The massive size of the semi-trucks you see on Richmond’s roads is already intimidating; imagine how much more so they can be when those vehicles are packed to the brim with freight. Truckers need to be mindful of their cargo and the obligation that they have to their clients to deliver it on time (and in one piece). At the same time, they need to be aware of their position on the road and the dangers that their vehicles (and their loads) pose to other drivers. Many have come to see us here at Shumate, Flaherty, Eubanks & Baechtold following accidents caused by truck load failures wondering what sort of legal recourse they may have.
That is often a difficult question to answer, as truckers may not be responsible for loading their vehicles. The loading and securing of their cargo is often done by employees of the companies whose products they are transporting. Thus, the difficulty becomes pinpointing whether the issue that lead to a load failure was due to the loading of the cargo or the actions of the driver while behind the wheel. Cargo and freight may shift during transport, but an argument could be made that had it been securely loaded in the first, such shifts should not happen.
One aspects of their vehicles that drivers do have complete control over is their trucks’ overall weight. According to Section 189.221 of Kentucky’s Revised Statutes, the total weight of semi-trucks and tractor trailers is not to exceed 36,000 pounds (80,000 if the cargo includes building materials). You might easily argue that a driver transporting too much freight is at fault in an accident regardless of what caused his or her load to fall into the road.
More information on safety standards for the trucking industry can be found here on our site.