Unsecured Cargo Semi-Truck Accidents in Charlotte, NC
In 2016, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety published a study regarding the dangers of unsecured cargo loads in American motor vehicle accidents. Among their findings, AAA reported that more than 200,000 accidents that occurred between 2011 and 2014 involved loose cargo and road debris.
Loose cargo in commercial trucks presents a dangerous hazard to everyone who drives on North Carolina roads. Tractor-trailers carry thousands of pounds of cargo. When that cargo shifts, it can unbalance the entire truck, causing the driver to lose control of the rig. When unsecured cargo spills from the truck, it can force other vehicles to swerve and crash, and easily result in a pileup.
Unfortunately, unsecured goods in a truck can cause accidents involving serious or fatal injuries. If you suffered an injury caused by unsecured cargo, our skilled Charlotte truck accident attorneys can help you recover the compensation you need to move forward.
Contact the legal team at Stewart Law Offices for a free consultation to discuss your road debris truck accident case now.
Truck Crashes Caused by Improperly Loaded Cargo
When cargo is improperly secured or fully unsecured in large commercial trucks, bumps and jolts may cause items in a truck’s trailer to roll around, resulting in dangerous shifts in cargo weight that can lead to serious accidents. To prevent unsecured truck load accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) adopted a set of rules based on the North American Cargo Securement Standard Model Regulations in 2002.
The intent of these rules is to create industry-wide standards for cargo securement and reduce the number of truck accidents caused by cargo shifting within or falling from commercial trailers. The FMCSA rules for cargo securement include:
- A general rule requiring cargo to be “firmly immobilized or secured” in truck trailers by structures of appropriate strength
- Cargo placement and restraint rules specifically for articles of cargo that are prone to roll, which should be restrained by wedges or other devices that prevent them from rolling freely
- Securement system requirements that call for a minimum number of cargo restraints as well as adequate “working load limits” for each restraint
- Specific securement rules for trucks transporting specialized cargo such as lumber, building material, shipping containers, or other automobiles
When truck drivers or cargo loading teams neglect to observe the above rules laid out by the FMCSA, unsecured cargo accidents can and do happen. Sometimes, loose articles of cargo may shift violently enough to spin trucks off of their axes and cause devastating rollover accidents.
In other cases, unsecured cargo can burst out of trailers entirely and spill out onto the street, which may result in additional road debris accidents as items strike or rollover nearby vehicles.
Something Fell Off a Truck and Hit My Car – Now What?
So, what should you do if an unsecured cargo accident occurs and something hits your car on the freeway in or around Charlotte? This kind of accident can be shocking and traumatic, and it’s common to feel uncertain about the steps you should take next. It’s important to remember that the most critical factor in any accident is your physical well-being, so if you sustained any serious injuries, your first step should be to seek immediate medical attention.
After you make sure that you are not in any imminent danger, the truck accident attorneys of Stewart Law Offices recommend that you take the following steps to protect yourself, your rights, and your ability to recover compensation in any future claims:
- Pull your vehicle off to the side of the road to avoid oncoming traffic and any additional road debris accidents.
- Check yourself and any passengers in your car for injuries and seek emergency medical treatment if needed.
- Call your local police to notify them of the accident and ensure an official police report will be generated for the crash.
- Exchange contact and insurance information with the truck driver and collect statements and contact details from any available eyewitnesses as well.
- Take photos of the accident scene, any road marks or spilled cargo, damage to your vehicle, and any visible injuries you or other car occupants sustain.
- Go to your doctor for a physical check-up, whether or not you believe you were injured, and follow any treatment plans they prescribe.
- Maintain a record of any expenses you incur as a result of your accident, including medical bills, missed time at work, and repair costs for your vehicle.
- If you sustained injuries that leave you in significant pain, keep a daily journal to record your subjective feelings of physical and emotional discomfort.
- Report the accident to your insurance provider, but be careful of what you say, since any offhand statements may be used against you later.
