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Seattle Cargo Spill Accident Lawyers


The Dangers of Lost Cargo

Almost every driver has clenched up while driving near a semi-truck hauling other cars because we understand the catastrophic accidents that can occur if such cargo comes loose. But even smaller objects, like packages in a Fed-Ex truck, can cause serious damage if they fall out of a trailer and collide with nearby vehicles. You could easily lose control of your car and swerve off of the road, strike other vehicles and cause a multi-car accident, or become injured if the cargo breaks your windshield.

If you or someone you love was injured in a cargo spill accident, then you may be eligible to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. But there are multiple parties who may be responsible for your injuries, and you may need to launch a thorough accident investigation to determine who caused the spill.

To ensure your case is handled properly, you should not hesitate to contact the Seattle cargo spill accident attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. Our team can review your case in a free evaluation and advocate on your behalf in an insurance claim. Call our office at (425) 228-3860 or toll-free at (888) 228-3860 today.

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What Causes Cargo Spills?

Whether a semi-truck is hauling an enclosed or open-air trailer, all cargo should be secured in place to prevent it from spilling into the road. This can require multiple groups working together to make sure a vehicle’s cargo is locked in place, including drivers, loading crews, maintenance crews, and shipping companies. If any one of these groups misses an important step in the loading process, it could cause cargo to spill out on a crowded Seattle street and injure multiple people.

Cargo spills can come as the result of:

  • Speeding at sharp turns, which can cause the truck to jackknife or roll over and spill cargo onto the road
  • Overloading a truck and making it more likely to overturn
  • Failing to secure the trailer’s doors
  • Weak or damaged chains, ropes, and webbings that allow cargo to move freely in a trailer
  • Rusty or cracked anchor points
  • Poorly secured tie-downs
  • Leaking or loose valves on cargo tanks

Different types of cargo require different securing methods. Drivers and trucking companies should always use the right equipment and methods to keep cargo still during transport. They should also regularly inspect their equipment to ensure it is safe to use – otherwise, they put innocent bystanders on the road at risk of suffering severe trauma in a trucking accident.

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Legal Requirements for Truck Owners

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict rules for how cargo should be secured on commercial vehicles. All truck drivers in Washington should thoroughly review these rules and understand how to keep their trailers secure while in motion. These rules explain the specific equipment that should be used for different cargo, but trucking companies sometimes violate these rules to save money on equipment; or a lack of experience and supervision on the driver’s part leads him to do the same.

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) has additional cargo securement guidelines for truck drivers, including rules for transporting other vehicles on front or rear-hanging trailers, loose material such as sand or gravel, and hazardous materials transported by tanker trucks. Failure to abide by the rules can, and often does, lead to catastrophic cargo spills.

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Who Is Responsible for Securing a Truck’s Cargo?

Cargo spills are always caused by negligence, though determining whose negligence will require an in-depth trucking investigation. However, in our experience, the most commonly at-fault parties include:

Truck Drivers: Drivers are responsible for always maintaining total control over their vehicles. Often, spills come about due to reckless driving maneuvers. If a driver operates a truck while fatigued, distracted, or intoxicated, his negligent behavior could lead to a serious accident where cargo spills out of a trailer.

Trucking Companies: Trucking companies are often in charge of an entire route, which means they bear responsibility for hiring and training drivers, inspecting vehicles, scheduling repairs, and coordinating with shipping companies and loading crews. Sadly, these companies are often driven by profit and cut corners to save on costs, whether that involves passing on new and better equipment, repairs, or experienced drivers. If a company’s actions allowed a spill to occur, you may be able to hold them accountable in a claim.

Loading Crews: Most trucks are loaded by workers at shipping centers, production facilities, and refineries. While they work in accordance with the trucking company, they are ultimately the ones responsible for making sure a trailer is secure and all cargo is properly tied down. If they used the wrong equipment or didn’t secure the cargo, they too can be found liable for a spill.

Maintenance Crews: Just as trucking companies should regularly inspect their vehicles and schedule repairs on damaged components, the mechanics they employ should take this responsibility seriously. If a maintenance crew discovered a defect and didn’t replace the damaged part, or did a poor job installing new anchor points or fixing a door, then they can be found liable if their carelessness caused a cargo spill.

Manufacturers: In some cases, a spill can occur due to a defective auto part, such as a faulty locking mechanism on a trailer or a tie-down strap that has weak webbing. If there is the chance that a truck’s part could cause an accident, that product should be immediately recalled and replaced. However, some manufacturers are not made aware of these issues until after a spill has occurred. Even so, victims can still pursue a product liability claim against them.

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Holding Negligent Trucking Companies Accountable

An event as deadly as a cargo spill will require an in-depth investigation by multiple government agencies, as well as the trucking company itself. Victims can get lost in the shuffle and become confused about how to move forward after suffering catastrophic injuries. You may be dealing with costly medical bills, have to adjust to a new disability, or even need to change careers due to your trauma, but you should not have to pay if someone else caused your accident.

At Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., our Seattle truck accident attorneys believe in advocating for accident victims, which is why our firm is dedicated to pursuing personal injury claims on behalf of individuals injured throughout Seattle. If you or someone you love was injured in a cargo spill, then we can utilize all of our knowledge, skill, and experience to thoroughly investigate your accident. Once we have determined who caused your injuries, we can advocate for full compensation on your behalf.

Do not wait. Our attorneys are ready to take on your case. Call Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., at (425) 228-3860 or toll-free at (888) 228-3860.

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