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What Is a Truck Load Accident?

November 15, 2023

A truck load accident can result in severe injuries and even fatalities. While the typical car weighs approximately 4,000 pounds, 18-wheelers can reach a staggering weight of 80,000 pounds or more when fully loaded. Smaller commercial trucks like box trucks also weigh tens of thousands of pounds, and when they carry full loads, it can potentially increase a pickup truck’s total weight by thousands of pounds.

When trucks are transporting heavy cargo, they become more challenging to maneuver and require an extended distance to come to a stop. Additionally, there’s the risk of the truck loads becoming dislodged, leading to cargo spills, debris, and other dangers on the road. These factors pose significant hazards to other motorists, and despite being avoidable, accidents related to truck loads are unfortunately quite frequent.

How a Truck’s Load Can Cause a Serious or Fatal Accident 

While there are several ways that a truck’s load can lead to a serious truck accident, these accidents typically involve one of four primary scenarios. In most cases, a truck load accident will involve one of the following: 

1. The Truck’s Load Causes a Jackknife 

Issues with a truck’s load can cause the truck to jackknife. When a tractor trailer jackknifes, the driver may be unable to regain control—and may be helpless to avoid a serious or fatal collision. 

2. The Truck’s Load Causes a Rollover 

Cargo-related issues can also cause tractor trailers and other large commercial trucks to rollover. Like jackknife accidents, rollover accidents can be extremely dangerous—and they will result in serious or fatal injuries in many cases. 

3. The Truck’s Load Causes the Driver to Lose Control 

Even if an issue with a truck’s load does not cause a jackknife or rollover, the issue may still cause the driver to lose control. Once a truck driver loses control, it can be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to avoid hitting other vehicles. 

4. The Truck’s Load Spills (or Falls) Onto the Road 

Truck load accidents can also involve cargo spilling (or falling) onto the road. From gravel and building materials to lumber and vehicles in transport, trucks can—and do—lose all types of loads when they aren’t properly secured. 

Common Factors in Truck Load Accidents 

So, why do these accidents happen? There are actually several issues that can lead to truck load accidents. While trucking companies, shipping companies, and other businesses should ensure that their loads are safe and secure, they often fail to do so. As a result, truck load accidents frequently result from issues such as:

  • Exceeding the Truck’s Maximum Load Capacity – All tractor trailers and other commercial trucks have a maximum load capacity. This is determined by the truck’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). If a truck’s load exceeds its maximum capacity (or GVWR), this can significantly increase the risk of a jackknife, rollover, or other load-related accident. 
  • Failure to Balance the Truck’s Load – Trucks’ cargo loads must be balanced both front-to-back and side-to-side. If a truck’s load is not properly balanced, this can also increase the risk of the driver suddenly and unexpectedly losing control. 
  • Failure to Properly Secure the Truck’s Load – Unsecured cargo can shift during transit. If a truck’s load shifts, this can lead to a load imbalance, make it harder for the truck driver to stop, or cause the truck to rollover. 
  • Failure to Pressurize Liquid Cargo – When carrying liquid cargo such as oil or gas, a tanker truck’s load must be pressurized to prevent sloshing during transit. Similar to shifting cargo, sloshing liquid can cause loss of control and result in a rollover, jackknife, or collision. 

Determining Liability for a Truck Load Accident

Following a truck load accident, determining the cause of the accident is critical for establishing victims’ and families’ legal rights. Depending on the issue that caused the accident, various companies could potentially be liable. Proving what happened is the first step toward establishing liability—and toward recovering the financial compensation that victims and their families deserve. 

How do you determine the cause of a truck load accident? Like any truck accident, the first step is to conduct a comprehensive investigation. This means not only examining the scene of the accident, but also obtaining the truck’s shipping records and other relevant forms of documentation. In most cases, multiple forms of evidence will be needed, and initiating the investigation as soon as possible will be critical for collecting many key forms of evidence before they disappear. 

Contact a Chicago Truck Load Accident Lawyer Today

If you need to know more about seeking financial compensation after a truck load accident in Illinois, we encourage you to contact us promptly. With offices in Chicago and Oak Park, we handle serious and fatal truck accident cases statewide. 

For a FREE, no-obligation case evaluation with an experienced truck accident lawyer at Coplan + Crane, call 312-982-0588 or tell us how we can reach you online today. We welcome clients from across Illinois, including Chicago, Oak Park, Rockford, and other areas.