Across the United States, millions of semis, commercial trucks, tractor-trailers, and cargo vehicles are responsible for transporting billions of tons of freight. Although these vehicles are tremendously useful for the economy, when trucking companies or their drivers are negligent, it can pose a risk to others sharing the road. Properly loading and securing cargo is one critical safety issue that typically arises with trucks and cargo vans. A cargo shift could cause the vehicle to become imbalanced, resulting in disastrous consequences. When a portion of the load is lost from the truck and strikes another vehicle, it can create a dangerous barrier on the roadway and cause a serious accident.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets and enforces cargo safety regulations to reduce the rate of accidents and regulate motor carrier safety. At Cesar Ornelas Injury Law, we know the risks of unsafe cargo securement. Our experienced accident lawyers are prepared to handle your case and recover the compensation you deserve. If you were injured by a cargo van that was improperly loaded, don’t wait to get the help you need. Let our lawyers do the heavy lifting while you focus on healing.
Load Boards for Cargo Van Drivers in San Antonio
Next to trucks, drivers, licenses, insurance, and a brick-and-mortar dispatch location, loads are one of a carrier’s most essential needs. Carriers often depend on resources like networking and connections or paid tools to find loads, but with an online platform like a load board, carriers can easily search for loads that fit their requirements. Through load boards, carriers can connect with shippers and brokers who post their available loads and book with them instantly.
Sites with free load boards often offer the most basic features and may only charge for upgrades. By contrast, paid load boards provide additional features to users, like truck routing, mileage calculation, and data and analytics.
The following are load board marketplaces available to Texas transportation professionals:
123Loadboard – Provides an affordable way for owner-operator and broker organizations to find loads, equipment types, engage in negotiations, and create load-hauling contracts with easy-to-use tracking tools. The platform is a trusted source for compliance issues, edit scores, freight matching, and routing. The site offers prospective users a ten-day free trial and three paid plan options starting from $35 a month with the standard plan to the premium plus option at $55 a month.
PickaTruckload.com – Offers free freight matching services to carriers, freight brokers, and direct shippers. Searches are 100% free, and over 50,000 to 100,00 loads are posted daily.
Convoy- Gives carriers instant access to loads in the Texas area. They are the nation’s leading digital freight network and move millions of truckloads around the country.
Cargo van owners are always on the lookout for opportunities to put their vehicles to work and earn some money. However, when cargo is not properly secured, it can cause an accident.
Understanding how to properly load and secure cargo can help drivers move large amounts of cargo more safely and prevent deadly wrecks.
The Dangers of Improperly Loading Cargo Vans
When cargo is not loaded correctly, it can shift as it’s being transported and cause the driver to lose control. In fact, according to the FMCSA, four percent of all truck accidents in the U.S. involved improperly loaded cargo.
Some of the primary causes behind these accidents include:
Overloading cargo: When a cargo van is so heavy it exceeds the weight restrictions imposed by the FMCSA, mechanical issues could arise, causing the driver to lose control and collide with other vehicles. The extra weight could also make it difficult to break properly or control the vehicle as it goes down an incline.
Unbalanced cargo: Cargo that is unevenly loaded on both sides of the van can cause It to shift, making maneuvers like turning or changing lanes potentially dangerous. Even when cargo is within the acceptable weight range, if cargo is not loaded correctly, it could be deadly for the driver and anyone sharing the road.
Unsecured cargo: Properly securing cargo is essential to preventing serious accidents. Drivers can prevent loads from moving or falling out by using straps, webbing, or hardware. If the vehicle’s rear doors are not secured, unsecured cargo could begin flying out and injuring other road users.
Depending on the vehicle type and characteristics of the cargo, the seriousness of the accident can vary considerably. In an effort to reduce the risks of accidents, the FMCSA lists procedures for properly loading cargo.
FMCSA Cargo Securement Rules
The specific regulations set forth by the FMCSA outline strict guidelines for loading, securing, and inspecting cargo. Cargo van drivers that fail to abide by these guidelines and are found to be liable for an accident could face fines and other penalties.
The FMCSA sets three securement conditions. Drivers must meet one of three securement conditions to comply with these regulations.
The three securement conditions are:
- Structures of adequate strength must fully contain the cargo.
- Structures of adequate strength or a combination of structure, blocking, and bracing must immobilize cargo to prevent shifting or tipping.
