no sign of trouble — until the semi in front of you suddenly loses its load. The next thing you know, you’re trying to dodge the cargo that’s in the road, the truck and other vehicles. You end up in a wreck, and you’re seriously hurt.

Every accident caused by a lost load, whether it’s a whole shipment of consumer goods that ends up scattered across the highway or a tow trailer that comes unhitched, is a preventable accident. Most often, a lost load represents a combination of failures. The parties responsible may include:

  • The driver: Drivers may be responsible for checking a load for safety before transport or securing a hitch. If they failed, they can be held liable for the injuries and losses that result. They can also be liable if their driving somehow caused the load to spill.
  • The trucking company: Employers generally have a vicarious liability for the actions (or inactions) of their employees. If a driver failed to secure the load, the trucking company can be held liable.
  • The loading company: Sometimes shippers will load and secure the freight and seal the trailer without the driver’s input. Those are called “Shipper Load and Count” shipments. In those cases, the lost load and any accidents may be the shipper’s responsibility.
  • An equipment manufacturer: A poorly designed hitch or defective loading straps can cause a load to spill even when there are no other mistakes. If a piece of equipment failed, the manufacturer could be liable for your losses.

Overloading, imbalanced loads, cargo that isn’t properly secured, hitches that aren’t properly latched and doors that are left open can all contribute to an accident with a lost load. If you suffer injuries as a result, find out how an experienced personal injury attorney can help you recover fair compensation.

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