Load Shift Truck Accidents

Load Shift Accidents: The Overlooked Cause of Many Trucking Incidents

Load shift accidents account for a significant portion of truck accidents in the Charleston area, but this issue is rarely talked about among truck accident victims. Sudden weight shift can be destabilizing in any setting, but it’s far worse when you’re talking about several tons of cargo all shifting at once.

As a victim, it’s important to understand the variety of factors that may have led to your accident and caused you harm. When you’re ready to move forward, the team at Bailey Javins & Carter can help you fight for compensation. Call us at 800-497-0234 to set up a consultation now.

An Overview of Load Shift Accidents

Load shift happens when a commercial truck’s cargo shifts unexpectedly during transit. This significantly disrupts the vehicle’s stability and balance, making it very hard for the driver to maintain control of the vehicle. The severity of a load shift varies quite a bit. 

An experienced driver may recover quickly from a minor or moderate load shift and regain control of their vehicle, while a load shift of the same severity could cause a new truck driver to panic and overcorrect, making the situation far worse. However, when a major load shift occurs—several tons of cargo all sliding to the left, right, back, or front of the vehicle—drivers of all experience levels are likely to struggle and lose control.

How Load Shift May Lead to a Collision

Load shift accidents occur in several different ways. When cargo shifts suddenly and unexpectedly, the truck can become unbalanced; the more cargo that moves, the greater the unbalance is. This can make it impossible for the driver to steer and force the truck off the road or into another lane of traffic, causing a crash. In severe cases, load shift can even cause a rollover. Rollovers may lead to crushed vehicles and hundreds of thousands of dollars of destroyed cargo.

Severe cases of load shift, especially to the back of a truck, can force the hatch open and spill cargo onto the roadway. It’s hard enough for truck drivers to react to load shifts and unexpected obstacles, and they drive professionally; the average personal driver will not be able to react to cargo suddenly being scattered across the road. Multi-vehicle crashes are common in this scenario, as drivers swerve to avoid cargo and hit other vehicles, hit cargo and spin out, or hit the truck itself.

Preventing Load Shift

If load shift can be so dangerous, what can drivers do to avoid it? A lot depends on how cargo is loaded and secured. The FMCSA has strict regulations for cargo loading, and both truck drivers and cargo loaders are expected to adhere to them at all times. Heavier cargo is meant to hold an anchor position at the bottom of the truck, rather than being stacked on top of lighter cargo. Once the cargo is in place, it must also be secured properly using different takedowns and securement devices that allow for minimal movement. When cargo loaders cut corners or rush to meet a tight deadline, mistakes are far more likely.

Other circumstances may lead to load shift. For example, if cargo is loaded improperly, that doesn’t mean load shift will happen—but if a truck driver has to swerve quickly to avoid an obstacle and their cargo is loaded poorly, load shift is very likely and a truck accident may follow. Avoiding rapid maneuvers can lower the risk of load shift.

Who’s Liable?

Liability can be complicated in these cases. In some cases, it lies with the cargo loaders. They are expected to follow strict protocols and procedures that keep cargo safe and limit the risk of load shift. If you can prove that they ignored these protocols, they could be held liable for any subsequent accidents. In some scenarios, though, the truck driver and their employer are ultimately liable for anything that happens in their truck. When this happens, the truck driver is expected to double-check all cargo before leaving. If they don’t, they may be the liable party.

Start Your Case with Bailey Javins & Carter

Have you been hurt in a load shift accident in Charleston? Let the team at Bailey Javins Carter advocate for you as you seek compensation. Get in touch online or call us at 800-497-0234 to get started.