- Tiedowns and other particular settlement methods must be used to immobilize or secure cargo on or within the vehicle.
When vehicles are used to transport cargo, they must be loaded and secured according to these guidelines. Ensuring the cargo is secured can prevent it from leaking, spilling, falling off the vehicle, or causing an accident. Additionally, the driver should have knowledge of the cargo type, weight limits, and how the load was placed and secured to ensure it is safely loaded.
How Can an Attorney Help After an Accident Involving Improperly Loaded Cargo Vans
After being in an accident where an improperly loaded cargo van injured you, your safety should be your priority. Even if you feel fine, you should seek a medical evaluation from your primary care physician. Symptoms of some injuries like concussions, herniated discs, and back injuries may not show up for days or even weeks after the accident.
The second step you should take, if you are not seriously injured and it is safe to do so, is collecting evidence of the crash. Take pictures and videos of the accident scene, obtain witness information, and the name, phone number, and driver’s license information from all parties involved. In cases involving improperly loaded cargo vans, determining who is at fault for the crash isn’t typically straightforward. A commercial vehicle attorney can help you determine who is at fault and pursue compensation for your losses on your behalf.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may be able to file a claim against the following parties.
The driver of the cargo van may be held liable if they failed to ensure the cargo was adequately secured, complies with federal and state laws, and regularly inspect the cargo during the trip.
The FMCSA requires drivers to inspect cargo and securement:
- Before going on the trip
- During the first 50 miles
- Whenever the duty of status changes
- Every 150 miles or each three-hour interval (whichever comes first)
Hotels, transportation companies, and other commercial enterprises that own and operate passenger vans are responsible for ensuring their vehicles are well-maintained and that drivers are trained and properly licensed. Additionally, equipment manufacturers may be held responsible for defective cargo securing equipment if it causes an accident.
Recoverable Compensation in San Antonio Personal Injury Cases
Damages that may be available to accident victims in Texas filing a personal injury lawsuit generally fall into two categories, economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages awarded to accident victims are meant to reimburse them for any monetary losses that resulted from the accident. These damages are easy to quantify, and accident victims can use documentation like bills and receipts as evidence to prove their losses.
Here are some common examples of economic damages:
Medical expenses and future care: Depending on the severity of the injury, accident victims could incur a sizable amount of medical bills. Additionally, in some cases, the accident victim may require ongoing medical treatment. If your personal injury claim is successful, you may be able to retrieve compensation for costs associated with treatment, surgery, medication, hospital bills, and any ongoing treatment.
Loss of income and decreased earning potential: You may be entitled to compensation if you are unable to work due to your injury after an accident. Using your employer’s records, your personal injury lawyer will determine exactly how much income you lost, including bonuses and other benefits you would have earned. If your injury requires you to reduce your hours, switch to a less demanding job, or completely prevent you from returning to work, you may also be eligible to retrieve compensation for your diminished earning capacity.
Property damage: You may be able to retrieve reimbursement for repairing or replacing any property damaged in the accident, like your vehicle or phone.
Keeping proof of all your monetary losses, like copies of bills, receipts, and invoices, is essential to full reimbursement in your personal injury case. Non-economic damages, by contrast, include intangible losses associated with your injury and losses. These damages are more subjective and not as easy to calculate or quantity.
Some common examples of non-economic damages include:
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Permanent impairments like disability, disfigurement, or scarring.
- Loss of enjoyment or diminished quality of life
In some Texas personal injury cases, accident victims can seek exemplary or punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the liable party for being especially negligent or egregious conduct. If a loved one was involved in an unsecured load accident, you may be able to pursue compensation to cover costs associated with funeral expenses, lost income, or loss of companionship by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Contact a San Antonio Cargo Van Accident Lawyer
Our personal injury attorneys at Cesar Ornelas Injury Law understand what it takes for accident victims involved in improperly loaded cargo van accidents to get real results. Let our team help you level the playing field against the insurance companies by aggressively advocating for you throughout the entire legal process. Contact us for your free, no-obligation case evaluation to learn more about how we can help.
Originally from Kyle, Texas, Mr. Ornelas is a first-generation college graduate and a first-generation attorney.
Licensed in Texas, Cesar Ornelas’s nationwide practice is entirely contingency fee-based and consists of a wide variety of catastrophic personal injury and death cases. He has represented countless victims of catastrophic accidents across the United States.