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Who is liable for an accident if a truck is improperly loaded?

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2023 | Trucking Defense

According to the National Safety Council, commercial truck accidents have seen a 22% increase since 2013. When a truck accident occurs, it can lead to catastrophic damages and injuries due to the massive size and weight of these vehicles.

Frequently, accidents happen due to improper cargo loading, which can cause the truck to become unstable. But who holds responsibility when such a mishap occurs?

Improper cargo loading

Federal regulations require that commercial trucks must have their cargo secured properly on or within their truck. If the cargo load shifts during transit, it can result in a truck imbalance and potentially cause a serious accident. But if the cargo company loaded the truck improperly, does the trucking company also bear liability?

The answer hinges largely on the nature of the relationship between the trucking company and the cargo loaders. If the trucking company hired the cargo loading company, the courts could hold the trucking company liable due to their responsibility to hire competent, safe contractors.

However, if the shipper directly hired the cargo loaders without any relationship to the trucking company, the trucking company may not hold any liability. In this case, the fault could fall to the shipper or the cargo loading company.

The truck driver’s responsibilities

The truck driver also plays an important role in ensuring the safe transport of goods. Drivers must inspect the cargo and ensure its secure placement before embarking on their journey.

If the driver identifies an issue with the cargo but proceeds without correcting it, the courts could hold both the driver and the trucking company liable. This liability occurs as the driver represents the trucking company, and any negligence on the driver’s part may extend to the company.

When cargo loading issues cause a truck accident, determining liability can become complex. However, ensuring that commercial trucks are properly loaded and that their cargo is secure can help keep the roads safer for everyone.