As has been discussed on this blog in the past, tractor-trailers can pose a significant threat to motorists when driven improperly. The negligence of a driver while behind the wheel is not the only way that these massive vehicles can put others at risk of harm. When cargo on a tractor-trailer is inadequately secured, for example, it may come loose, fall from the truck and cause other motorists to strike it or get in an accident while trying to avoid the collision.
Since insecure cargo can be such a big problem, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has created rules and regulations in an attempt to ensure safety. There are certain types of approved securement devices, including chains, steel strapping, clamps and latches, blocking, winches, bracing and friction mats, amongst others. Tiedowns, which secure cargo on a vehicle, must be used properly and must not have signs of distress or weakness.
To be adequately secured, cargo must by secured in one of three ways. First, cargo is secure if it is contained by securing devices of proper strength. This means that the cargo cannot shift or tip and that it is restrained against horizontal movement. Second, cargo is secure if it is immobilized by proper restraining devices. This mostly applies to cargo on a flat-bed truck. Third, on a flat-bed truck, cargo is adequately tied down if it is secured on the vehicle with the utilization of other devices such as blocking, friction mats or other cargo.
There are many ways that truckers and the companies for which they work can be negligent. Therefore, those who wind up in a truck accident and suffer injuries as a result may have a broader basis for which to base a personal injury lawsuit in hopes of recovering their losses.
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Driver's Handbook on Cargo Securement - Chapter 2: General Cargo Securement Requirements," accessed on Nov. 15, 2015