- Avoid discussing your unsecured cargo accident or resulting injuries with others, and especially refrain from posting anything about them on social media.
- Contact an experienced Charlotte truck accident attorney for a free consultation.
Proving Liability in an Unsecured Truck Load Accident
One of the most important elements of any accident claim is a liability, or who was responsible for causing the wreck. The contributing factors that caused your Charlotte unsecured cargo truck accident may seem obvious to you, but in order for you to recover compensation in a subsequent personal injury claim, you will need to demonstrate that another party should be held liable for the incident.
The best way to demonstrate liability in an injury claim is by identifying and obtaining evidence that will support your case. The seasoned attorneys of Stewart Law Office have more than 30 years of experience recognizing and gathering the following types of compelling evidence for Charlotte truck accident claims:
- Statements from other drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses
- Testimony from expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction specialists
- Medical records that show accident-related injury details
- Pay stubs or bank records, to calculate lost wages from missed time at work
- Photographs and video footage from the scene of the accident
- Truck driver logbook, hours-of-service, and GPS records
- Truck driver and trucking company safety, inspection, and compliance history
- “Black box” data from truck’s internal monitoring devices
- Cargo manifests and other evidence of improper loading techniques
- Cargo-loading companies’ safety and compliance history
Average Settlement Amount for Truck Accidents
Unsecured cargo truck accidents are particularly catastrophic and tend to cause much more damage than accidents between passenger cars. As a result, the value of any subsequent settlement claims is often quite high. However, there is no “average” settlement amount for truck accident claims or any magic formula that can tell you exactly how much your claim is worth.
Settlements in truck accident claims are based on a variety of factors and vary significantly from case to case. While it’s impossible to estimate the precise value of your unsecured cargo accident claim, insurance adjusters and judges typically consider the following elements when they determine settlement amounts:
- Any costs you incur from past or present medical attention for your injuries
- Expenses related to the treatment of your symptoms, such as physical therapy costs
- The cost of any accessibility modifications to your home or at-home caregiving
- The amount needed to repair damage to your vehicle or other personal property
- Any income losses you incur if you are forced to miss work due to your injuries
- Potential losses of future income related to chronic or permanent disability
- The intangible costs of pain, suffering, and emotional trauma from your accident
- Subjective losses related to decreased quality or enjoyment of your life
In addition to the above losses, you could also be entitled to additional money in the form of a punitive award if your unsecured cargo truck accident was caused by an at-fault party who was egregiously reckless or acted with malice or willful intent. Punitive awards are only made in rare circumstances, and North Carolina courts cap the amount of punitive monies available to injured parties at $250,000.
How Can a Semi-Trailer Truck Accident Attorney in Charlotte, NC Help Me?
Thinking about all of the many factors that may be involved in your North Carolina truck accident claim may feel overwhelming, but there’s no need for you to handle everything on your own. The assistance of a Charlotte semi-truck accident lawyer can give you the resources and confidence you need to pursue the best outcome possible in your personal injury claim. The experienced lawyers of Stewart Law Offices can help your case by:
- Explaining your legal options and the laws that apply to your truck accident case
- Providing helpful advice based on years of practice and knowledge of relevant case law
- Investigating the possible contributing factors that may have caused your unsecured cargo truck accident
- Acquiring hard-to-find evidence to support your claim, such as expert witness testimony or trucking company records
- Handling all of the paperwork required to file your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit
- Communicating with other parties on your behalf to present your best possible case and help you avoid potentially self-incriminating statements
- Aggressively pursuing a full and fair settlement in insurance negotiations
- Representing you in court, if no reasonable settlement is offered
Injured in a Charlotte Truck Accident? Contact Stewart Law Offices Today
To start taking action in your Charlotte truck accident case, reach out to the attentive and compassionate team at Stewart Law Offices today. We offer free case reviews and never charge legal fees unless we recover compensation for your unsecured cargo accident claim. Call us today or contact us online to learn more.